visited 2012 (several times)
The Royal Botanic Gardens not only have unusual plants and beautiful trees but fabulous harbour views. The gardens are accessible but the least steep route into the gardens is really from Queen Elizabeth II gate near the Opera House. From these gates there is a very level easy walk around the harbour and much of the gardens. The Woolloomooloo gate and Victoria gate are both accessible but are steep in a manual chair. Pushing back up to them from the gardens definitely gives you a good leg workout!
There is a people mover train that tours the gardens and this is an easy way to see the gardens without any effort. At present it doesn’t have a wheelchair accessible carriage (hopefully this will change in the future and become like the ones at Darling Harbour) The staff at the Opera House stop have offered to mind the wheelchair while we go on the train but I guess this is up to the traveller and whether they are prepared to do this. It also requires that you can transfer the person using the wheelchair and it is a high step up. Our son loves it but he can transfer. The tour is a very easy way to see all of the gardens without any effort and there is also commentary about the plants and sights you see while on the tour.
There is much that you can see and enjoy without the tour. We have taken a picnic to the gardens and at other times eaten at the cafe. The cafe has indoor and outdoor seating and has usual things like sandwiches, fish and chips, pies, banana bread and other cafe food. There is also a restaurant but I’m yet to try it.
There are several disabled toilet facilities around the gardens but mostly in either the male or female toilets. There is a separate disabled toilet facility behind the cafe which is beside the gift shop. It is a steep hill to get to it from the cafe unless you go the long way around and wind your way there. The gift shop is wheelchair accessible via ramp at the side of the shop.
There is metered parking along Mrs Macquarie’s Road and a few disabled parking spaces in this street which usually means we park and enter through either Woolloomooloo or Victoria gates. Rangers circle constantly fining anyone overstaying their time limit or not displaying a disability parking permit. Make sure you pay and display or have a permit.
For more information about accessibility check either the Royal Botanic Gardens website or the Sydney for All website which mentions the gardens.
Summer outdoor cinema in the gardens – Visited January 2013
One of my favourite things to do in the summer time is to go to the St George outdoor cinema that is held here. (this is more of an adults or teenager’s activity generally) A giant screen is poised over the harbour and it is just a spectacular way to showcase our harbour. It is hard to know where to look during the movie because despite the city being a bustling place during the day all that can be heard is the faint sound of a ferry occasionally and the odd bat here and there flying overhead. My tips are to book early because tickets go so fast to the very popular movies. If you belong to St George Bank there is a presale of tickets which is the easiest way to get tickets. Join the Open Air facebook page to get alerts and the movie programme for the season. Street metered parking goes very quickly and the alternative to this is parking at The Domain carpark. The movie finishes late because they have to wait for the sun to go down to start the movie, so if you can park in the street it is nice and quick to leave at the end of the night.
Take some extra cushions because those old style school chairs are a bit uncomfortable after a couple of hours and if it looks like it is going to rain, don the very unattractive poncho and take some extra covering so you keep relatively dry. Even in the rain it is pretty. Arrive early and take advantage of having a drink in the bar or dinner. Seating here is limited and once people get settled they don’t tend to move until near movie time. If you get to the movie early you can sit and watch the sun set over the harbour and you couldn’t ask for a better spot with the Harbour bridge and Opera house front and centre.
Accessible seating – Accessible seating is available for wheelchairs in the front row and the bar and restaurant are all wheelchair accessible. There is a stand alone disabled toilet facility also.
The Open Air cinema does accept the Companion card. Check the website for details on how to go about booking seating etc.
There were people using wheelchairs on both the nights that I attended and it appeared they were well looked after in regards to reserved seating.
This would be one of my must do’s in Sydney!
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