Melbourne welcomes millions of visitors each year; it is a city that offers something for everyone, and that includes visitors with special mobility needs and other accessibility requirements. The state boasts more than 1000 accessible venues and services and is the first in Australia to provide world-first motorised all-terrain wheelchairs at key destinations. When it comes to disability friendly access in Melbourne attractions here are 12 recommended experiences that are welcoming for visitors requiring wheelchair friendly access
Melbourne City Centre
The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel welcomes mobility impaired visitors for the full ‘Star’ experience. Boasting convenient drop off points and ample parking and ramp access, the Melbourne Star can accommodate up to six wheelchair users in any one rotation, and host two wheelchairs per cabin. Staff are trained to safely and comfortably board wheelchairs and companion card holders are entitled to free entry in conjunction with a purchased ticket. The Melbourne Star also welcomes guests and their guide, hearing or assistance dogs. Ground floor, 101 Waterfront Way, Docklands, +61 3 8688 9688
The underwater world is accessible for all to see at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, where lifts and ramps situated throughout the aquarium make all exhibits wheelchair-friendly. For added convenience, ambulant toilets are also located on every level. Corner King and Flinders Streets, Melbourne 1800 026 576
People of all abilities can reach new heights, ascending to the top of Melbourne’s Eureka Skydeck 88 to take in awe-inspiring views from the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere. Its famed ‘The Edge’ experience is also easily accessible by wheelchair, with a ramp leading to the unique vantage point. Companion cards are also accepted. 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank +61 3 9693 8888
The skyward ascent needn’t end there. Visitors of all abilities can now also take to the skies above Melbourne, with Global Ballooning – the first company in Australia to provide disabled access for its hot air balloon rides. Global Ballooning’s Easy Access Basket has a door so those with restricted movement or in wheelchairs can enter and exit with ease, whereas standard balloon baskets require passengers to climb in and out. +61 3 9428 5703
Sailing is one of the few sports in which anyone can participate and Sailability strives to help individuals and groups glide on the water no matter what their age or ability. The volunteer-run program tailors sailing sessions to each individual, providing as much assistance as required. The boats can hold two people each and are designed not to tip over. Available in 22 locations around the state, including Albert Park Lake, Warnambool, Mornington Peninsula, Albury and Gippsland Lakes, from October to Easter.
Beyond the City
Gippsland makes up almost one third of Victoria’s land mass and as such, it is brimming with a diverse range of destinations and activities – from coastal vistas to mountain peaks and stunning lakes – and many are accessible for people of all ages and abilities. To highlight the best destinations for those with limited mobility, a new Accessibility brochure has recently been released, providing information on wheelchair accessible accessible services, accommodation, dining, attractions and experiences within the region.
Highlights include Wilsons Promontory National Park and Cape Conran Coastal Park, where the world’s first motorised all-terrain wheelchairs are available for hire for free, making the beaches and walking tracks more easily accessible. The all-terrain chairs are suitable for sandy and semi-rough track surfaces that are not accessible with conventional wheelchairs. Both destinations also offer accommodation and equipment to make it easier for people with a disability and their families and carers to enjoy their stay. Cabins are equipped with ramps, electric high low beds and accessible bathrooms. A personal hoist is also available free of charge. All-terrain wheelchairs are also available for use at the Grampians and Point Nepean National Parks.
Those with limited mobility can now also experience the stunning caves at Buchan Caves Reserve, a four-and-a-half hour drive from Melbourne, with the help of a new stairclimber – without which it is impossible to access the Fairy Cave for those using a wheelchair or walking stick.
Some of the most spectacular sections of the Great Ocean Walk are now accessible for all, thanks to a new all-terrain wheelchair available for hire for free at Apollo Bay’s Great Ocean Road Visitor Information Centre. Stretching almost 10 kilometres from the Cape Otway Lighthouse car park to Aire River Campground, the accessible section of the walk showcases some of the state’s most breathtaking coastline.
Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort hosts an Adaptive Snow Sports Program allowing experienced instructors to teach individuals with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities how to conquer the mountain.
One of the state’s most famed attractions, the Phillip Island Penguin Parade is accessible for all with disabled parking, ramp access through the visitor centre and along the boardwalks, complimentary buggy-rides available if transport to the beach is required, complimentary wheelchair hire and access to viewing areas as well as interpretive displays at wheelchair eye height. Also on Phillip Island, Wheelie’s Rest at Smith’s Beach provides purpose-built accessible accommodation.