Travelling is fun. It’s a wonderful investment into yourself. You get to experience the world firsthand, widen your perspective and increase knowledge even as you explore your holiday destination. You also get the chance to disconnect from your regular life as you immerse yourself in the local culture and sample the local cuisine.
Holiday travel is also meant to be relaxing and whether taken solo or with friends and family, should create memories that last a lifetime.
Holidays for travellers with disabilities should also provide the same experiences without additional hassle. With many holiday tour agencies providing supported holidays options as well as family holidays for children with disabilities, you can now choose from a variety of holidays to suit your preference.
As we discover some more local, regional, interstate and international holiday options, we will also be exploring cruise holidays, a truly accessible option for travellers with disabilities.
Some local destinations for a short trip include:
Located in Gippsland, an economic rural region southeast of Melbourne, the Wilsons Promontory National Park, otherwise known as The Prom, has fully accessible lodging for visitors with disabilities. A highly popular area for hikers and campers, there are also accessible options. There is a beautiful track that circuits through a picturesque wetland area along a boardwalk specially designed for wheelchair access. For those with a yen for an offroad adventure, they can borrow a beach wheelchair or a TrailRider in their quest to seek out echidnas or The Prom’s famed wombat inhabitants.
Originally known as Swampy Creek, Anglesea is a quaint seaside town located in Victoria, on the scenic Great Ocean Road. It is the perfect spot for animal lovers as you can meet a wide range of animals, both great and small, native and exotic. Host to Jirrahlinga Koala Wildlife Sanctuary, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Blazing Saddles, you have your pick of dingoes, lions, ponies, koala bears and many other animals to interact with. Anglesea also offers arcade games, mini golf, Australia’s largest timber maze and also paddle boat rides on the tranquil Anglesea river.
Known as the paddlesteamer capital of Australia, Echuca is an ideal holiday destination for those wanting to escape the city and breathe in fresh country air. Located along the banks of the Murray river, this town is rich in heritage and history. Explore the town and wander the red gum walkways or take a relaxing cruise down the river. After fulfilling the history buff in you with the paddle steamer exhibits at the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre, head on over to the Victorian countryside. There, you will be treated to another world at Cactus Country with an amazing garden filled with over 400 species of cactus and succulents from different parts of the world. Those who love strawberries must visit the Big Strawberry with their delicious jams, pancakes and even strawberry wine.
If you are looking to travel interstate, some choice destinations include:
With its sunny subtropical climate, surfing beaches, theme parks, rainforest hinterland and nightlife, it’s no wonder that Gold Coast is a popular tourist destination. Enjoy the beach using the many beach wheelchairs available if you love the sand and surf. Delight your inner child when you visit Warner Brothers, Sea World or one of the many other theme parks in Gold Coast. Enjoy the local music and art scene or take the City Hopper Ferry to discover some key tourist spots like the Kangaroo Cliffs and New Farm Park. With its diverse entertainment possibilities, there is definitely something for everyone.
Known for its Big Banana monument and amusement park, Coffs Harbour is a city on the north coast of NSW. With its tropical climate, this coast midway between Sydney and Brisbane offers pristine beaches, abundant wildlife coral reefs and the seasonal sightings of whales. One way to truly enjoy this natural beauty would be on a scenic lunch cruise as you travel up the Nambucca river. Coffs Harbour also offers mobility maps that aid in accessibility travel as it highlights information such as hazardous or uneven areas, parking and amenities access as well as traffic lights with audio, making Coffs Harbour a disability access friendly holiday spot.
As the capital of Australia, Canberra earned its nickname the “Bush Capital” from being surrounded by forest, farmland and nature reserves. Filled with sailboats and kayaks, the city’s focal point is Lake Burley Griffin, where you can see the sights of some premier landmarks on an hour long cruise. These landmarks include the massively prominent Parliament House, as well as other interesting museums with a variety of accessibility features. Canberra is also friendly for families and children with disabilities. In their bid to create a boundless Canberra, there is a boundless playground located on the shores of the lake and is the capital’s first all abilities park. The whole area is wheelchair accessible with concrete paths and after playing, you can follow the level walkways along the waterfront to relax and unwind.
North Queensland, or the Northern Region, is the northern part of the Australian state of Queensland. There is more unspoiled beauty and ancient culture here, compared to most places, with the Wet Tropics Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef nestled within. The Wet Tropics are the oldest rainforests in the world, with plant species that existed millions of years ago. Be sure to head on to the Daintree River Valley where the rainforest grows right down to the fringe of the Great Barrier Reef, the only place in the world where you can experience the meeting of 2 World Heritage sites. A Daintree River cruise is also available for an alternative mode of exploration.
Touted as one of the most iconic and vibrant cities in the world, Sydney is best known for its harbour front Sydney Opera House with its distinctive sail-like design, as well as the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Experience the view of the city’s skyscrapers and the beauty of the harbour from the water on board an accessible luxury catamaran. Also, do take some time to visit the amazing Taronga Zoo, with its unique collection of Galapagos tortoises, African elephants and Komodo dragons.
For those with a greater sense of adventure, some international destinations would include:
Consisting of 2 main islands, New Zealand is a geographical wonder of volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs and calderas. Famed for being Middle Earth in the “Lord Of The Rings” films, New Zealand is the perfect location for adventure travel for those with disabilities. You can freely explore various outdoor activities like bungy jumping or high speed jet boating in Queenstown, encounter nature at Lake Taupo, see bubbling mud and geysers at the Whakarewarewa thermal reserve, experience the native Maori culture in Rotorua or even go for a Lord Of The Rings tour in Methven.
Often referred to as the “Lion City”, Singapore is the world’s only island city-state. You can get around easily in this multi racial country using public transport via the Mass Rapid Transit train with stops located along many tourist spots. Not only are the entry points to the train stations wheelchair accessible, shopping malls and buses have facilities catering to those with disabilities as well. It is also a family friendly place for children with disabilities as tourist spots like the Night Safari and Gardens by the Bay (where they have free nightly shows) have dedicated ramps, lifts and allocated viewing areas.
Situated on the southernmost tip of the African Continent, South Africa is host to several distinct ecosystems. You can find beaches, cliffs, forest and wine lands in this multiethnic society that encompasses a wide variety of cultures, languages and religions.Yet when one mentions South Africa, no doubt animal safaris come to mind. A fully accessible safari tour and stay is available for those wanting to experience animals in their natural habitat. You’ll be able to get up close and personal with the animals and if you dare, pat a wild animal or two. After which, you can unwind and get in some city sights as well.
Be starstruck as you visit the land of Hollywood and cruise down the famous Beverly Hills neighbourhood. Visit the Santa Monica Pier featured in many shows and be treated to a variety of performances put up by street performers and body builders on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Flashback to your childhood as you rub shoulders with your favorite characters from Disneyland or Universal Studios, and be entertained by the playful antics of the dolphins and otters when you take a day trip to Seaworld, San Diego. Los Angeles, nicknamed “City Of Angels”, centre of the nation’s film and television industry will definitely keep you well entertained on your holiday.
So far, some of the holiday locations mentioned for those with disabilities include short cruise options. For a full supported holiday cruise location, where there is accessible lodging and facilities on board, some options include:
An island state of the Commonwealth of Australia, Tasmania is located to the south of the mainland. Fondly referred to as “Tassie” by locals and tourists alike, it is a land of unspoiled landscapes. Its beauty can be experienced onboard luxurious and fully accessible cruise ships as they circumnavigate Tasmania. You can also experience the wild and beautiful landscapes up close when the ship makes its stops along idyllic spots. Visit Port Arthur, spend a day in Hobart and discover what Tasmania has to offer with its blend of culture, heritage and scenery.
Cruising around a tropical island paradise, all your needs are met on board an accessible and luxurious cruise ship. You can enjoy the diversity of Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, with its French culture and sophistication in an island paradise setting. Nearby in Lifou, there are limestone caves, white beaches and coral reefs teeming with bright tropical fish for you to explore. Visit the buzzing bay of Port Vila, Vanuatu, for shopping and more local culture or just stay on board the cruise ship and pamper yourself at the day spa. Then at the end of each day of exploration and sightseeing, unwind further by enjoying a sumptuous dinner, live music performances or even party nights.
Starting in Port Melbourne, enjoy your time on board a luxury cruise ship. Complete with pools, spa centres, movie cinemas and a myriad of restaurants, your entertainment on board never ends. Upon arrival in Adelaide, you will be spoiled by the gamut of choices of things to do from a day at the zoo, a ride on the Popeye ferry, a city tour, a museum tour or visiting the Parliament House. Some tour packages offer a decadent train ride back to Melbourne on The Overland train so you can experience scenic landscapes for the return trip.
Fun adventure travel for people with disabilities is now an achievable option with many specialised tour and holiday providers catering for this valuable market. The choices available for supported holidays are diverse and uniquely appealing. However, if you still haven’t found a place where you can see yourself creating lasting memories, or if you are looking to make more, check back with us again as together, we set out to discover yet more holiday destinations in our next article.
*Leisure Options is Australia’s leading provider of supported disability travel and holidays for individuals with special needs. We specialise in providing local, national and international holidays for people with physical and intellectual disabilities, acquired brain injury, anyone requiring a travel companion and the frail or elderly.
Contact us today and start planning your dream holiday.