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Gold Coast sparkles

World-renowned for its breathtaking beaches, exciting theme parks, great shopping and cruises with a view, the Gold Coast offers accessible holiday options to thrill.

In partnership with Destination Gold Coast

As well as the popular precincts – Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, and Burleigh Heads – the lush greenery of the Gold Coast Hinterland beckons visitors to explore ancient wonders such as Tamborine Mountain and Lamington National Park. Whilst popular theme parks still thrill with nostalgic and modern wonders, they are far from the only thing the string of villages along the coastline now offer visitors.

Starting at the southern end of the Gold Coast, sentinel architectural wonders are etched along the coast from Coolangatta all the way north to Sanctuary Cove. And in between, villages have taken on their own personality so go explore!

A person in a wheelchair and a person standing on a tree-top board walk surrounded by canopy, photographed from above
There’s lots of accessible adventures to be had across the Gold Coast. Credit: Jarrad Seng / Destination Gold Coast

SHOPPING

A big part of any holiday, shopping shouldn’t be hard. Ensuring the Gold Coast embraces accessibility with a capital A, at Pacific Fair Shopping Centre there’s a Changing Places adult change facility on the ground floor of The Arcade should guests need a break from exploring some 400 stores here.

And after a shopping hit, try an Outback experience – in town!

The Australian Outback Spectacular experience has accessible options to ensure guests truly taste the Outback on the Gold Coast. This immersive dinner and show features projection mapping effects, larger-than-life characters, and a stirring musical score and story, accompanied by a delicious 3-course meal. Reserved parking is available for those with a disability permit and there are a limited number of wheelchair accessible seats available for booking. An Assistive Listening service amplifies this spectacular show through headphones attached to an FM receiver and some hearing loops are available via pre-booking. Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs are welcome with the exception of some restricted areas.

Three men - one Australian Outback Spectacular employee, two guests, one of whom is using a wheelchair
The Australian Outback Spectacular is a Gold Coast experience like no other. Credit: Julie Jones

Thrills Without Spills

Sea World for animal encounters has large floor-to-ceiling windows, low fences and unique underwater viewing platforms, all accessible via ramps. Here, there’s a hoist enabling easy access to the water for the dolphin encounter among a range of other friendly facilities. The Sea World Whale Watching Cruise also offers great accessibility for wheelchair users and the guarantee of spotting a whale.

At Warner Bros. Movie World, utilise Parent Swap and Queue Proxy services for visitors who are unable to stand in a queue for extended periods or children unable to experience a particular ride or attraction. This theme park offers a fee-based Fast Track service enabling guests access to shorter queues allowing maximum time to enjoy all the lights, camera, and action on tap.  And the Park’s parades, character interactions, street performances, and general ambiance make for a memorable day out – even if rides are not your thing.

Dreamworld offers everything from accessible parking, free Companion Card admission, wheelchair access in all main bathrooms and guide, hearing and assistance dog admission, ensuring visitors can experience the best of this dreamy theme park. But away from the glitz and glamour of its major drawcards, there’s more to the Gold Coast when it comes to accessible tourism offerings. 

Aerial view of a Sea World Whale Watch cruise on the water with a humpback whale breaching out of the water close by
On a Sea World Whale Watching cruise, whale sightings are guaranteed! Credit: Destination Gold Coast

Go West

Perched within Lamington National Park, start the adventure at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. While there are some 320km of walking tracks here, the Centenary Track and Tree Top Walk with its nine suspension bridges soaring 16m above the ground, is the pick of the bunch for wheelchair users. 

Over on Tamborine Mountain, the 500m return trail to Cedar Creek Falls lookout through Tamborine National Park is graded “easy” and is suitable for assisted wheelchair access. The 30-minute journey rewards visitors with views of its stunning waterfalls. 

West of Burleigh Heads, David Fleay Wildlife Park caters for wheelchairs or those who find walking difficult, with its combination of concrete, bitumen, and elevated timber boardwalks. There are also wheelchair accessible toilets in the cafe and accessible parking spaces. 

Want to soar above the Gold Coast? Go Ballooning offers the only balloon basket in the region which opens and closes for accessibility purposes. Enjoy an average 45-minute glide as high as 2286m (7500 feet) while savouring the magnificent sights. 

A woman in a wheelchair entering an accessible hot air balloon
A view like no other from a wheelchair-accessible Go Ballooning hot air balloon. Credit: Jarrad Seng / Destination Gold Coast

Get Wet

Every Thursday between 10am and 12pm, Oxenford’s Gold Coast Wake Park stages inclusion sessions for adaptive individuals, a free event which enables those with a disability and their carer to participate in swimming lessons, paddle boarding, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding. 

Everyone can experience the excitement of paddleboarding with rentals from All Coast Paddle Board Hire. You can tailor the experience to suit your preferences, whether you want a full-body workout or a quiet meditative cruise. Tallebudgera Creek is the perfect place to give it a try, renowned for its calm waters, beach wheelchairs and beach mats during patrol season. 

Southport’s Gold Coast Aqua Park touts itself as being completely accessible for anyone with a disability. Facilities here include a water wheelies chair and beach matting at the entrance pathways to the undercover areas and cafes. Blind and low vision patrons are invited to float in the water wearing a lifejacket or on the water wheelies seat with the assistance of their carer and staff. Deaf and hard of hearing guests can also participate in activities when accompanied by a carer. Companion Card holders have free access to both Gold Coast Aqua Park and Gold Coast Wake Park.

Volunteering Gold Coast are the masterminds behind the Accessible Beaches Program at which a team of dedicated volunteers at participating surf clubs, during weekends over the summer patrol season, assist people to the waters’ edge. Access is made possible through beach matting and beach wheelchairs provided by the City of Gold Coast.

A man, woman, and child on a Gold Coast beach, looking at one another and smiling; the woman is seated in a beach wheelchair, with her manual wheelchair next to her
Everyone can access the Gold Coast’s renowned beaches with the Accessible Beaches Program. Credit: Jarrad Seng / Destination Gold Coast

Embrace Coastal Culture

One of the hottest spots for a cultural experience, HOTA (Home of the Arts) is dedicated to supporting those with a disability. There’s accessible parking in a car park at the front of HOTA Central, before entering the facility via a large accessible push button. Then it’s simply a matter of enjoying this vast space with a number of special features designed for those who need accessibility. 

Visitors who attend on the first Wednesday of the month can participate in a disability-led art program for those aged 18-35 via the Sunroom art program from 10.30am to 12.30pm. A Social Story, which is downloadable via PDF, is available for those who may wish to prepare for their visit in advance; a Quiet Hour is offered on the first Saturday of every month between 9am and 10am, and some events are Relaxed Performances. 

Guests who require hearing assistance can access assistive listening carrier devices and the HOTA Gallery foyer, Children’s Gallery and Studio spaces come equipped with an Audio Frequency Induction Loop system. Some of the performances at HOTA are accompanied by an Auslan interpreter.

Blind and low vision visitors are assisted with large print artwork labels on every piece, and audio-described tours are available upon request. In the HOTA Cinema listening assisted headsets enable those with sight challenges to immerse in the movie experience.

HOTA offers unisex stand-alone accessible facilities as well as a Changing Places bathroom on the lower level with an adult-size change table, hoist and privacy screen.

A woman and two boys seated in a Home Of The Arts (HOTA) gallery pointing to artworks and discussing
Home Of The Arts (HOTA) offers a cultural experience suitable for all ages and abilities. Credit: Jarrad Seng / Destination Gold Coast

Feast on the view

There’s a smorgasbord of restaurants on the Gold Coast offering great views combined with good accessibility.

Hyde Paradiso serves up terrific ocean views along with Mediterranean-inspired cuisine at this accessible Surfers Paradise establishment. There’s lift access from street level and plenty of space between tables for circulating in a wheelchair. Feast on the likes of Moreton Bay Bug rolls and crispy skinned barramundi here. 

The award-winning BMD Northcliffe Surf Club offers accessible parking, lift access and ocean views. Try the grain fed steaks on the deck overlooking Northcliffe Beach. Early risers might enjoy the “Lifesaver” or Tower 32 Big Breakfast of a thick Italian pork sausage, bacon, two eggs, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns and sourdough.With its great live music, pub-style food and views over the vines, Tamborine Mountain’s Cauldron Distillery is a winner when it comes to accessibility. Feast on the likes of chicken schnitzel and embrace the family-friendly atmosphere. You’ll find an accessible bathroom here for wheelchair users.

Four women holding their wine glasses together to 'cheers' at Coast Beach Bar and Kitchen, Surfers Paradise
Come together over great food and wine at Coast Beach Bar and Kitchen, Surfers Paradise. Credit: Jarrad Seng / Destination Gold Coast

Sleep like royalty

The Gold Coast has plenty of accessible accommodation offerings in which you can slumber happily.

On the northern end of the Gold Coast NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Park is home to a two-bedroom, purpose-built mobility access villa. Access from the parking space is courtesy of a gentle ramp into this spacious villa. The thoughtfully-designed kitchen includes space under the sink for a wheelchair user, and cups and plates in an accessible drawer. The dishwasher, washing machine, dryer and other small appliances are located at a strategic height for those in a wheelchair. The spacious bathroom comes replete with a hand-held adjustable shower, large shower bench, grab rails and under sink room for a wheelchair.

Mantra Circle on Cavill offers the very best in ultra-modern apartment accommodation, with contemporary styling and stunning ocean vista views. Each spacious apartment has a private balcony and fully-equipped kitchen and laundry. After a day’s shopping and dining in the iconic Surfers Paradise entertainment precinct, take a sensory break in the Zen gardens, or by one of the lagoon-style pools. 

The Star Gold Coast located at Broadbeach offers eight accessible rooms across four hotels and residences, with room features and bathrooms designed to cater for wheelchair users and easy reach amenities and appliances. The Dorsett is the perfect choice if you’d like modern comfort, stunning views, and 24-hour hospitality. There are 48 disability designated car spaces and the Darling or Dorsett swimming pools within the precinct are equipped with hoists. There is also an audio loop in this hotel’s theatre and in the majority of the gaming areas. 

On the southern end of the Gold Coast, Rydges Gold Coast Airport boasts custom-designed spaces in its 28sq.m accessible rooms on floors one to six. The full glass frontage affords guests views over the resort style pool, or beautiful Kirra Beach. The shower comes complete with rails and room facilities have lowered height for wheelchair users in these Queen Size bedrooms which have interconnecting availability with Coastal Executive rooms for carers.

In the Gold Coast Hinterland, The Mouses House Rainforest Retreat at Springbrook is home to Doc chalet, which sleeps up to eight people, and is easily accessible from the carpark via a timber boardwalk. There are no steps to enter the chalet which is spacious for travel-size wheelchairs. The bathroom is wheelchair friendly with a toilet and shower chair available on request.

A woman standing and a man seated in a power wheelchair on a balcony overlooking the Gold Coast city - Dorsett Gold Coast, Broadbeach
You’ll find accessible accommodation with spectacular views at Dorsett Gold Coast, Broadbeach. Credit: Jarrad Seng / Destination Gold Coast

Accessible Gold Coast

The City of Gold Coast released its new Gold Coast Accessible Visitor Guide in August. Featuring more than 30 properties and 25 attractions and tours, the guide is just the start of some of the accessible experiences, attractions, and accommodation offerings available in Australia’s Favourite Playground. Whether visitors are looking for a relaxing stay, seeking action and adventure, or possibly a little of both – the Guide provides a great starting point to plan, book and travel with confidence.

The cover of the Gold Coast Accessible Visitor Guide produced by Destination Gold Coast and City of Gold Coast

This story first appeared in Travel Without Limits. You can subscribe to the magazine here.

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