Something I miss since a wheelchair became part of our travel equation is staying in different styles of accommodation. When Hubby and I travelled B.K. (Before Kids) we would stay in cottages, bures and quaint bed and breakfasts.
Now we find the more modern hotels and motels are the ones with good accessible accommodation so we rarely look much further. But recently I had a message from my friend Aleney, of Boyeatsworld, and she was excited because her family had just stayed in a colonial cottage and she was impressed by the huge accessible bathroom. She had me at “huge accessible bathroom!” So we were quick to volunteer to check it out. Old Trahlee is among 17 historical buildings managed by National Parks & Wildlife Service at the Hartley Historic Site.
ACCESSIBILITY AT OLD TRAHLEE
National Parks & Wildlife Service describe the house as having standard wheelchair access to half of Old Trahlee:
- Toilet facilities are wheelchair accessible
- One bedroom is wheelchair accessible
- The kitchen and lounge are wheelchair accessible
- Pathways and entry to the house are wheelchair-accessible
I’d agree with this but will add we managed with BJ throughout the house but he does have some mobility outside of his wheelchair. A large power chair would not fit through the doorways. BJ had his thick off-road tyres on his chair for the weekend and managed all the doors in the property.
ACCESSIBLE HALF OF THE HOUSE
One of the three bedrooms at Old Trahlee is wheelchair accessible. Transferring is only available from one side of the bed but is quite spacious.
The accessible dining room has a television, DVD and a selection of DVD’s for guests to use. AJ and I sat up in bed watching Fame on our portable DVD player. I decided the time had come to introduce her to one of my all time faves and the cottage lent itself to a cosy afternoon in bed.
The kitchen is wheelchair accessible with the oven, microwave and toaster all at a good height. Glasses and plates are all at a lowered height. The kitchen sink and stove top both have access for a wheelchair to fit underneath.
The switch to turn on the stove top is beside the microwave and may be tricky for people with restricted hand movement.
The accessible bathroom is huge and well designed with grab rails fitted throughout, a flip-down shower seat with height adjustable shower head and a toilet with backrest.
Lever taps and a wheelchair accessible sink finish off the functional accessible features. The additional features which make this bathroom stand out from the rest are a heated floor, heated towel rail and overhead heating lights. This area is chilly in winter and large bathrooms can be freezing but you’ll be toasty at Old Trahlee with these well thought out features.
Beside the bathroom is a laundry in a cupboard. We particularly liked the large room where this is located because it was ideal for storing our luggage and the wheelchair when not in use. This meant the bedrooms were left free of bags.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HOUSE
We had unseasonably warm weather while staying in Hartley but we still managed to crank up the gas heating in the early hours of the morning to warm the cosy lounge room. This area was probably our biggest challenge with our family, virtually four adults now, there wasn’t much in the way of personal space when gathered around the television in the evening.
Although a cosy set-up for the majority of families, moving the furniture to the edge would allow greater access for guests with disabilities.
For kids the bunk room will be popular.
All bedrooms have a portable heater.
A divine baby’s room is attached to one of the main bedrooms. It’s complete with cot, change table and decorative touches like bunting.
BJ had his off-road tyres on his wheelchair for our trip to Hartley so his chair was a little wider than usual but still managed to just fit through the doorway below. Please keep in mind that one side of the house is wheelchair accessible. As I previously mentioned we managed throughout the house with BJ’s level of mobility.
To read more about Old Trahlee or to make a booking check the website here.
The cottage is well set up for self-catering but there’s no supermarket in Hartley so ensure you bring items from home or stop on your way. I can recommend Carrington Cellars & Deli in Katoomba if you’d like to pick up some regional wines, cheeses and other treats to have by the fire.
If you are looking for a quick and easy meal, stop off at Alchemy Woodfired Pizza in Hartley. We called ahead and picked up dinner on our way through. Super easy for the first night. Second night we went to Lithgow Workies Club. If you’d like something fancy head to Esk Restaurant or if you are like BJ and like a quick meal head to the bistro.
WHAT TO DO IN HARTLEY
Hartley isn’t the place for you if a good weekend involves shopping and a wild nightlife. It’s quiet, and for us this was the joy of staying at Old Trahlee. We relaxed and took pleasure in slowing down for a weekend. It was lovely to meander around town appreciating the historic buildings.
Our first stop wasn’t far. In fact the Post Office Café was right next door to Old Trahlee, and perfect for a late breakfast. Hubby and I had eggs and the kids settled on sweet treats. BJ gave a big thumbs up to the freshly made scones with jam and cream. He is quite the expert given his love of scones.
The Post Office café is accessible and has a huge accessible bathroom inside.
If you are visiting the Hartley Historic Site and looking for a public accessible bathroom, head to the back of the Post Office Café. There’s a large stand-alone accessible bathroom just behind.
Walking into the courthouse built in 1837 took us back in time to a period when flying a kite on a Sunday resulted in a punishment of 50 lashings. Imagine daring to do such a thing!
The settlement in Hartley began when a need for a police centre in the Hartley Valley led to the construction of the courthouse. During the next 50 years a bustling village including churches, accommodation and a post office grew around the courthouse.
We enjoyed the interactive nature of the Courthouse with a hologram presentation, audio descriptions in the jail and courtroom.
There was some family shenanigans with a dramatisation of a day in court for prisoner BJ who should have been charged with the crime of never sleeping through the night. A harsh sentence would be handed down by the judge in session who I suspect was sleep deprived judging by the scowl on his face – though he was complaining of an itchy wig!
Tours of the Courthouse can be organised for a nominal fee. If you require wheelchair access phone ahead ((02) 6355 2117) to book so the ramp can be provided (see photo).
We drove to the top of the hill at Hartley Historic Site to visit Ron, a metal artist and owner of Talisman Gallery. Although I loved the large metal work pieces, our budget didn’t stretch far enough for one of those. However, AJ and I spent quite some time admiring the jewellery.
Several pieces proved irresistible. AJ bought a beautiful little silver ring and I came away with some lovely earrings and a necklace.
The jewellery is upstairs in the workshop but Ron is so lovely I’m sure he’d organise to bring something down to show you if you told him the colour or style you like. A selection of the jewellery is also available in an accessible position in the Post Office Café.
The human locals in Hartley are friendly but probably the friendliest local we came across was this beautiful horse who trotted down to see us the moment we walked his way.
He happily ate grass and an apple from AJ’s hand and stayed still for a pat.
THE LOLLY BUG
If you have kids, I dare you to try and drive by without stopping at the Lolly Bug. With 2000 different varieties of treats on offer from around the world sweet tooths will be drawn in like magnets.
The store has ramp access at the front of the store and the majority of the store is wheelchair accessible with wide aisles.
A must-see attraction nearby is Hassans Wall Lookout. It offers a 180 degree view of the Blue Mountains escarpment and valley below.
The Sir Joseph Cook boardwalk provides easy wheelchair access and there’s an accessible parking space at the beginning of the walk.
We recommend visiting at sunset. There’s a picnic table at the end of the boardwalk which cries out for a cheese and wine picnic while the sun dips below the horizon.
We stayed as guests of National Parks & Wildlife Service at Old Trahlee but as always our enthusiasm and opinions are based on our experience. Hubby will tell you that jewellery and breakfast at the Post Office Café all appear clearly on our own credit card bill!