Even if you’re mobility-impaired, you can still experience the best of WA… there are more than 15 top-notch accessible attractions in the southwest alone. You needn’t miss out on the epic Cape to Cape Track (almost 3.5km is paved) or a sunset on Cable Beach (there are complimentary beach wheelchairs to hire). National parks, beaches and towns are taking important steps in the right direction to ensure that everyone can enjoy the state’s biggest attractions.
PLACES TO GO
The Coral Coast can be appreciated by anyone with an eye for beauty. Nambung National Park (home to the Pinnacles) can be explored by 2WD and there is accessible parking and a unisex accessible toilet available for use at the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre. North at Kalbarri National Park, visitors can stop for a picnic at Hawks Head. The path to this impressive lookout over the Murchison River is wheelchair-accessible. While on the coast, at the Monkey Mia visitor centre, where dolphins swim to shore to be hand-fed in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, a complimentary beach wheelchair (suitable for sand and water) is available for use. There is ramp access from the centre to the jetty, accessible car parking, and a unisex accessible toilet.
Many of the finest museums, galleries and parks can be found in the state’s capital city. At the Perth Mint, visitors can observe gold-pouring demonstrations – there are wide passageways and ramps throughout the exhibition areas and in the shop. There is also accessible parking and toilets. A short distance away on the city foreshore, visitors to the Swan Bell Tower will find ramp entry and spacious glass lifts to all levels of the structure. Bell-ringing demonstrations are interactive, so everyone can have a go. There are also accessible toilets available for use. Kings Park, one of the world’s largest and most beautiful urban green spaces, can best be appreciated from the Federation Walkway. This treetop walk, suspended 620m over the botanic gardens, is wheelchair accessible, although some visitors may require assistance on an elevated section. There are also paved pathways and scenic lookouts throughout the park, plus accessible parking.
Beautiful beaches, unique wildlife, and food experiences await visitors to Perth’s outlying regions. Hillarys Boat Harbour has purpose-built facilities for disabled visitors, including a universal access boat jetty, swimming platform, fishing platform, beach access pathway and barbecue facilities. All the shops and restaurants in the complex are wheelchair-accessible. Away from the coast, there are many more activities to enjoy at Whiteman Park, home o Caversham Wildlife Park, where kangaroos can be fed by hand. Two standard wheelchairs can be borrowed from the Visitor Information Centre, every day from 10am to 4pm. A dedicated train is available at Bennett Brook Railway to take wheelchair users around the park’s attractions. There are ramp entries to all the park’s buildings and all the village shops are wheelchair-accessible (there are also accessible toilets). Closer to the hills, free chocolate tastings can be enjoyed at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. Large viewing windows allow visitors to watch chocolates being made. The complex has accessible parking and toilets, as well as ramp entry and a cafe on an open deck.
The blue skies and wide horizons of the Golden Outback can be best enjoyed on a trail. At the Totadgin Conservation Park, in Merredin, there is a wheelchair-accessible pathway from Hunt’s Well parking bay that takes visitors to Totadgin Rock, a granite outcrop of a similar shape to the more well-known Wave Rock in Hyden. Outdoorsy types with a sense of adventure and a reasonable level of fitness should head to the Wheatbelt town of Brookton, which intersects with the state’s renowned Bibbulmun Track. About 2.5km of this section is completely wheelchair-accessible. The Brookton campsite, including its shelter and toilets facilities, has been modified to suit wheelchair-users. For a dose of high culture and air-conditioning while up north, head to the Western Australian Museum in Kalgoorlie. One complimentary wheelchair is available for use and there is a unisex accessible toilet on the ground floor. However, some electric wheelchairs have difficulty fitting into the lift, and access to the first floor of the British Arms Hotel
is only via stairs.
Margaret River is renowned for its spectacular coastal scenery and award-winning vineyards but you have to head underground to explore one of its most remarkable treasures: Mammoth Cave. The first chamber is completely wheelchair- accessible. The tour is self-guided, so visitors take an audio headset and meander down the cave’s boardwalks at their own pace. Observant visitors may spot some rare fossils, too. There
is plenty of aquatic wildlife to be admired at the Underwater Observatory in Busselton. The glass-walled observatory, perched at the end of the jetty, descends 8m below the water’s surface, providing amazing views of coral gardens and their resident fish. An elevator is available for wheelchair-users; the jetty shuttle train can accommodate one wheelchair-user per trip. Above ground, take time to smell the wildflowers of the southwest by following the Crooked Brook Forest Path, near Dardanup. The short, sealed walk is wheelchair accessible. There are also free barbecues, picnic shelters and ample seating available for visitors to enjoy.
Pristine beaches are characteristic of the northwest and no one is more renowned than Cable Beach in Broome. Complimentary beach wheelchairs with large pneumatic tyres that can handle sand and water are available from the Broome Recreation and Aquatic Centre. Cable Beach also has accessible parking, toilets and changing rooms. Meanwhile, in the world-famous Karijini National Park, with its stunning red-walled gorges and emerald-green swimming holes, there is assisted wheelchair access at some of the most visited scenic attractions, including Junction Pool lookout, Circular Pool lookout and the Weano day use area. Further north, in the neighbouring Kimberley region, intrepid explorers can take to the water on a boat cruise across Lake Argyle, one of Australia’s largest artificial lakes. The Kimberley Durack is a purpose-built catamaran that can seat 50 passengers, and has access for wheelchair users.
Kalbarri Edge Resort
Why it’s great Just a stone’s throw from the water’s edge, this 38-room resort offers the flexibility of self-contained and serviced accommodation with an onsite swimming pool and restaurant. Wheelchair-accessible rooms are available. For more information click here.
Heritage Resort Shark Bay
Why it’s great Enjoy a leisurely sundowner from one of the resort’s 27 luxury suites, all with balconies, ensuite bathrooms and air-conditioning. There is also an onsite swimming pool and restaurant. All rooms are equipped with wheelchair- and disabled-access facilities.
Comfort Hotel Perth City
Why it’s great The 93-room hotel in East Perth caters to the needs of business travellers and wheelchair users. There is an accessible lift from the foyer to the onsite cafe/restaurant/bar, and there are accessible toilets. Wheelchair-accessible rooms are available. For more information click here.
Hillarys Harbour Resort
Why it’s great It has pristine beaches plus a variety of shops, restaurants and cafes. The resort offers self-contained and serviced apartments, all with balconies and air-conditioning, and has an onsite pool, spa and sauna. There is one two-bedroom wheelchair-accessible apartment available. For more information click here.
Perth Vineyards Holiday Park
Why it’s great Nestled in the heart of the Swan Valley wine region, this holiday park is conveniently located close to all major attractions. It offers a purpose-built two-bedroom villa for wheelchair users, featuring an ensuite bathroom, a separate toilet, a self-contained kitchen, air-conditioning and a verandah.
Why it’s great Ideally located near the Swan Valley Wine and Food Trail, Grandis Cottages offers a cosy retreat for couples and families. Two self-contained cottages, with air-conditioning and gas log fires, are on offer on this five-acre property. One of them is wheelchair-accessible; advance bookings are advised. Rates include breakfast.
Why it’s great Built at the turn of the 19th century, this remodelled heritage-style hotel in the heart of Kalgoorlie offers 37 guestrooms, all with ensuite bathrooms, kitchenettes and air-conditioning. The hotel also has an onsite bar/bistro. Two wheelchair-accessible rooms are available. For more information click here.
Wave Rock Lakeside Resort
Why it’s great Situated on the edge of Lake Magic, guests at this self-contained and serviced resort are just 1km from Wave Rock in Hyden. Accommodation comprises 14 two-bedroom cottages with ensuite bathrooms, kitchens and air-conditioning. One of the cottages is wheelchair accessible.
Why it’s great Relax among Augusta’s peaceful karri forest in one of five self-catering cottages, each equipped with a verandah and wood fire. The fourth chalet has been purpose-built for wheelchair users and features wide doorways, low windows, raised benches, handrails in the bathroom and toilet,
a wide shower unit and toilet, and beds that can be raised to suit lifting devices. For more information click here.
Loose Goose Chalets
Why it’s great At this spot in the Blackwood River Valley, youngsters in wheelchairs can enjoy carpeted bush walks, and friendly farm animals and birds in accessible enclosures. Dogs are also allowed. For more information click here.
Moonlight Bay Suites
Why it’s great Situated within minutes of Broome’s town centre, with its own swimming pool and
an award-winning brewery across the road, this resort has something to please everyone. Of the
50 self-contained suites overlooking Roebuck Bay, one is a wheelchair-accessible room. It has rails
in the bathroom and shower, as well as a raised toilet and a bathtub seat. For more information click here.
Pinctada Kimberley Grande
Why it’s great Offering a taste of luxury with laidback hospitality (it was home to the cast and crew of the film Australia), this 72-room resort in the heart of Kununurra has an onsite restaurant and swimming pool. Two of its suites are wheelchair-accessible, and feature easy-access showers as well as rails in the bathrooms. For more information click here.
If you’re planning on travelling with TransWA, make sure you give 48 hours’ notice.
That way, some of the seats will have been taken out so there’s room for a wheelchair. All of the major stations have pathways and entrances with disability access, including Albany, Bunbury, Esperance, Geraldton, Northam and Kalgoorlie.
Virgin Australia offers wheelchair services from terminal to aircraft, as well as permitting guide dogs for blind passengers (provided they have the appropriate level of training and are suitably harnessed).
Skippers Aviation requires 48 hours’ notice to ensure you get the best services – due to limited staff, bring a carer or an escort with you if you can’t travel independently. The airline only accepts collapsible, non-battery powered wheelchairs on board, you’ll be transferred to an aisle wheelchair or manual wheelchair at check-in if you have an electric version.
Airnorth doesn’t stow wheelchairs in the cabin, and the number of wheelchairs that can be on the flight is dependent on the size of the plane. It’s best to advise them 96 hours in advance.
Qantas provides assistance from terminal to aircraft. Before you book, check that your mobility aid conforms to size restrictions; details are on the Qantas website.
There are disabled passenger lifts at Kalbarri, Shark Bay, Carnarvon, Geraldton and Perth airports.
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