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Accessibility News Round-Up: May 2024

There is so much exciting news at the moment – Vivid Sydney, winter festivals, new accommodation options, and more – that it’s easy to miss something amazing. Here’s a round-up of everything that’s caught my attention lately. If you have any hot tips, please share them in the comments or over on our Facebook page!

Accessibility News Round Up May 2024 - text overlaid on image of Braeden and Mark moving through an illuminated room at Dark Spectrum

On Now: Vivid Sydney 2024

Vivid Sydney is running from 24 May to 15 June, lighting up Sydney’s iconic buildings and urban spaces with art installations, live performances, and immersive experiences. There’s so much on, it’s impossible to see it all in one night (especially if you want to avoid the crowds – our tips for a gentler experience here).

There are four main designated accessible viewing areas this year: Sydney Opera House (views of the MCA and Circular Quay), Hickson Road Reserve and Museum of Contemporary Art lawn (views of Sydney Opera House and harbourside sites), and Tumbalong Park (views of the Tumbalong Park stage). The areas are open from 6pm each evening, with unreserved seating and minimally obstructed views.

The Vivid Light Walk is the centrepiece of the Vivid experience each year, and each section is wheelchair accessible. The gradients can vary (the streets of Sydney have their own natural ups and downs), but there are ramps in place when required. There are accessible bathrooms in each section, and Changing Places facilities at Circular Quay West (under Cahill Expressway) and Tumbalong Park.

We also got an early look at what’s new at Dark Spectrum this year. This is the ticketed experience that takes you below the streets of Sydney and illuminates the labyrinth of spaces underneath the city. They’ve done a fantastic job of improving accessibility for visitors with limited mobility; there’s only one particularly steep section this year, towards the exit, but we managed it no problem. Braeden had an amazing time, and couldn’t wait to go from themed space to themed space.

Braeden and Julie looking at a map with a Vivid Sydney volunteer in front of the Sydney Opera House illuminated with colourful lights
We love Vivid Sydney so much, we even appear in some of the official images for Destination NSW!

Coming soon: Sovereign Hill’s ‘Winter Wonderlights’

Things are definitely cooling down, which means Sovereign Hill’s ‘Winter Wonderlights’ event is coming up! From 28 June to 21 July, Winter Wonderlights will transform Sovereign Hill’s iconic streetscapes and goldfields into a winter wonderland, complete with dazzling light projections, falling snow, blazing fires, delicious food, warming drinks, hands-on activities, live music and interactive theatre shows. It’s a delightful family-friendly event for the school holidays, and it’s an extra-special treat for the would-be snow bunnies, as Main Street is dusted with faux snow at night.

Sovereign Hill is located on a Ballarat hillside, so there are some steep areas, but the roads and paths are generally accessible for wheelchair users. There are ramps in place for crossing gutters, highlighted on the free visitor map available at the entry. Wheelchairs and strollers are also available for loan, free of charge (subject to availability). There’s additional accessibility information and a comprehensive series of social scripts available on the Sovereign Hill website.

Tickets to Winter Wonderlights start from $19 for kids, varying across admission times. Companion Card and concession tickets are available. Find out more and get your tickets here.

Overhead view of Winter Wonderlights show at Sovereign Hill

New accessible cabins at Forster Beach Reflections

A huge investment at Forster Beach Reflections has paid off, with four new cabins open for accommodation – including a superior two-bedroom accessible cabin. Reflections has partnered with The Accessible Group to grade the new accessible cabin, and it’s already in hot demand.

The Forster Reflections Park Manager, Justine Syme, says: “Our accessibility villa isn’t just about accessibility – it boasts all the luxurious features of our other premium accommodations. It’s perfect for guests with specific accessibility needs but also for those who simply prefer easier access to amenities.”

It’s an amazing addition to an already brilliant beach-side getaway spot. Forster Beach Reflections on the Mid-Coast has waterfront access and all the convenience of Main Street right outside. Find out more and book here.

Interior view of the living room of the new accessible cabin, showing lots of circulation space around furniture and lowered tables

Wildlife Photography at Australian National Maritime Museum

You know we love the Australian National Maritime Museum for its amazing accessibility, and we’re extra-excited to see the new exhibition coming up. The Wildlife Photographer Of The Year exhibit is on loan from the Natural History Museum in London, and will run from June 16. The photographs are the very best of the 50,000 submitted entries from 95 countries, whittled down to 100 award-winning images.

The big draw is the Grand Title winner by French photographer Laurent Ballesta, an ethereal image of a golden horseshoe crab taken in the Philippines.

This is the perfect indoor activity for chilly or rainy days, especially if your family has budding wildlife warriors curious about the natural world.

For more about accessibility at the Maritime Museum head here, and book your tickets to the exhibit here.

Award-winning image of a golden horseshoe crab
Wildlife Photographer of the Year winning entry (Laurent Ballesta)


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