Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 Australians has some form of disability – physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological or neurological? So, chances are, you or someone you know lives with a disability.

To mark International Day of People with Disability, we’re taking a quick look at 6 ways those of us with disabilities can still get into nature and enjoy its beauty.  And if you want to know more about exploring, connecting or protecting nature, check out Victoria – It’s in our Nature.

1.Your key to gardens access.

There are many wonderful things to see at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and Cranbourne and the good news is, they now have an Access Key. It will give you and/or your carer all the information you need from wheelchair hire to accessible parking, from details of bathroom facilities to some of the many wonderful things you can do and see on your visit.

Some of the accessible highlights include wandering through a rainforest at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens Ferntree Gully boardwalk, Botanica where the kids can builds cubbies and craft creatures (there’s a quiet session on January 14 if that suits better) or take a tour on the open air Garden Explorer, (foldable non-motorised wheelchairs can be taken on board.)
rbg.vic.gov.au/documents/Melbourne_Royal_Botanic_Garden_Victorian_Access_Key.pdf

2.Enjoy a beautiful waterfall.

A little more than an hour’s drive from Melbourne are the beautiful Steavenson Falls in the Marysville state forest, one of Victoria’s highest at 84 metres. Take the well-maintained wheelchair accessible path and soak up the magnificent sights, sounds and scents of this idyllic spot.

Another special experience is to visit the falls at night. The flat path and falls are floodlit between dusk and 11pm nightly.

3.Parks Victoria is a leader in all-inclusive nature tourism.

That means better access to our magnificent state and national parks for people of all abilities. Whether you need accessible accommodation, a beach or all terrain wheelchair or want to plan an autism-friendly park visit, there’s a range of options at Victoria’s parks.

4.Accessible Wilsons Prom getaways.

There’s no reason for anyone to miss out on enjoying the spectacular scenery of our beloved ‘Prom’. The most southerly point in Victoria is a rugged and beautiful place in all seasons.
Wilsons Promontory National Park offers accessibility in the form of modified cabins and all-terrain wheelchairs so more of us can enjoy a holiday there, time on the beach and a range of stunning tracks.

5.Summer by the Sea.

Check out this fantastic video of people with disabilities enjoying snorkelling in Port Phillip Bay as part of Coastcare Victoria’s Summer by the Sea program. This video was made by Freewheel Weekends and the activity is run thanks to the Disabled Divers Association. Bookings for Summer by the Sea events open 16 December 2019. The website provides a search filter to find wheelchair accessible activities.

6.Accessible guided mobile tours at Zoos Victoria.

Zoos Victoria Volunteers offer free guided tours in an electric buggy to better assist visitors when accessing the zoo grounds. The buggy carries up to 3 passengers and travels at walking pace so those on foot can join in too. They’re not held every day, so check with tour admissions on the day of your zoo trip.

Zoos Victoria has improved accessibility this year. All three zoos now have Changing Places accessible bathrooms with full sized change table, tracking hoist and more space.