We are always looking for activities we can do as a family which are also wheelchair accessible. We enjoy the movies and bowling but it is a challenge to come up with something a little more unusual.
I’ve put together a list of activities we have done which we have all enjoyed, or that BJ has done with a carer. I am hoping that if you are not in Sydney this will provide ideas of activities to look for in your town or city. Phone ahead and ask questions or even visit to see if it is accessible.
We enjoy this activity because it is something we can all do as a family and we can play side-by-side. One of us has to help BJ hand on hand for him to do it but he seems to love the spirit of playing as a family. I’d love to say it is competitive but Hubby seems to be the only one to get any height or distance with the ball. I’m just happy if the ball doesn’t roll off the tee into the water.
The aqua golf at the back of Penrith Panthers Leagues Club is wheelchair accessible, has an accessible toilet and disabled parking spaces. I also think it is cheap for a family outing compared to many other activities. Picnic benches and bbqs make it a good outing to do with friends and family or a good spot for a birthday party. BJ thinks this outing is simply the best if paired with a stop at Krispy Kreme donuts which is just nearby.
Details for Aqua Golf at Penrith can be found on their website.
BJ loved doing ice skating as an activity with a carer earlier this year. BJ went to a session in the school holidays and it became very social with other people giving him high fives as he went under the limbo stick. I think the photos show his pleasure.
BJ went to Sydney Ice Arena at Bella Vista where there is disabled parking under the building with lift access to the rink and cafe. There is a large disabled toilet facility and a lovely grassed area in front of the man made lake outside the rink which is perfect for a picnic.
You can read more about BJ’s day at the ice rink here.
My Tip – Not all rinks allow wheelchairs on the ice so check in advance with your local rink to avoid disappointment. I would ask to speak to the manager to ensure that there are no barriers especially if it is a pop-up outdoor rink.
Last year we were fortunate to have the opportunity to trial the TrailRider for NSW National Parks and Wildlife. Bush walks were something we had all but given up unless there was a boardwalk or path. It was exciting to trial a piece of equipment which made proper bush tracks and even stairs easier.
The TrailRider is now is several National Parks helping people with mobility issues to get out and enjoy bush walks and tracks which would normally be inaccessible with a wheelchair. TrailRiders are available in several locations in Australia including Dorrigo National Park, Kamay-Botany Bay National Park and through Parks Victoria in Australia. For locations worldwide check the list.
You can read a more detailed account of our experience on the blog about the TrailRider..
My tip – book in advance and take your own helmet as this is compulsory.
Navigating the world with a wheelchair can often feel like being in a maze, just minus the fun.
When we visited Tasmania a couple of years ago we took BJ through his first maze at Tasmazia. In fact they had several mazes which were accessible. AJ still talks about how the lady at Tasmazia gave us the office phone number in case we couldn’t find our way out. The kids found the maze so much fun and great laughter ensued when they hit dead ends. AJ would run ahead and BJ would urge Hubby to go faster to keep up. All in all a great way to spend a day.
Since then we have been to others including Bago Vineyard near Port Macquarie.
My tip – phone ahead and double check the width of the maze can accommodate the wheelchair you are taking. I would also ask what the ground cover is within the maze. This affects the experience greatly especially if it is a gravel or wood chip, as these are a wheelchair’s worst enemy.
Information on Tasmazia can be found on their website.
Port Macquarie’s Bago Vineyard maze information can be found here.
I think there is something special about getting out in the fresh air and picking your own fruit and showing children that their fruit comes from somewhere other than the grocery store. We were surprised to find that if you carefully select the orchard it can be a wheelchair accessible experience.
Over the last few years we have taken the kids peach, apple, mandarin and strawberry picking. Not only is it a different activity to do but it can satisfy a few therapy goals. BJ loves picking the fruit from the trees and with a bit of team work with AJ puts them in the bucket to take home.
My tip – ring ahead and speak with the property owner to check what the terrain is like in the orchard. We have found some boggy after wet weather and a few have been steep.
You can read about our Mandarin picking experience here.
Information regarding strawberry picking at Ricardoes Tomatoes can be found here.
Apple picking in Bilpin is also a favourite with us and we head to Shield’s Orchard.
Pinecrest Orchard is where we go for peach picking but this is quite hilly, more suited to electric wheelchairs. Information can be found here.
SLOT CAR RACING
BJ loves the action, noise and anticipation of slot car racing. He also likes the social side of it as an activity as you are usually racing others around the track. I haven’t done this with BJ for years but he recently went with respite to a track at Hornsby and to another at Penrith with a mate.
Between the excitement and his difficulty with fine motor control BJ only has limited success but this does not seem to dampen his spirits one little bit. He has a blast.
BJ went to Penrith Slot Car and Hobby Centre.
My tip – the carer that took BJ to Penrith commented that it is tight space-wise between several of the tracks and they only found it manageable with the wheelchairs on one track. As I have said with many of the activities, call ahead and make specific enquiries regarding access and space limitations.
I have left this until last because it is really tough to find a wheelchair accessible mini golf centre. Due to the nature of mini golf there is usually a gutter around every tee. We have persisted with trying different places as it is something both the kids enjoy.
Recently we found Putt Planet at Miranda in Sydney’s southern suburbs. It has two great benefits, firstly it is indoors so it is an all weather destination and secondly it is wheelchair accessible. You can read more about our day out here.
Hopefully there are more hidden gems out there like Putt Planet.
My tip – be very detailed in the questions you ask regarding access.
If you are still looking for more wheelchair accessible fun and you live in Sydney, then head to the blog I wrote last year, you can find here.
If you are thinking of entertaining the kids at home these holidays I have that covered with a blog full of accessible and inclusive stay at home activities.
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