It’s something most of us take for granted - a leisurely stroll or bike ride to your local beach. Or perhaps it’s a short bus ride or car trip and you’re there. Well, sort of. You circle round the block three times looking for a park before finding one in a neighbouring suburb and walking for 10 minutes. But hey, you’ve made it! Slip slop slap and time for fun.
But for some families this is a basic summer pastime that is either too hard or physically impossible.
Meet the Langan-Stark family: Petra, Steve and their children Hudson and Sawyer. One in 100 people use a wheelchair in Randwick City and among those is six-year-old Sawyer who has cerebral palsy. We met on Malabar beach to chat about accessibility in our City and share our gratitude for the restorative nature of our beaches over a glorious sunrise.
“Sawyer absolutely loves going to the beach,” says mum Petra. “However, taking someone with cerebral palsy to the beach can be challenging on many levels.
“There are times when something is ‘accessible’ but requires so much energy and effort that it becomes too overwhelming to accomplish or takes too long to make it a realistic outing.”
That’s why Randwick City Council is working hard to make our facilities, parks, buildings and beaches accessible to everybody in our community. We are working to remove barriers to help enable everybody, including those with a disability, to participate equally in their community.
“Places like Malabar and Clovelly are easy to access with either a beach wheelchair and beach mat in Malabar, or the ramp and close handicapped parking in Clovelly,” says Petra.
“We also go to the rock pool in Coogee, which we can access by going down the steps and straight into the rock pool and avoiding the sand altogether,” she says.
While not everything is accessible in Randwick City, Council is working towards changing this. We’ve pulled together a list of fun and accessible activities for the whole family to enjoy this summer.
1. Clovelly Beach
Everyone loves a dip at Clovelly beach. The water is surrounded by concrete platforms and promenades, which makes it a perfect expedition for those who don’t like sandy feet! It’s also a great spot for those who use a wheelchair, with a timber access ramp on the North Western corner of the beach. If you don’t own a water wheelchair – no problem. Beach-access wheelchairs can be borrowed from the Lifeguards during patrol hours.
2. Chifley Reserve Inclusive Playground
This unique playground includes fun play features and equipment that challenges people of all abilities from toddlers through to adults and includes sensory space, swings and play units. This one-of-a-kind playground was designed with the input of people with a disability and their parents and carers. It incorporates adjacent accessible parking and toilet facilities.
3. Frenchmans Bay Outdoor Gym
Frenchmans Bay Gym is an all-ages outdoor exercise area. Built in 2016, the facility has soft-fall ground covering, corrosion resistant metal equipment and paving around the perimeter. The gym has been specially designed for people of all ages and abilities, making it perfect for older people or those recovering from an injury. The gym is also conveniently located right next to Frenchmans Bay, so a post-exercise swim is always on the cards.
4. Randwick Environment Park
Escape the hustle and bustle of the beach this summer with a relaxing trip to Randwick Environment Park. The 13 hectares of parkland, bushland and wetland showcase the best of our Eastern Suburbs wildlife, with the endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub comprising an impressive 3.6 hectares of the park. Navigating your way through the park is a breeze, with wide footpaths, bike tracks and disabled toilets within the Randwick Community Centre.
5. Des Renford Leisure Centre
Lucky for us, a swim on a hot day isn’t restricted to the beach. Des Renford Leisure Centre is an award-winning gym, fitness and aquatic centre where everyone can feel comfortable to exercise and achieve their health and fitness goals. Portable hoists are available on site to assist people into the water as well as in change rooms. The purpose-built gym also accommodates those with low mobility, adjustable cable machines and equipment designed for wheelchair users.