“Hello there, how are you?” asks this southern Australia resident

“Hello there, how are you?” asks this southern Australia resident
Photo by: Paul Caputo (Stock Exchange)

Hello again and welcome to Disabled Travelers! Today we’re going to visit Australia, the island continent famous for its Outback and countless species of animals that appear nowhere else on Earth. As we’ve discussed, Australia has traditionally had some issues with mobility impaired access, but recent legislature really demonstrates that a “good faith” effort is underway to improve accessibility for all. There are many cities with well-developed sites friendly to everyone, and you can’t have such a fascinating land without a whole range of tour operators, many of whom cater specifically to accessible travel.

eBility starts out off with an amazing collection of a dozen Australian access guides, including guides for accessible hotels, attractions, and much more. Not every single guide is 100% disabled travel, but there’s so much here that you could go a long way toward planning your trip just with these great resources alone. eBility has clearly been “doing its homework” on Australia, as it also has a listing of tour operators, including almost 20 with a variety of local and regional specialties. There are plenty here offering full-scale guided tours in customized accessible vehicles with drivers!

Australia may have a rough-and-tumble image – it’s home to many of the world’s most venomous snakes and spiders – but the people really are friendly and accommodating. Australia is probably the only country anywhere in the world with a map to public toilets nationwide. No matter where you are, not only can you find restrooms, but you can discover at a glance whether they’re wheelchair accessible. I’ll reserve comment on how useful this is in practice, but it certainly says something about the Australian spirit.

Going to Sydney? If you’re traveling to Australia for the first time, you’ll definitely want to consider making this historic city your home base. Though not the capital, it’s the largest city in Australia and home to almost five million people. As the major metropolis for the whole Oceania region, it’s a bit better prepared for handicapped travelers than most. Take, for example, Wheelchairs to Go, a full-scale wheelchair rental service based in Sydney that can also put you on the right track for an accessible tour. Sydney ferries are completely wheelchair accessible, and there are a whole bunch of accessible hotels to choose from. We’ll be taking a much closer look at the city in a future post.

You know, folks, I’ve been putting off making any posts about Australia, wondering what I would find and whether I could honestly recommend it as a destination. But so far, I like what I see, and I think we’re going to discover a lot more as we look deeper. Next go around, we’ll be taking a similar “first look” at New Zealand, over 1,000 miles southeast of Australia. Until then, adventure on!


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