Meet the wildlife at Australia Zoo
From the coast to the hinterland there is a whole lot to explore and the good news is that no matter what your ability may be, there’s a wide range of accessible and inclusive destinations worthy of your time.
Read on for an accessible two-day itinerary filled with all the wildlife you can imagine.
Breakfast along Mooloolaba Esplanade
First thing’s first, you’re going to want to kick off your sunny getaway by fuelling up on Mooloolaba Esplanade (naturally). With uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean Mooloolaba Esplanade is an absolute gem of a place with a whole heap of outdoor dining available (plus most of the precinct features movable seating to cater for anyone with a wheelchair or mobility device). Stroll the streets and make your decision on the spot or hit up Melody’s licensed cafe which is family-friendly, wheelchair-friendly and even pet-friendly (not to mention it has alfresco dining, perfect for loading up on homemade cakes, pastries and milkshakes).
Family on Mooloolaba Boardwalk
Morning at The Wharf Mooloolaba
Trulyyour one-stop shop for all things, The Wharf Mooloolaba is a heavenly shopping precinct which backs up against the Mooloolah River and Marina. This recently refurbished haven boasts a lot more than just drool worthy eats (think a whole heap of retail therapy too) and provides a tonne of access thanks to wide passageways and level entry to all shops and dining venues. Knock out a few hours at Universal Games, a seaside arcade space or hit the award-winning SEA LIFE - an unmissable experience boasting incredible underwater displays, touch tanks, an 80-metre walk through a tunnel and a whole heap of immersive activities. You’ll find disabled parking available in the main car park at the wharf, with access to the aquarium featuring a very handy ramp and double-wide entry doors.
Family meal at The Dock, Mooloolaba
Afternoon on Mooloolaba Beach
To wind down for the day, it really doesn’t get better than Mooloolaba Beach. Its natural beauty is pretty unbeatable, but it also goes down as one of the most accessible beaches in Australia thanks to its concrete ramp and beach matting located at Mooloolaba Surf Life Saving Club. The crew here patrol the beach to the very south of Seashells Park. You can pre-register for use of the beach wheelchair right here.
Accessible beach wheelchair, Mooloolaba
Overnight at Newport Mooloolaba
With views of the coast and Mooloolaba Esplanade, an overnight stay at Newport Mooloolaba is non-negotiable. For starters, each of the 16 rooms here boast a whole lot of space and if you’re needing a little more accessibility than that, you’ll want to book a stay in one of the wheelchair-friendly apartments. These stays come with all the mod cons so you really don’t have to worry about a thing - the third bedroom offers up an electric height adjustable king single, a 155kg portable hoist (you’ll just need to BYO sling), an accessible bathroom complete with fixed grab bars, a mobile shower with swing-away arm and foot rests, roll-in shower access and a whole lot more.
Breakfast at Flo’s Creperie at The Wharf Mooloolaba
Flo’s Creperie at The Wharf Mooloolaba is one of the most popular restaurants around so you’re going to want to eat your bodyweight in tasty savoury and sweet crepes (you’ll find vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options too) and coffee too. You’ll find outdoor seating with wheelchair accessibility, or you can choose to takeaway and enjoy your feed in the sunshine on the Esplanade.
Morning at Australia Zoo
Australia Zoo is home to a team of conservationists who work around the clock to make it one of the very best and might we add—in the world, so it goes without saying you need to spend some serious time here. There’s a lot to check out including animal encounters, conservation shows (the Crocoseum is a must-visit for obvious reasons, think jumping crocodiles, and keeps designated wheelchair spots on the upper level with rampant lift access between upper and lower levels) and zoo tours too.
You can hire wheelchairs and motorised scooters for the day and all pathways throughout the zoo are asphalt with gentle slopes. There's also an accessible shuttle bus that runs from point ‘Africa’ to the main entry building. For more info, head here.
Afternoon at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World
If by some chance you don’t spend an entire day at Australia Zoo and have some more time to spare, it’s also worth venturing out to Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, dubbed the ‘natural jewel’ of the Sunshine Coast hinterland (and for good reason too). Made up of 100 acres of subtropical rainforest, there are three main walking loops to take, with the Pademelon Loop suitable for people of all abilities, including wheelchair users and anyone with a pram.
Couple walking at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland
Got more time to spare? Make your next pitstop the Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World, a privately-owned garden perfect for any nature-lover. The gardens are built on a steep site so the team here have made a bunch of accommodations for anyone with limited mobility. You’ll find accessible toilets and parking spots, wheelchair-friendly cafes and retail (including the aviaries), and you can even hire an electric golf cart to transport you around to some of the most difficult locations. For more information, head here.
Dinner at Banana Bender Pub
To cap your trip off, whisk yourselves away to one of Queensland’s quirkiest pubs. The Banana Bender Pub is like something out of a children’s book with a tonne of photo opps ranging from its kitsch facade to the famous statue of a kangaroo surfing. Here, there’s disabled parking with ramped access to the pub entrance and inside, you’ll find ample space to set yourself up. The beer garden has varying levels with ramps and a lift is available to the second-floor function and dining space too.