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Australia's stunning landscapes inspire awe in the hearts of locals and world travellers alike. From the Flinders Ranges to the Kimberley, there is a never-ending world of beauty to explore and fall in love with in our great outdoors.
National Tree Day on July 29, 2018, presents an unmissable opportunity to spend some time with Mother Nature herself, enjoying the best accessible nature trails our gorgeous country has to offer.
In honor of the occasion, we have compiled a list featuring some of the best nature trails and outdoor recreation areas accessible to wheelchair users and people with disabilities in each state.
Accessible Trails in South Australia
The Adelaide Park Lands Trail
The Adelaide Park Lands Trail is a beloved local track that sprawls through the city's parklands and across the River Torrens.
There are three circuits of varying lengths to choose from. The full circuit totals a distance of 18.1km, while the Southern Adelaide circuit is 16km, and the North Adelaide circuit is a little shorter at 9km.
The Park Lands Trail is a serene and beautiful way to explore Adelaide's hidden gems along the Torrens River, and provides many quiet spots to birdwatch, enjoy a picnic, or relax in the sun. There are also several cafes dotted along the path and a playground for the kids. Elder Park, about halfway along the trail on the banks of the River Torrens, comes alive in the warmer months with many cultural festivals and music concerts.
The trail is open daily, and is free to use.
Situated in the picturesque Adelaide Hills, the Laratinga Wetlands are a beautiful spot to stop and appreciate nature. There are three defined trails around the area, and the wetlands also intersect with the Mount Baker Linear Trail, which winds through the small town and ends at Keith Stephenson Park.
Within the wetlands themselves, the Chestnul Teal Trail is 0.75km of track looping around the eastern end, while the Rosella Trail is a little longer at 2km, and the Sacred Iris Trail spans 2.6km and circles around the entire wetlands system.
The recreational area at Laratinga features a large picnic area, barbecues, benches, shelters, and bathroom facilities. The trails' pathways were designed to meet accessibility standards, and the area is a popular place for families, dog-walking, and cycling.
Accessible Trails in New South Wales
Bungoona Path and Lookout
The Bungoona trail just south of Sydney in the Royal National Park boasts a cement pathway that was specifically designed for wheelchair and mobility aid accessibility. The path meanders up to a scenic lookout over the awe-inspiring river and national park. Nearby, you'll find the Reids Flat picnic area, and if you're lucky enough to spot them, some local yellow-tailed cockatoos and lorikeets feasting on the native flora.
Prospective adventurers can view a virtual tour of the Bungoona path using Google Street View, and while the track itself is free to use, park entry fees of $12 per vehicle per day do apply.
Nearby in the Royal National Park, you’ll also find the peaceful Ironbank Flat picnic area. The Flat is wheelchair accessible, and features a barbecue area with the option to hire canoes, or to simply relax and enjoy the quiet serenity by the banks of the Hacking River.
The Rainforest Walking Track
Nestled in the Robertson Nature Reserve about two hours out of Sydney is the wheelchair-friendly Rainforest Walking Track. The track provides a leisurely journey through a dense rainforest environment and is a birdwatcher’s dream come true.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service advises that while the path is designed for disability access, some assistance may be required when navigating the track in a wheelchair, so it’s a good idea to visit this one with some nature loving friends or family members.
The Rainforest Walking Track is free to use, and runs in a 0.6km loop.
Accessible Trails in Queensland
Nestled amongst tropical and subtropical trees in the heart of the Buderim Forest Park sits the Buderim Boardwalk, a wheelchair-friendly 500m long elevated walking track that is designed to allow visitors access to the rainforest’s wet areas.
The boardwalk boasts a stunning rotunda, and nearby picnic and recreation areas.
Barron Falls Lookout Track
The Barron Falls Lookout Track inside the Barron Gorge National Park is a wheelchair-accessible nature trail suspended above the forest floor. The trail weaves 1.2km through the rainforest leading to the Din Din Barron Falls lookout.
Experience the falls tumbling down the gorge in the wet weather season as you are blanketed in a spectacular cloud of mist, or visit in the summer months to witness them splashing down the gorge walls in the sun.
The nearby Skyrail Rainforest Cableway over the gorge also offers wheelchair accessible facilities, and the nearby Speewah Conservation Park campgrounds are wheelchair-friendly as well.
Accessible Trails in Northern Territory
The Kathleen Springs trail in the Watarrka National Park is a gentle and wheelchair accessible 2.4km journey along a paved pathway to a spring fed waterhole in Kathleen Gorge, where you can rest and enjoy the serenity of your surroundings.
Along the trail, you will learn stories of Aboriginal culture and the area’s history in the cattle industry. It is important to note that there is no drinking water available once you have left the car park area, so you will need to pack a generous supply for your trip.
Uluru Base Walk
The Uluru Base Walk is a 10.6km loop around Uluru, and the trail is wheelchair accessible for the entire trip. After your day is over, be sure to stay for the stunning beauty of sunset as Uluru changes colour before your eyes.
Accessible Trails in Western Australia
Turquoise Way Trail
The Turquoise Way Trail at Jurien Bay is a 14.2 km wheelchair-friendly track in the Coral Coast region that runs from the Jurien Bay Marina to the Hill River Mouth. The trail offers breathtaking views along the coast, and passes through Dobbyn Park for access to picnic areas, barbecue facilities, public bathrooms, playgrounds, drinking water and cafes.
Forest Path is a nature trail in Crooked Brook Conservation Park, 25km from Bunbury. The trail is a 600m wheelchair-friendly loop through the jarrah forest, showcasing the local flora and fauna. It is particularly gorgeous to visit in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming.
Accessible Trails in Tasmania
Just inside the Mount Field National Park, Russell Falls is a beloved Tasmanian icon. The path is sealed and wheelchair-friendly, and follows a 600m circuit that takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. Surrounded by swamp gums, myrtle, and dogwood trees, relax in nature as you take in some of the most stunning sights that Tasmania has to offer.
The nearby Mount Field National Park Visitor Center provides accessible bathrooms, a cafe, and an abundance of information about nearby landmarks and the history of the local area.
The Thermal Springs Sensory Trail
The Thermal Springs Sensory Trail at Hastings Cave State Reserve is a specially designed trail for people with disabilities along a wheelchair accessible boardwalk. The trail is a 10 minute journey through a wet forest area to a warm spring and a giant eucalypt. You are invited to use all of your senses as you experience the springs, from feeling the water temperature to listening to the bubbling stream. The trail has also been designed to accommodate the experience of visually impaired guests.
Hastings Cave State Reserve itself is also wheelchair friendly, with a fully accessible visitor center and cafe. Hastings Cave also boasts the only swimming pool in Australia that is filled with water from the thermal springs. Although wheelchair users may need assistance to reach the swimming pool area, the pool itself is fully accessible including the change room and bathrooms.
Accessible Trails in Victoria
Lake Trail is an easy 2km circuit of Lake Karkarook with a smooth, wheelchair-friendly asphalt track surface. The trail features a small, peaceful picnic area with open-sided tables, a wheelchair-friendly boat and canoe latching area, and an accessible fishing jetty. You’ll also be able to enjoy some quiet bird and wildlife watching in the lake’s bird hide.
The Surf Coast Walk
The Surf Coast Walk is a 44km trail over mostly fine gravel paths, with some sections which are sand or sealed track. Spanning the beaches of Australia’s surfing capital, the trail can easily be split into smaller sections depending on the desired length of your trip. Many parts of the Walk are wheelchair accessible, and the Visit Melbourne organisation recommends the Yellow Bluff to Point Danger section for wheelchair users.
This 1.5km section of The Surf Coast Walk is a gentle, flat trail showcasing the Torquay promenade all the way through to the panoramic views of Point Danger.
No matter where you are in the beautiful Australian landscape on our National Tree Day, there is an accessible nature trail just waiting for you to explore it.