I’m not a fan of too many detours when we are road tripping between destinations. The back of our car is usually packed to the max and it’s difficult to get BJ’s wheelchair out. However, one of our lovely readers has been keeping me informed of the progress at South West Rocks with making the beach accessible, so I couldn’t pass by without test-driving the new beach wheelchair. If you’re visiting the North Coast this summer here’s all you need to know about the access at South West Rocks and how to borrow the Water Wheels chair.
SOUTH WEST ROCKS – ACCESSIBLE BEACH WHEELCHAIR
We love BJ’s Sandcruiser beach wheelchair and travelled with it on our holiday to ensure we could visit any beach we fancied. It gives us a wonderful sense of freedom but we’ve never given BJ the opportunity to try one of the floating beach chairs. We were curious to see if he’d like it. The Sandcruiser isn’t designed to go into the water (though Hubby and BJ often push the boundaries a little in this regard) so this chair is unique.
The Rotary Club of South West Rocks fundraised to provide the Water Wheels chair to the public. The chair is stored at the Seabreeze Beach Hotel (cnr Livingstone and Prince of Wales Avenue) which is located opposite Horseshoe Bay. When borrowing the free-to-loan chair you’ll need to sign an indemnity form and produce a copy of a license with name and address. You will be provided with instructions for use and a sheet for comments. It can be booked in advance by phoning The Seabreeze Beach Hotel on 02 6566 6205. There are two life jackets available to use with the beach chair, one larger and one smaller.
It’s a short walk across the road to Horseshoe Bay.
I walked the chair across the road and met Hubby and the kids in the car park.
BJ was immediately comfortable in the chair which surprised me. He’s quite particular about his seating although he sits well in most chairs.
The ramp down to the beach is a bit steep and we found the wheels didn’t glide over the sand like the Sandcruiser’s wheels but with a helping hand from AJ we made it down to the water’s edge. The Water Wheels is built for floating in the water and does that well.
Blue bottles (stinging sea creatures for our overseas readers) were on most of the beaches we visited in the last few days of our holiday so we didn’t risk being in the water for long but BJ enjoyed using the chair in the ocean.
The chair works well in the wet sand too.
Normally we’d be out in the surf the whole time but those blue bottles really hurt and we didn’t want to end the day on a bad note.
A lovely passerby offered to help push the chair back up the ramp which was of great assistance.
Keen to use the Water Wheels chair some more, we decided to walk around to Back Creek where there is calm water.
Since BJ’s fall in his wheelchair he’s cautious about new experiences and was more unsure of the chair in the calm water. It seems strange to me but we follow his cues and comfort level. We tried a few times but BJ wasn’t keen so we headed back. This would be a lovely relaxing spot to picnic and enjoy South West Rocks and beach access thanks to the Water Wheels chair. There were lots of families cooling off in the water.
The Water Wheels chair has a chest harness which can be used and a leg strap as well. The back rest can be adjusted. BJ liked it upright like his own beach wheelchair but it can be reclined.
The Horeshoe Bay bathroom facilities have a MLAK key-locked, stand-alone unisex bathroom. If you don’t have a key, one can be borrowed from the neighbouring kiosk (please note the kiosk has one step). The doorway looked like a standard width.
The bathroom has open cubicles for the toilet and the shower so depending on the size of a wheelchair it may be difficult to transfer or manouever in the space.
PLAYGROUND & PICNIC FACILITIES
The playground has some accessible elements including a carousel with a seat and a bird’s nest swing and it’s just a lovely place to picnic.
Personally, I liked the look of the meals at The Seabreeze Hotel which would mean I wouldn’t have to prepare or pack food!
A big thanks to Margaret for updating me on this project. We had a lovely time at Horseshoe Bay and feel the chair will be a wonderful asset to locals and visitors.