We were lucky that our trip to Melbourne last weekend coincided with an accessible come and try day at Altona Beach (about 30 minutes from Melbourne CBD). I’ve been in email contact with Tom Bevan, the enthusiastic Metro Access and Inclusion Officer at Hobsons Bay City Council, so I’d heard about the successful trial of beach matting and beach wheelchairs last year. I was pleased to hear additional matting and a new type of beach wheelchair were going to be available this summer and went to check it out.
It was great to arrive at Altona Beach and find, not only enthusiastic beach-goers, but a news crew covering the day. Word is spreading and the facilities for people with mobility restrictions are improving. I was particularly pleased to see a mixture of people representing the needs of the community. There were manual wheelchair users, power-chair users and a lady using a walking frame, demonstrating that the matting will be embraced by people of varying abilities.
Altona now has a Sandcruiser beach wheelchair (blue chair) and a Mobi-chair available for free hire during life guard hours on a Saturday and Sunday. The Mobi-chair has been designed for use in the water, allowing floation.The beach matting rolled out on 3 December and will be available until 26 March, 7 days a week 24 hours a day. This is a first for Victoria.
Altona Beach is a good position with a wide level pathway along the waterfront and a short distance between the life-saving club and the water’s edge.
There are cafes, a supermarket and a park providing shade and respite from those hot temperatures in the middle of the day.
At the rear of the surf life saving club there is an accessible toilet facility with further facilities across the road.
There is currently no hoist available at Altona Beach but with the progress that is happening I’m sure that won’t be too far off.
ARRANGING HIRE OF THE BEACH WHEELCHAIRS
To book Monday to Friday contact Council’s Metro Access and Inclusion Officer on 9932 1000 or email [email protected]
On Saturday and Sunday contact or visit the life saving clubs to see what times are available.
Altona Life Saving Club
127 Esplanade Street, Altona
Ph: 0438 939 880
The great news is, this isn’t the only beach in the area to offer these facilities. I’ll be writing about Williamstown and Mt Martha soon.
What do you think, would you like to see these facilities in your area?