Late last year you may have heard the pioneering news that the Queensland Government named 2023 the year of Accessible Tourism. Obviously, the purpose is to recognise the importance of accessible tourism experiences for all, but the primary drive is to ignite change and create opportunities for Queensland Tourism Businesses to be better prepared for people of all abilities.
With over $12 million in new funding being distributed throughout the State, the providers have ramped it up to better cater to everyone and provide a greater destination experience for all holidaymakers into the Sunshine State. Of course, this doesn’t mean adding a few ramps and painting a few car parks with the iconic blue disability logo. It includes adapting airports and accommodation facilities and rooms, boosting accessible transport, attractions, experiences and public areas, plus increasing training to help make travellers with disability travel with confidence. These changes won’t happen overnight, but Queensland is one State making the change for good.
And there’s one destination in Queensland that is leading the way. We are pleased to tell you that our favourite location, and Australia’s number 1 holiday destination, the Gold Coast has delivered what we see as the most game changing guide to showcase some of what the regions accommodation, attractions, experiences, transport providers are doing to cater for everyone.
Famous for its endless sunshine, renowned surf breaks, golden beaches as far as the eye can see, theme park’s, 100,000 HA of world-famous heritage listed rainforests, more canals than Venise and Amsterdam combined, endless dining options including over 20 hatted restaurants, and shopping options from high-street luxury to premium outlet shopping. It’s a haven crafted with love for all abilities and all desires.
The star of the moment is the Gold Coasts Accessible Visitor Guide which was meticulously crafted through a brilliant collaboration between Destination Gold Coast and City of Gold Coast who engaged accessibility giants Inclusive Tourism Australia and The Access Agency to produce a Guide filled with everything you need to better plan your ideal stay away from home. Cue a guide that’s fun, easy to follow, and unlike any resource we’ve ever seen in this space. With question-and-answer format, this guide is your personal itinerary planner, covering everything from location vibes to accommodation styles with everything you ask for including heights, widths, clearances details – it’s got it all. Story telling visuals make sure you’re not just imagining your dream holiday, you’re planning it with meticulous precision including – you guessed it – actual bathroom images so you know what you’re in for.
When you think it can’t get better, look again as the Gold Coast isn’t just stopping at the Accessible Visitor Guide. They’ve pulled out all the stops with even more resources to ensure your adventure is smooth sailing. They have Mobility Maps proving clear routes and accessible paths, Changing Places Toilet Locations to ensure comfort is never compromised, an Gold Coast Accessible Beaches Program showcasing locations where the famed GC Lifeguards roll out the “blue carpet” better known as beach access mats and offering access to beach-friendly wheelchairs. Then there’s your personal tour DJ with VacayIt who crafted 20 audio guides through an easy to download app with over 100 accommodation, attraction and experience options recommended, painting the picture so you can navigate the Gold Coast with a tap and smile.
From the lush Northern suburbs with endless golf courses, scenic river cruises and home to many of the City’s iconic theme parks, your accommodation options range from 5 star resorts like the Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove with the most stunning lagoon beach pool, to stunning apartments at Azzura Greens Resort in the prestigious Hope Island Resort Community, or NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Park which is a haven for kids and located close to Harbour Town Premium Outlets with 220 stores all offering the best bargains for your wallet. Our hot tip when visiting Harbour Town is to pop into their Tourism Lounge and get yourself a bonus tourist discount card packed with further special offers and discounts on already reduced prices.
If you prefer the excitement of the pulsating heart of Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach or Burleigh where the neon lights meet the surf, the guide is filled to the brim with luxury hotels such as the JW Marriott with its award winning saltwater lagoon and swim up grotto, countless Mantra, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Ultiqa hotels and standalone apartments, all with unique features and suitable for all budgets, to the family friendly options like Sea World Resort and Paradise Resort Gold Coast, awarded Australia’s Best Family Resort for the 11th year in a row. In this section, you’ll be blessed with dining options galore, entertainment at every corner, and kilometres of coastal pathways, offering even more options than you can imagine.
Heading down to the Southern Gold Coast you’ll find a surfing haven with pristine rainforests that meet the sea. Stretching from Palm Beach to Coolangatta this area is all about the beach, coastal adventures, craft brewery’s, dining options at a more laid-back pace, and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary where you can hang out with hundreds of native and exotic animals and test your hand at feeding Australia’s most colourful bird species, the local wild lorikeets, where they will eat right from your hands. Here you can fly in and stay at the Ultra funky Rydges Gold Coast Airport hotel, or head to the Sebel Twin Towns Coolangatta directly connected to Twin Towns, where you’ll be spoilt with everything the club offers and more. Or you can opt for one of the family and fur baby friendly Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park or Kirra Beach Tourist Parks boasting unpowered and powered sites, through to accessible cabins and community facilities to get amongst it with other likeminded travellers.
But when a stay on the coastline isn’t to your fancy, venture out to the Gold Coasts Hinterland. Why not splash out in opulence at the exquisite Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, escaping the hustle and bustle in the Tallebudgera Valley at a wellness destination known to soothe your soul and inspire you to live a healthier life – which let’s face it – we all need from time to time. And for a more surreal and intimate stay in the hinterland, the Mouses House Retreat Springbrook is a hidden gem hidden amongst an enchanted rainforest and available for romantic couples, families or a small group of friends. For the sportier amongst us, check out RACV Royal Pines Resort with direct access to their championship golf course or Elite Gold Coast with close proximity to the Gold Coast Sports Precinct and Heritage Bank Stadium. For our NRL Fans, go no further than the Quest Robina with stunning accessible apartments and located right next to the Cbus Super Stadium and just across the road from the Robina Train Station and Robina Town Shopping Centre.
To our friends living with disability, the Gold Coast isn’t just a destination, it’s a celebration of inclusivity, accessibility that offers the undeniable spirit of adventure for all. We want you to remember that this lifetime is meant to be enjoyable and fulfilling, and with the Gold Coast’s Accessible Visitor Guide leading the way and a suite of resources at your fingertips, you are ensured a seamless experience destined to be celebrated for all. So to all of our adventurers, download the Accessible Visitor Guide today and let the good times roll. Let the Gold Coast be your playground of possibility for an accessible and inclusive adventure like no other.
Written by Michelle Massey – Amplify Accessible Travel Specialists