There are so many outings which were a part of my childhood that I took for granted until we were unable to do them with BJ. Last weekend we had the opportunity to take BJ into some caves on a beach, aptly named Caves Beach. He was thrilled with the experience. It filled me with joy seeing him so excited with the process of exploring. As well as sharing our experience at Caves Beach I thought I’d take a look and see if I could find any other wheelchair accessible caves. I have listed the ones I’ve found at the end of this blog post.
CAVES BEACH NSW
A friend raved about Caves Beach which she visited with her three small children. The photos looked wonderful but we were unsure about access. We were lucky to arrive at low tide which meant we could use BJ’s beach wheelchair. Don’t worry if you don’t have your own beach wheelchair there is one available from the Caves Beach Surf Lifesaving Club.
I was expecting one cave on the beach but there are a series of caves.
Not all the caves were wide enough to fit BJ’s wheelchair but AJ gave us a full report of what she found as she crawled and made her way through the few BJ couldn’t fit in.
The main cave is wide and provides a nice frame for the ocean beyond.
BJ loved having a choice of which cave to explore next.
BJ is a social person and Caves Beach proved very social with people stopping to compliment him on his wheels and generally have a chat.
We visit lots of beaches in our travels but Caves Beach stands out as being unique.
Although I’ve spent a long time highlighting the caves be assured that Caves beach is also just a lovely patrolled beach to be enjoyed.
ACCESS AT CAVES BEACH
Caves Beach has two accessible parking spaces beside Stuart Chalmers Park.
A MLAK key locked Changing Places bathroom is available with hoist, adult-size change table and a shower bench for the shower. Although we don’t need a Changing Places bathroom, we were thrilled to see the bathroom door was wide enough for a beach wheelchair to fit through. It’s something we struggle with when using a regular accessible bathroom.
The Caves Beach Surf Lifesaving Club has a Sandcruiser beach wheelchair (same as BJ’s chair) available for use during the life guard season. You can contact them here for more information.
Check the tides before heading to the beach. Low tide is required to have easy beach wheelchair access to the caves.
BJ’s excitement during our visit to the caves made me curious to see if I could find other wheelchair accessible caves. Please note we have not visited any of the caves below so I cannot guarantee the level of accessibility. I suggest you research, phone and ask lots of questions if you are making a trip to visit any of the following caves.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE CAVES
MAMMOTH CAVE, MARGARET RIVER REGION
Mammoth Cave is the most easily accessible of all the show caves in the region, with the first chamber actually accessible by wheelchair. It is a self-guided cave, where you explore on your own while listening to an informative ‘audio tour’ through the MP3 player and headset provided. You are free to wander at your own pace along the boardwalks and platforms, through the majestic chambers of the cave. Mammoth Cave is also one of just a few caves in the south west which contains fossils.
You can read more information about the cave here.
Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park is located 29km north west of Mount Gambier.
Tantanoola is one of Australia’s few wheelchair accessible caves. Upon arrival, enjoy a special hosted experience as a knowledgeable guide introduces you to the history and geology of the caves and explains how its spectacular array of formations has developed over thousands of years. You are then free to stroll through the large cavern at your leisure and take photographs.
You can read more about the cave on the National Parks South Australia website here.
PARKS VICTORIA – BUCHAN CAVE RESERVE
Parks Victoria have a wonderful access and inclusions program and have many facilities available to visitors. One of the more unique is a stair climber within the Buchan Caves Reserve.
It is described on their website as follows –
Both Fairy Cave and Royal Cave have many steps, narrow passageways and uneven ground making general cave access for visitors with significant mobility limitations not possible. However, the end section of Fairy Cave can be accessed by children and light adults with mobility limitations using an electric Stairclimber. This equipment enables visitors to experience one of the most spectacular viewing areas of Fairy Cave. The Stairclimber is provided by the Buchan Caves Reserve and can take passengers up to 60kgs in weight. To use the Stairclimber, visitors who use wheelchairs are required to transfer from their personal wheelchair into the Stairclimber. The Stairclimber is operated by an experienced cave guide who will take the visitor down into Fairy Cave.
Please note that the Stairclimber needs to be booked. For full information head to the Parks Victoria website here.
CAPRICORN CAVES (Near Rockhampton, Qld)
It sounds like this cave is wheelchair friendly but has at least one steep incline which may mean a visitor would need assistance in a manual wheelchair. The website describes the tour as follows –
“This popular tour has something for everyone! Showcasing our most spectacular caves, this walk leaves you with lasting memories of ancient geological history, early explorers, the wonders of wildlife and special cave acoustics. Leaving our caves through the Zig Zag passage and suspension bridge, you finish with a sense of adventure.
All caves are well lit and Cathedral Cave is wheelchair accessible. For group bookings, we can arrange night tours when the mood of the caves is simply magical.”
You can read more about this cave tour on their website here.
WIND CAVE – NATIONAL PARK SOUTH DAKOTA
The website describes accessibility as follows – “Wind Cave National Park offers a number of options to visitors with accessibility needs. The visitor center, cave, picnic area, and Elk Mountain Campground are accessible to all visitors including visitors with limited mobility.”
There is wheelchair access to limited areas of the cave and you can read more about booking a tour here.
If you’ve visited an accessible cave we’d love to hear about it so we can share it with others.
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Justin McDonald says
Wellington Caves (60km from Dubbo) have a couple of areas the main fully accessible is the Salt mine, very interesting.
The Capricorn cave does have steep incline but ringing ahead will get you assistance. You go a different path than others but dont miss out on much at all.
Fantastic Justin. We’ll have to check it out when next out that way.
Helen Dyer says
Thanks so much for posting about cave access, caving is one of the things I really miss doing but there are more than I realised 👍
There is also a cave at Yarrangobilly in the Kosciosko National Park that is accessible on a guided tour. I plan to do it this spring with my 9yo and her grandfather .
I’m glad it’s helpful Helen.