Accessible Experiences

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by Sheree Strange

You’ve glimpsed the valleys and clifftops, the shopping strips and attractions of the Blue Mountains from the car – but have you experienced them up close?

Many lookouts and parks are now accessible, thanks to recent major overhauls by National Parks & Wildlife Service and Blue Mountains City Council. And lots of shops and attractions are now equipped for guests with mobility needs.

Evans Lookout
Evans Lookout Rd, Blackheath

Watching sandstone cliff walls glow orange in the last light of day is an easy walk or wheel away, with fully accessible pathway, new accessible toilets, safety handrails and expanded parking options.

Scenic World
1 Violet St, Katoomba
T: (02) 4780 0200
 scenicworld.com.au/access-at-scenic-world

Floating across the Jamison Valley on the Scenic Skyway or wheeling into the front of the Cableway for the best view is unrivalled. Scenic World has Experience Planners to help you tailor your visit. The Unlimited Discovery Pass gives you unlimited rides on the day, and your Companion Card means admission is free for accompanying caregivers.

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Blue Mountains Cultural Centre
Level 1, 30 Parke St, Katoomba
T: (02) 4780 5410
bluemountainsculturalcentre.com.au

If wet weather means you need an indoor activity, the Cultural Centre is a beautiful accessible space to spend an afternoon. It includes the Katoomba Library and Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, with seasonal exhibitions and a viewing platform with panoramic views over Katoomba and the Jamison Valley. The real drawcard, though, is the interactive Into The Blue exhibition – perfect for curious minds who want to learn more about the natural history of the Blue Mountains. Accessible parking spaces are within the Cultural Centre building (via Parke Street). From there, you can use lift access to the Centre. You can also talk to the team about your visit before you come.

Fruit picking in Bilpin
harvesttrailsandmarkets.com.au/pick-your-own

Picking your own fruit in fresh mountain air is a rejuvenating experience. It’s a seasonal activity, so orchards in the Bilpin area post on their websites and social media which crops are available for picking and the best times to visit. The paths in most orchards aren’t paved, so if self-propelling in a manual wheelchair is tough, skip the picking and go right to sampling the produce. Most orchards offer tastings of fresh fruit, as well as their own sweets, ciders, and even ice cream.

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Katoomba Street Art Walk
Beverly Place, Katoomba

Impressive murals by artists from Australia and around the world transform buildings in a community-driven project created by Street Art Murals Australia in partnership with the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and University of Western Sydney. New works are appearing all the time, and the artworks are so large you can enjoy them from a distance or by car, which is a great option if uneven roadways are challenging to navigate.

Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms
20 Grose St, Leura
T: (02) 4784 3117
bygonebeautys.com.au

Retaining the historic beauty of the Leura location while ensuring step-free access to the cafe and store, there’s nothing like enjoying Devonshire tea surrounded by more than 5500 teapots from around the world (and that’s not even the whole collection). The small admission fee is waived with an equivalent purchase in the cafe or retail store. There are also light lunches and hearty soups in Winter to eat amid the treasures.

Josophan’s Fine Chocolates
187 Leura Mall, Leura
T: (02) 4784 2031
 josophans.com.au

An indulgent sensory experience, Josophan’s is the perfect spot to pick up souvenirs or gifts. You can even watch the magic happen in the chocolate lab through a view window. There is one small step at the entrance to the building, but it’s easy with some assistance.

Wentworth Falls Lake Park Playground
Sinclair Cres, Wentworth Falls

Blue Mountains Council has done an exemplary job with Wentworth Falls Lake Park. The fenced playground has lake views and plenty of shade, with an an accessible carousel, fun mirrors, a variety of swings and more. If you’re making a family day of it, you can use the barbecue facilities, and there’s a unisex standalone accessible bathroom.

Hydro Majestic Hotel
Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath
T: (02) 4782 6885
hydromajestic.com.au

Another historic location with level access, you can take in panoramic views of the Megalong Valley at the Hydro Majestic as you sip and snack on one of the Mountains’ most indulgent High Tea services. Reservations are essential and be sure to let them know if you have dietary requirements, as they are happy to accommodate them at no extra charge.

Where To Stay

Lilianfels Resort & Spa at Katoomba is a great option for families and grown-up getaways, with spacious accessible accommodation conveniently located near the foyer (while retaining privacy and peace). All light switches are lowered, beds are at a great transfer height, and the bathroom has grab rails, a shower chair and handheld shower.

The Fairmont Resort has three accessible ground floor rooms with veranda access, garden views and accessible bathroom fit-out. Kids will love the Fairmont Express miniature train (on weekends and holidays), the Mirror Maze Arcade, bowling alley, and new ice-skating rink. Visitors in Summer will want to make the most of the indoor and outdoor pools.

If your Blue Mountains visit is a day trip, there are several accessible bathrooms in convenient locations. For MLAK key holders, a Changing Places facility at Echo Point has a hoist, adult-sized change table and grab-rails. Other standalone accessible bathrooms are in Leura Mall and near the park at Glenbrook.

This article was originally published in Travel Without Limits magazine and is reprinted here with permission. trave

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