Accessible accommodation sets new benchmark in NSW

Published on 08 July 2020

Amelia and Braeden Jones test the new Belmont cabin.jpg

State of the art accessible cabins in Lake Macquarie are set to tap into one of Australia’s most lucrative domestic and international tourism market sectors.

Lake Mac Holiday Parks today opened fully accessible cabins at its Swansea Lakeside, Blacksmiths Beachside and Belmont Lakeside sites, with each featuring technology that far exceeds Australian standards for people with a disability.

Features include ramps to each cabin, fully automatic doors and blinds, motorised adjustable shelves and benchtops and accessible bathrooms.

Lake Mac Holiday Parks Coordinator Garry Ellem said other new accessible features included a wheelchair pool ramp at Blacksmiths Beachside, a wheelchair pool hoist at Belmont Lakeside, an aquatic wheelchair and accessible playground carousel at Swansea Lakeside and communal facilities across all three sites.

“Creating an accessible destination requires a big-picture approach,” Mr Ellem said.

“It’s more than just being wheelchair-friendly. It’s about catering for the many and varied needs of everyone, whether it is visitors with mobility restriction, parents with a pram or people with vision impairment.”

Research commissioned by the Australian Government found that accessible tourism was worth an estimated $8 billion a year domestically.

International travellers with accessibility needs added another $2.8 billion in annual value.

That makes it Australia’s highest-value tourism market sector, ahead of tourists inbound from China.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser said she was proud to see the City forge ahead with its commitment to improve accessibility.

“Our Disability Inclusion Action Plan aims to create more liveable communities, and nurture positive community attitudes towards people with a disability,” Cr Fraser said.

“Providing this kind of accommodation, and putting them front-and-centre in our holiday parks, helps us drive towards these goals.”

Sydney magazine editor and blogger Julie Jones, whose Have Wheelchair Will Travelblog catalogues her family’s travels, said that while one in five Australians lived with a disability, there was “a distinct lack” of truly accessible accommodation.

The Jones family was the first to road-test the Belmont Lakeside accessible cabins last weekend.

“The attention to detail and consideration of the needs of people with a disability shown in the design and features of the Belmont property are the best we’ve seen in a mainstream accommodation provider’s offerings,” Ms Jones said.

“The fact the accessible accommodation has a view is even more rare.”

Lake Macquarie City Council Ageing and Disability Advisory Panel member Lorraine Blair expected “huge” interest in the new cabins.

“To quote a well-known film, ‘Build it and they will come’,” Ms Blair said.

“Council have shown they are really trying to make our area fully inclusive of all people, and there is a lot on the agenda for more exciting things.”

The new Lake Mac Holiday Parks offerings include a two-bedroom accessible cabin at Blacksmiths Beachside, a three-bedroom and two-bedroom accessible cabin at Swansea Lakeside and two adjoining one-bedroom cabins at Belmont Lakeside that can open into a single cabin for large families.

Go to lakemacholidayparks.com.au for bookings.