Yesterday the sun was shining and although it’s a busy time of year (a mixture of tourists and locals) we fancied a day by the sea so we headed to Manly Beach. We find this an easy day out because it’s so wheelchair accessible in Manly and surrounding areas.
If you’re visiting Sydney and looking for a lovely day out, a short ferry ride will take you to Manly Wharf.
We drive to Manly and although parking can be tricky, there’s plenty of accessible parking spread around the streets so we are usually lucky if we stay patient.
One of the reasons Manly is so popular with our family is the accessible coastal walk between Manly and Shelly Beach. Even though we’ve done the walk so many times, we still love it. It’s so wonderful to do an accessible walk with such beautiful ocean views and no stairs in sight! At the beginning of the walk there is an incline but once past that it’s an easy walk all the way to Shelly Beach.
The walk takes between 20-30 minutes and there are a few places to stop along the way if you need a break including some cafes with pretty spectacular views.
The cafes have seating on the pathway but this particularly café has one step up with ordering inside. I am sure staff would be willing to serve customers who are wheelchair users due to the access difficulty.
Along the way make sure you keep an eye out for the Water Dragons basking in the sun. It’s illegal to touch them so admire them from afar.
Half-way along this walk there is a stand-alone accessible bathroom. Although there is a bathroom at the Shelly Beach end of the walk, the one on walk is more spacious and modern.
Shelly Beach is a lovely beach which tends to be popular with younger families because it’s a sheltered swimming cove.
If you’re hungry from all the walking or wheeling, there’s a take-away kiosk or restaurant to refuel before returning to Manly. There’s also a stand-alone accessible unisex bathroom.
Dotted around Manly you’ll find drinking stations where you can refill your drinking bottles with filtered water. We always travel with stainless steel drink bottles and appreciate having access to free refills.
A visit to Manly has our kids thinking fish and chips so as soon we arrive there’s usually a campaign on to visit our favourite fish and chip shop, Manly Fish Market (Wentworth Street). This shop does have a step up but you could phone through your order (99763777) and ask them to bring it out. If take-away isn’t your thing there are plenty of accessible restaurants in Manly. Our family also enjoy the pub meals at Manly Wharf Hotel. The service is quick and the menu is varied enough to appeal to the whole family. The views of the harbour aren’t bad either.
If you are visiting Manly on a weekend, take a wander through the market stalls. There’s plenty of souvenir offerings for tourists and for locals like us there are some lovely food options. The bagels aren’t bad here, my personal favourite and AJ enjoys getting a henna tattoo when it’s school holidays.
Manly’s stores and restaurants generally have good access and are step-free.
A beach wheelchair is free to borrow from the Manly Surf Pavilion. I’d recommend phoning ahead if you’d like to borrow it as it’s often hard to find a lifesaver in the club house. Manly Lifesaving Club phone number is 99761497 or phone council on weekdays 99761500.
The beach wheelchair doesn’t have a good strap on it so if you have a strap you can take with you, I suggest you do so.
The public toilets beside the Manly Surf Pavilion do not have a stand-alone accessible bathroom however there is one inside the surf club.
Ramp access to the beach is available in front of the surf club but it is a bit steep.
ACCESS FRIENDLY PLAYGROUND
North Steyne Major is an inclusive playground with a pod swing, carousel, sensory play boards and an accessible Butterfly see-saw. The playground is located between Denison Street and Steinton Street, Manly Beach.
ACCESSIBLE BATHROOM FACILITIES
Accessible bathroom Manly Beach
A stand-alone unisex accessible bathroom is located on the esplanade on the beachfront. This can only be accessed with a MLAK key.
If you don’t have a MLAK key, Starbucks which is opposite the beach on The Corso, has a good stand-alone unisex accessible bathroom.
If you’re reading this and thinking it would be nice to stay in Manly for a weekend then I can recommend the Novotel Manly Pacific Hotel. We stayed overnight and loved being across the road from the beach.
You can read my review of the hotel and see more photos of the accessible accommodation here.
One of our HWWT UK families visited Australia and based themselves at Manly because of its accessibility and ease to get into the city by ferry.
THE AUSTRALIAN MEMORIAL WALK AT NORTH HEAD
If you have your own car make sure you do the 5 minute drive to North Head for spectacular views of the city.
Last year we discovered The Australian Memorial Walk which honours those who have served and supported the defence of Australia in peace or in war.
The paved pathway links five monuments erected to remember the major conflict periods in Australia’s history:
World War I,
World War II,
Post World War II, and
(A special Gallipoli monument also stands along the pathway)
North Head Sanctuary plays host to important military fortifications which were integral to Sydney’s defence in WWII and the Third Quarantine Cemetery where over 240 people were buried between 1881 – 1919.
Wheelchair access is good for the majority of the short walk. To get down to the gun emplacement there is a steep hill. We managed with BJ but it would be difficult for many manual wheelchair users. There is plenty to see without going this far on the track.
Accessible parking and a stand-alone accessible bathroom are at the start of the walk.
We had a lovely lunch at the Bella Vista Café and enjoyed both the views and food.
Wheelchair access is via the path at the side of the restaurant.
Manly offers visitors a great day out so if you are a Sydney-sider looking for somewhere to explore, or you are visiting our beautiful city and wondering what to do, I suggest putting Manly on your list.