Almost one in five Australians has a disability – that’s four million people – so making holiday travel accessible affects all of us, either personally or in our family groups
Most caravan holiday parks have accessible amenities and accommodation, with some providing disabled access to activities with pool lifts and a range of mobility devices. This benefits people with a disability as well as other groups including parents with prams, the elderly and people with temporary injuries.
Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park is one such park. They installed a wheelchair friendly beach house in 2012 and soon realised there was a need for more accessible tourist facilities. Since then they’ve added accessible beach shacks and a purpose built bathroom. But there’s more to accessibility than just accommodation, there’s being able to enjoy the same activities as those without a disability.
With this in mind, Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park purchased a beach buggy wheelchair complete with rod holders to open up the beach to everyone. It’s been popular with both guests and other visitors to the town. They also installed a ramp to allow access into their large swimming pool and have a waterproof wheelchair on site for guests to use.
Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park say, “It’s not only about providing facilities for disabled guests but about creating an inclusive environment where people of all abilities feel at ease, comfortable and welcome”.
Another leader in accessible tourism is Anthony Wake. He is a man passionate about providing people with disabilities the same opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors as anyone else. So much so, he launched the first Australian business that designs caravans for people in wheelchairs, by people in wheelchairs.
Anthony always loved camping as an able-bodied person, but found it challenging after suffering a spinal cord injury that left him paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. He kept at it though, trialling out different set ups with varying success in an effort to continue travelling the way he loved most. Eventually he decided that to truly live the Aussie dream with his wife, a modified caravan would be the answer – and it was!
Anthony says, “We were back on the road having a ball just like everyone else. It gave us the freedom we needed to go anywhere, anytime”.
Anthony says that as a person with a disability, the biggest issue when travelling can be accommodation because it doesn’t come with all the comforts of home. Added to this, accessible accommodation is in high demand so you often need to book well ahead to guarantee a room or a cabin with disabled facilities.
“The beauty of towing an accessible caravan behind you is that you don’t need to worry about these things, you can travel in comfort where you want, when you want,” he says.
With the population ageing rapidly, the number of people experiencing obstacles will only rise. Most people will develop some form of disability at some stage, and sooner or later will have specific access requirements when it comes to enjoying a holiday. Thank goodness for caravanning, where a wonderful holiday can be enjoyed by people of all abilities!