When it comes to improving inclusive tourism across Australia, sharing personal experiences and knowledge directly with operators is essential.
Spinal Life Australia Advocacy Officer Dane Cross took a trip to Cairns to conduct an extensive review of tourism opportunities in the region, sharing his recommendations with businesses, Tourism Tropical North Queensland and other key decision-makers.
Dane reviews the accessible Skyrail in Far North Queensland
The Skyrail is a 7.5km scenic cableway running above the Barron Gorge National Park, travelling up to tropical village Kuranda where you can access shops and other attractions.
To get on the Skyrail gondola, the lift system is stopped, and a ramp is placed across the carriage. Station staff know which gondolas are transporting people with a disability so they can assist as needed.
Along the way, you can stop off to view the Barron Falls from the wheelchair accessible boardwalk and visit the information centre, located at the interchange for the gondolas.
The gondolas were designed and built 20 years ago so have some limitations for wheelchair users, which must be less than 630mm wide and no longer than 950mm.
The weight must be “manageable” to allow for loading and for the tilting required to negotiate the ramp. For passengers with chairs exceeding those dimensions, loan chairs are available, which you can pre-arrange ahead of time.
You can choose to do a return trip on the Skyrail or travel one way with the Kuranda Scenic Railway, although you will require a short taxi trip between stations to collect your vehicle at the end.
Cairns tourism operator Tropic Wings also has wheelchair accessible coaches and offers tours that include transport to and from the Skyrail.
More Accessible Activities in Far North Queensland:
Atherton Tablelands: waterfalls and Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway.
Cape Tribulation: where ancient rainforest meets the sea.
Fishing: from the jetty or land at Palm Cove.
Snorkelling: Quicksilver reef tours operate daily, weather permitting, from Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina in Port Douglas.
Sailing: Cairns Yacht Club’s Sailability program.
Hartleys Crocodile Adventure: take an accessible boat tour and watch crocodile feeding.
Bungee Jumping: Skypark by AJ Hackett, 20 minutes north of Cairns allows people to jump in their wheelchair.
Diving: Dive Career Centre, are Cairns’ only certified diving instructors for people with disability.
For first-hand reviews of places to visit in Cairns, check out accessibleaustralia.com.au. Find the reviews helpful? Make sure you leave a review and help others ‘know before you go!’
This story first appeared in Travel Without Limits magazine. You can subscribe here.