Accessibility Series – Sydney and Melbourne

Sydney

Living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world makes sightseeing a calendar highlight. Here are a few places you can take yourself or your loved ones with disability on your next free weekend.

Sydney Tower Eye

The Sydney Tower Eye has been a highlight of the Sydney skyline for the past 30 years and stands 250m above street level and is fully accessible. Guests are treated have 360° views Sydney, making it a scenic experience to visit. The Sydney Tower Eye is wheelchair accessible via lifts and has wheelchair facilities, including accessible toilets and shallow ramped walkways as well as as support for those with sensory sensitivity.

Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is one of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks and is fully accessible. An architectural masterpiece meets one of the best theatres in the state, and a visit to this landmark is a must. The Sydney Opera House has a range of inclusive performances for people of all ages and abilities. These include:

  • Captioned performances
  • Auslan interpreted performances
  • Accessible performance and sing and play sessions
  • Relaxed performances
  • Audio described performances
  • Assisted listening devices (FM Radio System)
  • Tactile tours

Recently, the Opera House has undergone a $300 million renovation to make it more accessible and upgrade the Concert Hall. The renovation has meant that there is a new lift and passageway with improved accessibility, making it possible for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility to independently access all levels of the Concert Hall. It also means that visitors with mobility disabilities can access the Northern Foyer for the first time. Also, the number of accessible seating positions has doubled in the stalls and the rear boxes in the circle.

SEA Life Aquarium and Wild Life Sydney

Discover an amazing underwater world at SEA LIFE Aquarium in Sydney. This attraction is accessible in an effort to ensure every Australian can experience the wonder of what’s under the water. The aquarium offers free ‘Escape the Noise’ kits including noise-reducing ear plugs and noise-reducing ear muffs and ‘Xtra Eyes’ kits to support visitors that have visual impairments.
SEA Life Aquarium offers free entry for companions of people with disabilities via the National Companion Card system, plus accessible seating, Xtra Eyes kits provided by the St Vincent de Paul Society and accessible toilets.

Pat a koala and visit other furry friends at Wild Life Sydney Zoo. This wildlife park assists people with disability to make the most of their visit. The zoo offers free ‘Escape the Noise’ kits including noise-reducing ear plugs and noise-reducing ear muffs and ‘Xtra Eyes’ kits to support visitors that have visual impairments. Both these kits are provided by St Vincent de Paul Society. WILD Life Sydney is wheelchair accessible, provides free entry to people using the National Companion card system, as well as providing accessible toilets.

Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo is one of the best zoos in Australia and is wheelchair accessible for the most part, with ramps, elevators, and accessible toilets available. Taronga Zoo is on a 28-hectare site and the topography is quite steep in some areas. All paths are bitumen and many that traverse the Zoo are level, however some paths linking the levels within the zoo are steep. Visitors can see a range of animals, including koalas, kangaroos, and exotic species from around the world.

Taronga has wheelchair-accessible toilets, most exhibits are viewable from wheelchairs, the zoo offers free entry to those using the National Companion card system, and offers Access Taronga days for people with sensory disabilities who need quieter experiences.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic landmark that offers stunning views of the city and harbour. Visitors can take a guided climb to the top of the bridge or take a leisurely stroll across the bridge. BridgeClimb to the top of the bridge is open to those that can climb, such as people with vision or hearing impairments that don’t have a mobility disability. The bridge itself is now fully accessible, with ramps and elevators available. The state-of-the-art lifts are located at the Southern and Northern ends of the bridge, allowing pedestrian access for everyone. Since 2018, the bridge can be accessed at The Rocks and Kirribilli, without climbing more than 60 stairs to reach the footpath of the bridge.

Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden is a beautiful, 30-hectare park planted with some 29,000 species in the heart of Sydney, offering visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Established in 1816, the Royal Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden and scientific institution in Australia. The garden has kilometres of accessible pathways, with ramps, accessible restaurants and cafes, and accessible toilets plus accessible entry gates available. Visitors can enjoy the lush greenery, stunning views, and a range of exhibits and displays.

Melbourne

Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, is known for its unique coffee culture, stunning architecture, and vibrant arts scene. It is also a city that prides itself on being accessible to everyone. From the bustling Federation Square to the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this diverse city. Here are the top accessible attractions in Melbourne.

Federation Square

Federation Square is a bustling cultural hub in the heart of Melbourne, offering visitors a range of shops, restaurants, and attractions. The square is fully accessible, with ramps, elevators, and accessible toilets available. Visitors can enjoy public art, events, and exhibitions, or simply relax and soak up the atmosphere.

Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens is a beautiful park in the heart of Melbourne, offering visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The gardens are fully accessible, with ramps, and accessible toilets available. Walkers, motorised and manual wheelchairs are welcome on all guided tours. Most areas of the Melbourne Gardens are accessible by walker and wheelchair. The gardens accept the National Companion card for guided tours. Also, the sensory garden was designed in consultation with Dementia Australia. It is designed to improve wellbeing through a connection with nature, stimulated by the senses. Visitors can enjoy the lush greenery, stunning views, and a range of exhibits and displays.

National Gallery of Victoria

The National Gallery of Victoria is one of the best art galleries in Australia and is fully accessible, with ramps, elevators, and accessible toilets available. Visitors can see a range of exhibitions, including contemporary and classical art, as well as works by local and international artists. The Gallery offers downloadable artwork labels that can be used by people with disabilities, as well as captioned videos, audio descriptions and Auslan interpreters at public talks and events. Also, for some exhibitions and gallery spaces, sensory maps showing the locations of audio-visual content, seating or sensory elements are available for free download.

Melbourne Museum

Melbourne Museum is a world-class museum that is dedicated to the history and culture of Melbourne and Victoria. The museum is fully accessible, with ramps, elevators, and accessible toilets available. There are hearing loops in the First Peoples – Creation Cinema and the lower ground floor theatre. In addition, the Museum offers tactile components for exhibitions for visitors who are blind or vision impaired and also those with autism. The Museum accepts the National Companion card. Visitors can see a range of exhibitions, including Indigenous culture, natural history, and contemporary art.

Queen Victoria Market

Queen Victoria Market is a bustling market in the heart of Melbourne, offering visitors a range of food, clothing, and souvenirs. The market is accessible, although the car park is somewhat bumpy and some counters are quite high. The gift shopping area of the market is also wheelchair accessible, although the ground is rather uneven. As the morning is a very busy time for the markets, if you prefer a quieter experience, it is recommended that you visit after 12.30pm. Visitors can enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and the delicious food, or simply explore the stalls and shops

Melbourne Cricket Ground

The Melbourne Cricket Ground, also known as the MCG, is one of the most iconic sporting venues in Australia. The ground is fully accessible, with ramps, elevators, and accessible toilets available as well as a sensory-friendly space. Accessible seating is available in all stands at the MCG. For matches at the MCG, disability permit holders are eligible to pre-purchase a car park pass in Yarra Park online as part of an accessibility parking trial. Disability permit holders will be able to guarantee a parking spot in Yarra Park by pre-booking a parking space for $10 via Ticketek. Passes are limited for each match. Visitors can take a tour of the ground, including the hallowed turf, or simply soak up the atmosphere during a sporting event.

Getting out and about

Visiting local attractions is a great way to get out and about and enjoy newfound freedom. With a little bit of planning, people with disabilities can experience the best that Sydney and Melbourne have to offer.

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