Eating on the waterfront

Maureen Corrigan
I love Port Melbourne. I have lived in the area for many years. I love the accessible paths and tram stops. I am a wheelchair user. Recently I decided to test the accessibility of places to eat in my area. There are many different restaurants and cafés. I found many restaurants that were accessible to me in the Station Pier area. Most had plenty of room inside and out. Three also had accessible toilets. But the restaurants on Bay Street were not as accessible. Many were too crowded inside and not one had accessible toilets.
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Maureen Corrigan on 22/03/2011
Beacon Cove in Port Melbourne, with a large modern building overlooking a wide accessible path and Port Phillip Bay

Beacon Cove in Port Melbourne

I love Port Melbourne. I love the bay and all that happens on it. I especially love the wheelchair accessible paths along the waterfront and the accessible tram stops.

Stories in DiVine about the accessibility of eating strips recently inspired me. I set out to examine the accessibility of eateries in my local area of Port Melbourne.

Many different things

Accessibility for people with a disability means many different things. I looked at the physical aspects of disability, including:

  • Wheelchair access
  • The amount of space inside premises for people with mobility or vision impairments
  • The availability of accessible toilets.

It was an interesting exercise. I have lived in the Port Melbourne area for years and am a wheelchair user. But I have never really explored the area in this way.

Meeting spot

Station Pier and Beacon Cove in Port Melbourne are at the end of the 109 tram line from Box Hill. There is a wheelchair accessible tram stop, one of many along the line. The tram is an easy way to get to Port Melbourne from the city.

There is a lot to see and do as soon as you get off the tram. The Spirit of Tasmania is often berthed at the pier. Large cruise ships also visit regularly. It is a popular meeting spot for many different people, including bike riders, locals and tourists.

Lots of activity

There are many eateries in the Station Pier area. They include take away fish and chip shops, cafés and fine dining restaurants. They all have views of some sort. Some are located right on the water with lots of outdoor areas. You can even moor your own boat at one eatery!

I was pleased that all establishments I entered were accessible to me and had plenty of room inside and out. Three waterfront restaurants also had accessible toilets. There are also accessible public toilets at the rear of the old tram station.

Bay Street

There are lots of other eateries nearby in Port Melbourne. Just a block away is Bay Street. There is a popular eating strip running between Rouse Street and Bridge Street. I counted 34 eateries in all, including 27 on the western side. They include Italian, Japanese, Croatian and Thai food. There are also delicatessens, bakeries and a patisserie.

There are lots of old buildings in this area. One is stamped 1886. But there are plenty of more modern buildings, too. I was pleasantly surprised that many buildings were accessible to me.

Easy to get into

Many places in Bay Street were easy to get into. Half of the places I visited on this strip had smooth entrances or some sort of ramp into them. Where there was no ramp, the single step up was small in all but two places.

But the space inside the eateries was only sufficient in 10 of the places visited. For the others outside was the only reasonable option. There was plenty of outdoor eating area in most places. But if the weather is bad, eating inside was not an option in 24 of the places visited.

Lack of accessible toilets

The lack of accessible toilets in eateries along Bay Street was also disappointing. There was only one place I found with an accessible toilet. It is a new café recently built at the base of an apartment block on the corner of Rouse and Bay streets. There is plenty of room inside the café to manoeuvre around and toilet is easy to use.

I did not find accessible toilets at any other eateries on Bay Street. There is an accessible toilet at the Coles supermarket, but it is not open at night.

Getting to Bay Street is easy from the accessible 109 tram stops and paths. There is also parking available along Bay Street and its side streets. I counted at least a dozen accessible parking spots for those with permits.

Hang on

After checking out the Port Melbourne area more closely I have found some great new places to visit. But the lack of accessible toilets is a problem, particularly in Bay Street. The Station Pier precinct is a better option. Lucky I live close by, so I can hang on!

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