Disability travel guide for Melbourne

Graham Clements
Summary 
Accessible Melbourne is a free travel guide for people with disabilities. It has accessibility information for many of the tourist attractions in Melbourne and Victoria. The guide covers sights, activities, events, accommodation and eateries. It has details of accessible transport and includes whether a venue accepts companion cards. The guide is a free ebook that is available from Lonely Planet’s website. It is best read on a laptop using the free software Kindle for PC.
Posted by: 
Graham Clements on 14/01/2016
Accessible Melbourne book cover
Accessible Melbourne book cover

A travel guide on accessibility.

Accessible Melbourne is a travel guide published by Lonely Planet for people with disabilities. It has the normal tourist information about many of Melbourne’s tourist attractions and venues, along with information useful for people with disabilities. The guide includes some tourist locations outside of Melbourne, like the Bellarine Peninsula and Victoria’s national parks.

Disabilities covered

The guide concentrates on the accessibility of attractions for people who use wheelchairs. The editors say this is the information that surfaced most readily during their research. But the guide also includes information for other disabilities.

The ebook tells people who use wheelchairs that they can use the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, but there are some restrictions. People who know Auslan are told MCG Sports Museum visitors can use a fully iterative sign language app for mobile devices. The guide advises that anyone coming to Melbourne from interstate or overseas can use a fully accessible Skybus service from Tullamarine airport.

Attractions, activities and tourist information

The guide contains information on:

  • tourist attractions and events
  • things to do
  • where to eat
  • where to stay.

Major tourist attractions include the Royal Botanical Gardens, which has some steep paths and one set of stairs but is otherwise wheelchair accessible. Melbourne’s Arts Centre provides captioning and AUSLAN interpretation of certain performances.

Things to do include hot-air ballooning. The ebook mentions a ballooning company that has a modified basket, allowing easy access for people who use wheelchairs. The guide also has an extensive section on sporting activities for people with disabilities. Sports include disability surfing and sailing, as well as handcycling and blind soccer.

For those into nature, the ebook lists where to hire all-terrain wheelchairs for visiting areas like national parks. An all-terrain wheelchair could come in handy when visiting the Sovereign Hill Historical Park in Ballarat; the guide advises it has uneven ground that becomes muddy when raining.

The guide lists many places to eat, and notes whether a restaurant has problem steps at the front entrance. Meanwhile, the accommodation section frequently mentions the number of accessible rooms in a hotel or motel. 

Accessible venues

The guide often has the following information about a venue:

  • The availability of disability parking
  • The availability of accessible toilets
  • Whether there is accessible friendly transport nearby
  • Whether the venue accepts companion cards
  • If the entrance and venue as a whole is wheelchair friendly.

For those who want to drive to the State Library to see Ned Kelly’s armour, the guide advises there are three disability parking spots located outside a nearby café. Campers will be glad to hear that the Buchan Caves Reserve in Gippsland has accessible campsites, toilets and showers.

Useful comments from people who have been to a particular venue litter the ebook. One said of a hotel: “My standard wheelchair-accessible room had one of the largest bathrooms I've ever seen in a hotel. It was spacious enough to get around easily and the roll-in shower was large as well.”

Best read on a laptop

The ebook can be read on a Kindle or Kindle enabled device, as well as android devices. For some it is probably best read on a laptop using the free Kindle for PC program. A laptop has a larger screen that helps if you are viewing the guide’s many detailed maps. The ebook also has many links to the webpages of tourist attractions. These pages are more easily interacted when using a laptop.

The guide is extensive, but does not contain all the information a person with a particular disability might need. Its editors suggest readers consult venues about their accessibility needs before turning up. It gave this reviewer many ideas for places to visit and activities to do next time he is in Melbourne.

Lonely Planet, Accessible Melbourne

Kindle for PC 

Readers comments (2)

Thanks for this interesting article, Graham. It's great to see that Lonely Planet is publishing guides like this one. I hope they offer them for other cities as well.

Very informative article.
Free too, that's so excellent of them.

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