Victoria Parks accessibility programs make Australia’s great outdoors accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
Accessibility isn’t a “one-size fits all concept”. Different people need different solutions and Parks Victoria has a range of equipment and resources to make everyone’s visit enjoyable.
Here’s what you need to know.
Parks Victoria has partnered with Blind Sports Victoria for their Walk in the Park program for visitors who are blind or vision impaired. Volunteers are trained as park companions to assist visitors with park orientation, sign reading and to provide verbal descriptions of the surrounding environment. The program operates in selected parks in Melbourne, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula. The program also provides organised group camps in some of Victoria’s iconic national parks.
For further information about this program contact Blind Sports Victoria: firstname.lastname@example.org
Playing and connecting with nature can be difficult due to a variety of access needs. The Brimbank Park Playscape has been designed specifically to create opportunities for children of all abilities. The result is a haven for creative play that will inspire children and families to have fun, explore and socialise in the outdoors.
The playscape includes tactile circular paths, animal sculptures, signage in Braille and Auslan and an accessible water fountain. For children with physical disabilities, there are a range of swings, a hammock, an accessible sandpit and a build-it-yourself cubby house.
Parks Victoria worked with AMAZE to develop social script resources for children on the autism spectrum for the park. The social script has photos and simple text to show children what they may see or experience during a visit to the park. You can read them as a resource or download them and print them out.
A version of the social script is also available in Key Word Sign Australia format, suited for children learning Key Word Sign to facilitate communication.
For visitors who use a wheelchair, or have a mobility restriction, Parks Victoria has a variety of equipment and programs to assist.
At Gippsland’s famous Buchan Caves, a Stairclimber is available to ensure visitors with a mobility restriction can enjoy the spectacular Fairy Cave. Parks Victoria Caves Guides will operate the specially designed Stairclimber for children and small adults.
You will need to book the Stairclimber in advance. Cave tours using the Stairclimber are not available during peak visitor periods, such as the Easter weekend. Phone (03) 86274700 for further information and bookings. A social script is available for visitors who would like one.
Wheelchair to Boat Access
An electric hoist has been installed at the Patterson River boat ramps to assist wheelchair users to safely transfer in and out of boats. The hoist is free to use and is available to approved users who have attended a hoist safety induction session.
Enquires can be made by email – email@example.com
If you’re looking to take advantage of the beautiful coastal parks, beach wheelchairs are available in several locations.
A range of beach wheelchair models is available to meet the needs of adults and children with varying abilities. They are free to use but do need to be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.
Wilsons Promontory National Park Information Centre (03) 5680 9555
Cape Conran Coastal Park Cabins and Camping (03) 5154 8438
Coolart Historic Area Park Office (03) 8427 2242
Point Nepean National Park Information Centre (03) 8427 2099
A children’s Hippocampe beach wheelchair is also available for visitors to borrow in the Mornington Peninsula area. Contact OzChild (03) 5975 7644.
The TrailRider is an all-terrain mobility chair which makes park trails and bushwalks possible. Parks Victoria’s Sherpa Volunteer Program provides trained chair operators to assist in pushing/pulling the visitor in the TrailRider chair on many of the spectacular park trails in the Grampians and the Dandenong Ranges National Parks. The additional physical assistance provided by volunteers makes it possible for visitors to access trails which would not be possible without several chair operators. It also leaves accompanying family members to enjoy the experience with the TrailRider user.
The service is free for park visitors, but you will need to book Sherpa Volunteers with a minimum of one week’s notice.
Wilsons Promontory National Park and Cape Conran Coastal Park offer modified cabins and all-terrain wheelchairs to ensure people with a disability, families and support workers can stay and enjoy the spectacular scenery and natural beauty of the parks. The cabins have modified entrance ramps, accessible bathrooms and parking nearby. Visitors can add a personal hoist and shower commode chair free of charge.
The Parks Victoria website has extensive information about their access and inclusion initiatives and downloadable social stories for many locations – https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/visit/improving-park-access-for-all.