The Disability Travel Challenge: Australia Zoo, Queensland

The Disability Travel Challenge: Australia Zoo, Queensland

Wheelchair-bound holidaymaker John Roberts is putting facilities for disabled travellers to the test on a month-long trip. Here he tells us about accessibility at Australia Zoo.

Australia Zoo, set up by the late Steve Irwin, is located near the Glasshouse Mountains, three kilometres north of Beerwah.

This was another train trip [John's tours in Kuranda and the Blue Mountains also involved train travel - Ed] from central station to Beerwah station, where a coach from the zoo will collect you.

We did some research and found the best way was to take the 8am train from Central to Beerwah. It's a direct train, quicker than other options and worth the early start.

Platforms are marked to show where accessible carriages will stop, which means help should be around if required. Lift-up seats allow for parking of wheelchairs, and there were plenty of them - six in our carriage. Well done Queensland Rail!

About one hour and 15 minutes later we were arriving in Beerwah. Because of the accessible carriage markings, staff were there are ready to help - it really worked well.

There were lifts to the zoo shuttle, staff at the station were keen to help and a coach with a lift arrived very quickly. The zoo itself is just 5 minutes away.

The zoo has good general accessibility, though some areas are a little hilly with some steep ramps.

Our one criticism concerns the 'crocaseum', which is where the crocodlie and animal shows take place. This had a 'pen' for wheelchair users high above the arena, but it had problems:

  • There were dozens of strollers and pushchairs and lots of children running round, making it difficult to get through.
  • The safety rail was at eye level for wheelchair users, so you get a stiff neck trying to look under or over it
  • The stage area is to the immediate left, but you can't see anything due to shrubs and planters alongside. The only TV screen was small and not visible due to light conditions. We saw nothing of the show.
  • When the show started, people in the front rows stood up. The parents behind them put their kids on their shoulders, leaving us with no view at all.
  • The zoo had no means of conveying the commentary to viewers with visual or hearing difficulties. Perhaps headsets and text on screen would work, but staff told me they had nothing of this kind in place.

On the way back we took the bus again. The driver kindly told us we could stay on to a station further down, giving us the opportunity to see some of the area and catch an earlier train.


Where else has John visited?

The small map on the right shows where John has been in the Cairns area.

Click the icons for links to his full reports.

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