Australian Holiday
by Diarmuid Corry © 2001-2002  

The following notes are based on a visit to Australia in December 2001/January 2002. If you have any questions I can be contacted through this web-site. For background, I am a T4 paraplegic who uses a manual wheelchair. My chair is quite compact and narrow (64cm/25.2” wide) to help me get around Dublin, my city of residence! Bear this in mind when I talk about “tight” access below – your chair may be wider. I travelled with various people throughout the trip – never on my own.

I try to mention my personal access experiences for the places I have been. Australia is big, and in any short visit only a fraction of its attractions can be touched. In case you have a particular interest, the following areas are touched on in this account:

Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay, North Central Coast area, Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Dubbo, Brisbane & Lamington National Park, and the wine regions of Hunter Valley, Mudgee, and Coonawarra.

When I say touched, I mean just that. I can only relate what I experienced, so don’t expect a deep and detailed tourist guide!

RESOURCES

There is a reasonable amount of information for wheelies planning on visiting Australia. This site has a few. There are a few specialist books also. I used Easy Access Australia by Bruce Cameron (http://www.easyaccessaustralia.com.au/). This is a good book which gives very precise information about access and accommodation as well as details on prime tourist interest sites. It is not complete, but then Australia is a big place! Recommended. Another resource for accommodation is “The Wheelies Handbook of Australia” by Colin James (http://home.vicnet.net.au/~wheelies). Colin uses a power wheelchair so he requires the accommodation to strictly adhere to international standards. I found his book harder to use, but it is definitely a must for power chair users.

I also brought both the Rough Guide to Australia (http://www.roughguides.com/) and the Lonely Planet Guide to Australia (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/). Both are excellent and you really need to have one or the other. Which one is a matter of personal preference, they are slightly different in terms of layout and they way they are structured. I prefer the Rough Guide but really it is a toss-up. Both are mainstream guides, but each has a small amount of resources and information for wheelies.

GENERAL POINTS

ACCESS

Australia is not bad in terms of access. The standard is somewhere half way between the USA and Europe. Access to shopping centres and other modern centres is good, public transport is not bad, and car hire is good. However, many small establishments, older buildings, hotels and motels are not accessible. A bit of planning for accommodation and travel is necessary.

HEALTH

Apart from the various snakes and spiders there are no special health issues with Australia. One issue worth mentioning though is the heat. Apart from the usual problems of keeping hydrated and cool, and avoiding sunburn, it is important to be very vigilant for skin damage. I live in a temperate climate and after four weeks in Australia had developed worrying skin breakdown in those sweaty little places that you don’t talk about to strangers. If you normally live in a hot climate you probably already have a care regime to handle this, but in my case I had to use medicated talc, creams and strict skin care to avoid serious problems. Bear it in mind – you are going to perspire a lot!

GETTING THERE

THE FLIGHT

I flew with Cathay Pacific (http://www.cathaypacific.com/) from London to Sydney via Hong Kong. It’s a long haul. The London-Hong Kong leg is about 12-13 hours. The Hong Kong-Sydney is a mere 8 hours.

Long haul flights present special problems for a wheelie. I used a Jay Protector (search in seating products at (http://www.sunrisemedical.com/) to sit on to minimise pressure sore risk. Note that Jay do not recommend using the protector for more than 3 hours at a stretch – so I would pull it out for a few hours then push it back under me. The theory is that the change in surface helps redistribute the pressure. I don’t know if that is what a doctor would recommend – but it worked for me! After a flight like that you are going to be tired, dehydrated, and in my case my feet and legs were bloated. I did not do the two legs back to back. Instead I stayed overnight in Hong Kong on the way out, and took a five day break in Hong Kong on the way back. I was very glad I got the chance to rehydrate and, most importantly, lie flat to get the fluid out of my legs between flights. Of course you can eliminate this problem by flying First Class – you will also eliminate a substantial amount of your bank balance!

Cathay Pacific was efficient in all but one aspect of travel. The staff was friendly and the seats in economy were comfortable with reasonable leg space. Each seat had a personal screen with a good selection of entertainment. Food was good. Where they fall down is in the process of getting you on and off the plane. The staff appear to have no training at all. In all four flights that I took they produced an aisle chair from the aircraft. No one appeared to know how to unfold it and set it up for use. Luckily I travel a lot and have seen nearly every variety of chair out there so I could set it up myself. In one instance I had to ask another passenger who was boarding to unfold the chair as I had not the strength to do it myself. A novice flyer would have been in trouble. The next problem is getting on and off the aisle chair. The air hostesses were prepared to lift me themselves. However, I am not a small man, and they were not large ladies, so I don’t think it would have worked. I am strong enough to transfer myself, but if you need assistance either bring it yourself or make your needs known to every one you see as you make your way to the aircraft. I am sure that they could have found some strong assistance if required, but again the assistants were not trained in lifting.

One final point. It is (apparently) Cathay Pacific policy not to bring your chair to the aircraft door when dis-embarking. This is the first time I have ever encountered a policy like this, but this is what I was told in Hong Kong (when they didn’t bring it). If you want the chair at the aircraft you must mention this at check in. It does no harm to mention it when boarding, to both the ground crew and the purser on board. In fact, tell everyone. For the other legs of the journey they brought the chair to the aircraft as requested.

THE AIRPORTS

Cathay fly from Terminal 3 in Heathrow, London. The terminal is fully accessible. There is a shopping area, waiting lounge and accessible toilets. Be aware that the gate can be 15-20 minutes walk away from this area.

Our stop-over was in Hong Kong. Again, Hong Kong airport is modern and fully accessible. We received courteous and friendly ground assistance right from the plane to the train that brings you into Hong Kong itself. The Airport Express train is accessible; the carriages at the each end have spaces for a chair to park. A really great feature when you are leaving Hong Kong is that you can check in your backs in Hong Kong central station, then take the train unencumbered by luggage out to the airport.

Sydney airport is fully accessible. We found the ground staff exceptionally friendly (a trait we found repeated around Australia) and several times were pulled out of various queues to be brought through a “staff” or “express” route to immigration, baggage or whatever.

GETTING AROUND

Both Hertz and Avis will rent cars with hand controls given at least 48 hours notice. One annoying thing is that you cannot do this over the internet, you must phone.

Long distance busses are not accessible.

Taxis are required by law to pick you up, and I noticed quite a few accessible taxis in the various cities we visited.

SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE & CIRCULAR QUAY

Due to illness we didn’t get to see as much of Sydney as we had intended – our excursion was restricted to a short visit to Circular Quay and the Opera House.

Sydney commuter rail is sort of accessible. You need to find a station guard to get a ramp to assist you onto the train. They will then radio your destination so that someone is waiting to assist you off. Not all stations are accessible, but there is a very good guide book available from the information booth in Central Station (also try www.cityrail.nsw.gov.au or +61-(0)2-9379-4441)  with access details on all stations in the Sydney. Timetables will often indicate accessible stations also.

The area around Circular Quay is wonderful for a chair. It is flat and pleasant to walk along. There are many (expensive) restaurant and cafes. Not many of these are accessible but all have outdoor (and therefore accessible) seating.  The Quay East Chinese restaurant has level access to large non-adapted toilets.

Access to the Opera House is a little awkward. There are a lot of steps up to the main entrance. However, there is a concourse below the Opera House with shops and cafes. There is level access to this from Circular Quay, and ramped access from the harbour-side walk. At the far end of this concourse is a disabled sign beside a door. You have to get security to open the door, but behind it s an elevator giving access to the Opera House level. It is possible to have a tour. Normally you must book these in advance. We were lucky to get one by arriving on spec at the tour office about half-way along the concourse. There is access to most areas of the Opera House and the tour is well worth while, a very entertaining and informative guide.

NORTH CENTRAL COAST

South West Rocks

We spent a few days in South West Rocks. This is a pleasant sea-side resort about 7 hours drive north of Sydney (not far north of Port Macquarie). It has spectacular beaches. The centre of the town is not flat, but the slopes are manageable.

Places to Stay

Costa Rica Motel
134 Gregory Street
South West Rocks, NSW, 2431
Phone +61-2-65666400
www.travelaustralia.com.au/page1/12653_1.html

The Costa Rica Motel has an accessible room. Small (60mm) step. Room is a good size. Large sliding door gives access to the central courtyard over a small lip. The bathroom is large. There is no built in shower chair – management will provide a plastic garden chair if required. The shower is a combination fixed or hand-held option. There is a small pool that is accessible and communal kitchen, also accessible, as well as an outdoors BBQ. An Indian restaurant beside the motel is accessible via a ramp. It is about 1km out of town, and there are some steep hills so wheeling into the town may be beyond some.

Laurieton

Stopped at Pilot Beach close to Laurieton (about an hour south of South West Rocks). It is worth a mention as it is extremely sheltered giving an option for swimming. The beach is easily accessible and there is an accessible toilet and shower in the public toilets.

MELBOURNE

Melbourne airport is fully accessible, no difficulties getting around or finding accessible toilets. The airport is about 25km from the Central Business District (CBD), we hired a car. Our Hertz vehicle came with a thick book with detailed city and state maps. Near the back is a superb accessible map of the CBD, with street gradients indicated, accessible toilets (even non-public ones in hotels), accessible phones, taxi ranks and so on all indicated. A great idea – pity more cities don’t issue them. This map and other extremely useful information on access is available at http://www.accessmelbourne.vic.gov.au. Pity I only found this website after visiting Melbourne!

The CBD is fairly flat and laid out in a grid like a US city. It is small enough to wheel around without any great difficulty so we did not need to use public transport. Many shops, restaurants and bars have a single step in so some assistance is required.

Hotels

All Seasons Welcome Hotel
265-281 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone +61-
3-9639-0555

This hotel is located in Chinatown and is very convenient for exploring Melbourne centre. Level access is from an alley beside the hotel, you need to take the elevator to the first floor to reach reception. Parking is awkward as the Car Park is several 100 metres away and not very accessible. If you have a disabled permit there is on street parking closer. Our room was very large and included a kitchenette and fridge. The large bathroom has a hand held shower and very solid built in shower seat. Strongly recommended.

The Emerald Bar on Flinders Lane has level access, but there is a single step platform in the bar area itself. No accessible toilet, but level access to the “ordinary” ones. It is a relaxed, comfortably tatty place.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD

The Great Ocean Road starts about 100km south west of Melbourne, and hugs the coast for 150km of very spectacular scenery. It is well described in all the guide books so I won’t go into it here other than to say it is well recommended. This section describes the places we investigated and stayed at.

Lorne

About 2-3hours (depending on how much gawping you do) drive from Melbourne, Lorne is a picturesque little town with a fabulous beach.

Accommodation

Flag Lorne Main Beach Motor Inn
3 Bay Street, VIC 3232
Phone: +61-3-5289-1199
http://www.flagchoice.com.au

Large accessible room with kitchenette facilities. Bathroom has hand held shower and built-in shower seat. Large doors. Level access to reception. Motel is up a steep hill from the main street.

Other option (didn’t stay there)

Best Western Lorne Coachman Inn, Great Ocean Road, VIC 3232, Tel: +61-3-5289-2475. http://www.bestwestern.com.au/lornecoachman

Restaurant

Just past Lorne there is a pier on the right hand side with a seafood restaurant called “The Pier”. There is level access onto the outside terrace, single step to the dining room inside. No accessible toilets, but level access to the “ordinary” ones. Space is tight in the toilets.

Lorne to Port Fairy

This covers the most of the Great Ocean Road. It is possibly a little far to drive in one day, so if you have more time consider over-nighting somewhere along the way. There are many beaches but most beaches, viewing points and stopovers are not accessible.

Past Apollo Bay, at Mait’s Rest, there is an area of temperate rain forest. A path has been opened up into the forest. It s a loop and is sort of accessible. There are many steep inclines but the worst parts have a boardwalk over them. This path is not suitable for power chairs, and manuals will need the help of a fit friend. But if you can do it, do so. It is beautifully peaceful and verdant. The full walk will take over an hour.

An hour or so further on are the spectacular twelve apostles, sea stacks broken out from the fast eroding coast. The car park, visitors centre and viewing platforms are a model of their type and fully accessible, although the inclines are a little steep here and there. At the centre, there is a company offering helicopter rides (AU$75-AU$120 per person). They are willing to take wheelies so long as it is possible to get into the chopper. If you are light they will lift you in. In my case it was a tricky transfer, but not unlike trying to get into a 4WD vehicle. The ride is spectacular and we got some great photos.

We also took a 6km detour down a dirt track (very poor surface) to Moonlight Point. This was a pleasantly peaceful spot away form the tourist hoards. A path runs down to the shore but it gets progressively steeper as you progress so we turned back. In the heat neither of us thought we would have the energy to push back up that hill!

Port Fairy more or less marks the end of the spectacular Ocean Road section of the journey. The town itself is historic by Australian standards. It has a compact and flat centre just a few blocks long. Rebecca’s Café on Sackville St. does excellent, if a little pricey, lunches. They have an accessible toilet, but to get to it involves asking most of the diners to move out of your way! The quays are just a few blocks from Sackville St. and make a pleasant walk. There is an island, which is now a nature reserve. A concrete walkway gives level access but the “round island” walk quickly turns to very sandy path that is near impossible for a chair. With the help of a strong and foolish friend I managed to make it to the lighthouse but it was a difficult and strenuous journey. There is an accessible WC in the public toilets near the access to the island, although it was infested with mosquitoes when I visited!

Accommodation:

Flag Seacombe House Motor Inn
22 Sackville St. VIC 3284
Phone: +61-3-5568 1082
http://www.flagchoice.com.au

This is a National Trust Property with a restaurant, but the motel rooms are in a modern block built at the back. Disabled room is large and comfortable, with microwave and fridge. Bathroom has hand held shower and built in shower seat. Parking is on grass which may be difficult for some, especially if it has been raining.

Other option (Not tried):

Best Western Ashmont Motor Inn & Apartments, 47 Bank Street, VIC 3284, Tel: +61-3-5568-3199. http://www.bestwestern.com.au/ashmontinn

Restaurant

The Dublin Inn (57-59 Bank Street. Tel: +61-3-5568-2022) is an upmarket restaurant serving some French and Aussie dishes (Kangaroo for example). There is a single step into the dining room and a narrow door (I estimate 720mm) and no access to the toilets.

DUBBO

Dubbo is about 400km West and a little North of Sydney. It marks the crossing of two main highways to the North and West, and is a sizable town of about 40000 people. That said, it has not got a whole lot to offer the tourist. The main attraction is Dubbo Western Plains Zoo, and it is by far the best, largest and most well designed zoo I have ever seen. You can drive around the zoo, but to see the animals properly you will need to get out of the car. After about 11:00am the day gets so hot that the animals hide un-cooperatively in the shade and are difficult to see clearly. The zoo organises guided walks at 06:45am Saturday and Sunday, and also on school holidays. This is definitely worth doing as the guide takes you behind the scenes and explains a lot about the animals. The walk is reasonably accessible though there are some steep inclines and rough surfaces so assistance would be required. A powered chair may not be able to get everywhere, but would still get value from the walk. If you are concerned, try to get there early (say 06:30) before the main crowds as then the guides will be able to listen to your needs and give advice. We got there at 06:55 and the place was very busy – hundreds of people do this walk and the guides take groups of about 20 at a time around the enclosures. The café and shop by the main entrance are accessible with accessible wc.

The other attraction in town is Dubbo Old Gaol. This was a working gaol up to 1968 but is now open to the public. It is broadly accessible, but there is a large step (200mm) into the main cell block. If your chair is very narrow (640mm) you can get into the solitary confinement cells. To be honest, your quality of life would not be greatly reduced by not getting to see the gaol, but kids love it.

Accommodation

Best Western Countryman Motor Inn
47 Cobra Street
Dubbo, NSW 2830
Phone: +61-2-6882-7422
http://www.bestwestern.com.au/countrymandubbo

This is “accessible with assistance”. There is a small (70mm) step into the adapted room. The rooms are old and the air-conditioning is not very effective. Bathroom is large and has a hand held shower. There is no built-in shower seat but one will be provided by the management if you ask. There is a step (100mm) to a platform leading into reception, and another step (120mm) from this into reception itself.

Other options (not tried):

There are plenty of motels in Dubbo. These are listed as having accessible rooms:

Best Western Blue Diamond Motor Inn, 113 Wingewarra St., NSW 2830, Tel: +61-2-6882-0666. http://www.bestwestern.com.au/bluediamond

Best Western Aberdeen Motor Inn, 25 Cobra St., NSW 2830, Tel: +61-2-6884-1700. http://www.bestwestern.com.au/aberdeen

Endeavour Court Motor Inn, 94-98 Bourke St., NSW 2830, Tel: +61-2-6881-1000. http://www.goldenchain.com.au

Blue Gum Motor Inn, 109 Cobra St., NSW 2830, Tel: +61-2-6882-0900. http://www.goldenchain.com.au/ (Accessible with assistance)

Restaurants

The Best Western Countryman Motor Inn has a small but excellent restaurant, really a surprise for a motel restaurant. Access is from the reception; see access notes under accommodation above.  Close to the motel, on Cobra Street, is the Keg that is a straight-up, rather unexciting, Australian steak and grill type restaurant. Level access from the car park and accessible wc.

BRISBANE & LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK

The main reason for travelling to Southern Queensland was to visit O’Reilly’s Rainforest Lodge in Lamington National Park. We spent a night in Brisbane and two nights in O’Reilly’s. The intention was to explore Brisbane and do a few of the tourist sights, but the temperatures were so hot that we retreated to the hotel and more or less stayed there. Brisbane centre has some steep inclines and the kerbs are not always cut. On the second morning we walked to Queen St. Mall, which is really a pedestrianized street with shops on each side. It is very lively. The area is flat and easy to manage, but getting in to the shops can involve searching for entrances and ramps.

We quickly got on the road to Lamington National Park. It’s about two hours drive South. After passing through the last village (Canungra) the road becomes very twisty and narrow as it climbs up the mountain. In many places there is only room for one vehicle. It is a dramatic and exciting drive with sheer drops off to the side overlooking breathtaking scenery. When the road reaches the plateau, it winds its way through patches of rain forest and gum forest. The effect is magical as the trees dominate and control the road, almost like walking in a forest. Eventually you reach O’Reillys Rainforest Lodge.

O’Reilly’s caters for all ages and type. Your accommodation rate includes morning and afternoon tea, and all activities. Meal packages are available. The activities vary from energetic three day walks through the mountains for the hardy, to very sedentary film viewing. The focus is always on the environment and the rain forest itself. The activities of most interest to a wheelie are the 4WD trips, the tree tops walk and a paved walk. The 4WD vehicles are not accessible. You will need to talk to the helpful and friendly staff about your needs. They will carry you on board if possible. In my case I was able to get out of the chair onto the steps of the vehicle, and physically drag myself into a seat. You will not get the same value from the trip as others unless you can hop on and off the vehicle easily. The tree tops walk is an inspired attraction. It consists of a gently sloping boardwalk which brings you into wooden rope bridges that span the trees at three top height, 30m from the ground. It is easily manageable without assistance for a manual chair. Check with the staff about motorised chairs. About 1km from the guesthouse there is a path that was built about 5-6 years ago specifically to give access to the rain forest for wheelchairs. It leads over 2km to a stunning lookout post. Unfortunately there are no funds available for its upkeep and it is now falling into disrepair. This makes it tricky to manage. The inclines can be quite steep so assistance will be required. In a few years I guess it will become impassable for wheelchairs, which is a real shame.

Restaurants

Circa
483 Adelaide St.
Brisbane
QLD 4000
Tel: +61-7-3832-4722

We stumbled across this restaurant, which claims to have won awards over the last few years. It is well worth a visit if you want a special night out (and can manage the access). The food was superb, one of the best menus and taste combinations that I have eaten anywhere, and the service perfect. This is an upmarket place and the bill reflects the standard of the food.

If you call them they will tell you they are not accessible. In fact, the main door has a large step, leading into a small lobby area. Six steps lead up from this to the restaurant itself. However, another door a few meters down the street acts as the kitchen and deliveries door. The step here is lower (100mm) and it leads to a steep ramp into the kitchen. The staff will lead you through (by prior arrangement). Access to the restaurant from the kitchen is totally level.

Accommodation

Marriott Hotel
515 Queen Street
Brisbane, 4000
Queensland, Australia
Phone: 61-07-3303 8000
Fax: 61-07-3303 8088
www.marriott.com

Well, it is a Marriott so standards are high. We got a good deal and had a truly magnificent time here. I asked for a room on “executive level”. The bathroom was not “accessible by design” but was very large with plenty of space to turn around. No shower, but a bath and a hand held shower rose. I never use a bath seat but I presume management could get you one if needed. All areas of the hotel are accessible, including the swimming pool and sun balcony.

O’Reilly’s Rainforest Lodge
Lamington National Park Road
Via Canungra
QD 4275
Tel: +61-7-5544-0644
http://www.oreillys.com.au

This is an experience. The lodge itself is built on a hilly site so there are some steep inclines to negotiate. There is level access into the main door and reception area. They have two rooms suitable for wheelchairs. Access to these is either out through a long hilly route, or through the restaurant and kitchen. The kitchen staff are extremely friendly and obviously used to wheelies meandering through their work space. There is a small (100mm) step into the room, which is very large with level access onto a balcony. Ours had a stunning view out over the mountains and forests. Bathroom is large, wheel-in shower but no shower seat. I used a plastic garden chair. Hand-held shower. All areas of the resort are accessible except the bar, but there are some very steep inclines and assistance may be required. Although not a “perfect” spot from a wheelie’s point of view, it is worth a visit because of the views, tranquility and local (over) friendly parrots. 

WINE COUNTRY

Australia has some superb wines – and you will find wineries popping up in the most unlikely places. We could only visit a few, but here they are:

Hunter Valley

Located about three hours drive North of Sydney, the Hunter Valley is the most famous of the Australian wine districts. It centres around the town of Cessnock, with the vineyards stretching over the flat plains to the North West of the town, and into the hills. There is a huge range of vineyards, representing all major suppliers and it is very commercialised. If you have time it is worth driving through Wolloomi to get there (or home) as the route is quite scenic. Wolloomi Inn specialises in a drink called “Jungle Juice”. The inn itself is totally inaccessible, although a couple of friendly locals carried me up the steps into the bar.

Wineries

Draytons
Bellevue Winery
Pokolbin
NSW

Two steps into tasting area, with large platform between them so you can take them one at a time. Toilets in separate building, one step into non-adapted toilet.

Specialise in fortified wines – in the style of port, sherry and Madeira.

Hungerford Hill
McDonalds Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
Tel: +61-2-4998-7666
Mon-Sun: 10:00-17:00
http://www.hungerfordhill.com.au (a candidate for worst web-site in cyberspace!)

Set in an adapted wooden chapel. Accessible. There is level access to the toilet but to be honest I cannot remember if it was adapted or not – it was “usable” in the sense I could get in and lock the door but I did not note whether it had grab rails (much wine had been consumed).

They have a good range of very fine wines, and friendly and informative staff.

Coonawarra

The Coonawarra valley is located in South Australia, close to the Victoria border. The main town is Penola, and the wine area stretches north of Penola on either side of the Riddoch Highway. Penola is a pleasant heritage town and worth a stop, it acts as an ideal base for exploring the wineries.

Wineries

Balnaves of Coonawarra
Tel: +61-8-8737-2946
Mon-Fri: 09:00-17:00, w/e & p/h 10:00-17:00

Level access into their award winning design tasting rooms, with a very pleasant outlook over an pool. Balnaves have a superb selection of wines, the difficulty is avoiding buying everything. There is no accessible toilet, and access to the standard toilets is very difficult due to a slope and a step. However, if you ask, a member of staff will guide you to the office area where there is a large (but not adapted) bathroom.

Rymill Winery
The Riddoch Run Vineyards
Coonawarra, SA 5263
Tel: +61-8-8736-5001
Mon-Sun: 10:00-17:00
http://www.rymill.com.au

Another stunning tasting room. Level access from the car-park (via a bridge over a goldfish filled pool) into the large tasting rooms. Accessible toilets through a door at the back of the tasting room.

Our assistant was one of the friendliest we came across, and certainly the most informative. The wines are superb – truly magnificent. This vineyard is a “must visit” if you are in the area.

Accommodation

Coonawarra Motor Lodge
114 Church St.
Penola
SA 5277
Tel: +61-8-8737-2364

Level access to reception, wine tasting room and restaurant.  One adapted room, level access from driveway. Large room. Circulation in bathroom a bit restricted, roll in shower, no shower seat, hand-held shower. Access to garden/pool area (100mm step). Barbeque available to guests in the central garden/pool area. Large selection of wine available for purchase. Run by very friendly couple. Recommended

Restaurant

The Hermitage Café & Wine Bar
Riddoch Highway
Coonawarra
SA 5263
Tel: +61-8-8737-2122

Level access through a side door. Some changes of levels internally, but ramps can be provided, although these are very steep in some cases. Good selection of local wines and good food.

Mudgee

About four hours north-west of Sydney, Mudgee is an up and coming wine region. Most of the vineyards are smaller and less commercial than the more famous areas. There are still boutique vineyards not yet bought over by the “big players”. As well as this Mudgee is surrounded by some beautiful countryside, and a nearby reservoir provides sailing, swimming and other water amenities. The town is compact and fairly flat (although there is a gradual slope on the main street which gets a bit tiring after a while!). There is an accessible toilet in the public toilets beside the town hall.

Wineries

Red Clay Estate
269 Henry Lawson Drive
Mudgee
NSW 2850
Tel: +61-2-6372-4596
Fri-Mon: 10:00-17:00

This is a tiny (7ha) boutique vineyard. Low step onto wooden veranda, then another step (100mm) into tasting room. No accessible toilets. Great selection of wines, and very friendly proprietors. Because of the small size, they sell all their wine at the “cellar door” so you wont find them in a bottle shop. But the wines are superb.

Honey Haven
Cnr Gulgong Road & Hill End Road
Mudgee
NSW 2850
Tel: +61-2-6372-4478
Mon-Sun: 09:00-17:00

As the name suggest, this isn’t really a winery! However, they also act as an outlet for “Seldom Seen” wines which are available for tasting so I mention them here. The shop focuses on honey and honey products, more than you could possibly imagine, with honey available for tasting. Ramped entrance from car-park, and accessible toilet (construction work was just completing when I visited). They also have a café but this was closed when we visited.

Peter Van Gent
141 Black Springs Road
Mudgee
NSW 2850
Tel: +61-2-6373-3807
Mon-Sat: 09:00-17:00, Sun 11:00-16:00

Tasting rooms set in a large atmospheric, barn-like cellar room. To gain access it may be necessary to ask the staff to open the large barn door (normally, access is through a door set in to the barn door, but this is narrow (640mm and involves a step). No accessible toilet.

Only person in Australia making Vermouth (and very good it is too). Large range of wines.

Accommodation

Horatio Motor Inn
15 Horatio St.
Mudgee
NSW 2850

Tel: +61-2-6372-7727
http://www.horatiomotorinn.com.au

Modern motel on the outskirts of the town (Sydney road). One step (80mm) to reception. Easy access to bedrooms through automatic sliding doors, fully ramped. Large comfortable, room. No shower seat, supplied by management on request. Hand-held shower. Recommended.

Hithergreen Motel, 252 Henry Lawson Drive, Mudgee NSW 2850. Tel: +61-2-6372-1022

We didn’t actually stay in this motel, but found it set several km outside the town right in the heart of the wineries, and it looked very inviting. The road sign advertises accessible rooms and it has a café and restaurant. Looked good if you are looking for a more rural setting to relax in.

Enjoy Diarmuid Corry's additional travel insights on the following destinations.

Portugal: Lisbon & Madeira and Amsterdam, Netherlands

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