We’ve visited Canberra many times but hadn’t discovered Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve until a friend recently told me about it. Canberra is overflowing with wheelchair accessible activities so we usually don’t look beyond the city but on my friend’s recommendation we took the 40 minute drive from Canberra to Tidbinbilla. The Nature Reserve is a gem with its bountiful wildlife and accessible walks and definitely one to put on your list of wheelchair accessible attractions to explore when staying in Canberra.
A stop at the Visitors Centre is a must to purchase park entry ($12 per vehicle in October 2017) and to pick up a map of the reserve. A volunteer enthusiastically explained to us the best wheelchair accessible areas and other points of interest on the map and we were off exploring.
I love seeing animals in their natural setting so whenever I see a sign alerting drivers to koalas, echidnas, wombats etc I’m on the edge of my seat looking out for them. It’s a running joke in the family and everyone’s always amused at my disappointment when I don’t see something. Therefore, I was thrilled to spot an echidna as soon as we drove through the gates. It turns out, Tidbinbilla is extremely rewarding for animal spotting.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve has 21 walks listed on the map which vary from a 15 minute stroll to an 8 hour bushwalk. Being short on time we knew we’d only be able to see a small section and chose the 2.1km Sanctuary Loop with a recommended time of 90 minutes. This area is teaming with wildlife including a wide variety of birdlife, koalas, brush-tailed wallabies, platypus and various reptiles.
I mentioned earlier I love seeing wildlife in its natural setting and this even extends to deadly snakes. I was happy to see this Red-belly black snake slithering through the bush. I have a long lens on my camera so please know, I kept a respectful distance between me and the snake.
It seemed at every turn we were spotting an animal and judging by the excited little voices of the other kids visiting for school holidays, many kids were enjoying the animal spotting as much as me.
The pathways are a mixture of surfaces from boardwalk, bitumen, compact gravel and dirt paths. Although we had put BJ’s off-road tyres on his chair in anticipation of rough surfaces, we feel his manual chair would have coped well.
We were impressed by the many volunteers around the reserve who engaged with visitors and took time to point out the best wildlife viewing areas If visiting in school holidays check the website for the ranger led activities.
Although wheelchair accessible, we found the Eucalypt Forest a little steep (but doable), for pushing BJ’s manual chair. It would be a breeze with a power chair and is worthwhile as we spotted wallabies, potoroos and koalas.
Visitors can drive around a circuit in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve but you will need to get out of the car to see the best the reserve has to offer.
Accessible parking spaces are available in the car parks throughout the reserve.
Accessible stand-alone unisex bathrooms are plentiful, including at the Visitors Centre. and at various points around the Sanctuary. Accessible bathrooms are marked on the map.
A TrailRider is available for visitors to borrow to use for the unsealed tracks. It is advisable to book this in advance to avoid disappointment.
We are always excited to find a wheelchair accessible walk which is interesting and visually rewarding. Although the platypus proved elusive, I loved walking to the sound of the distinctive call of the Banjo frogs. This walk is also good for younger kids who need encouragement to keep walking and also perfect for prams. We definitely recommend putting Tidbinbilla on your to-see list for Canberra.
You can read more about Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve here.
Just up the road from Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is the Canberra Space Centre which is wheelchair accessible, free and well worth visiting while in the area. You can read more about the Space Centre here.