Carless travel with a wheelchair

Kathy is looking for wheelchair-friendly locations in Australia which she and her daughter can visit without a car.

Q. Kathy
 I’m in my 60s and live in Melbourne with my 28-year-old daughter and would like to take her on holiday. However, my daughter has suffered from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) for 10 years and is now almost housebound. Apart from medical visits, she only leaves the house occasionally for low energy activities. It would be great to give her a change of scenery.

I am trying to find somewhere we could get to easily (neither of us drive), somewhere she could relax, take interesting photos (something she loves doing), and somewhere that caters for special diets or is self-catering and near good food shops. We are looking for anything from a short break to a two-week holiday. With thanks, Kathy

A. Any trips you do without a car will need to rely on public transport, which limits your options but doesn’t make it impossible. You can get to both Queenscliff and Phillip Island without too many interchanges by catching the V/Line train or regional bus service from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne’s CBD. The Phillip Island bus deposits you in the heart of Cowes, the main town, so it would not be difficult to find self-contained accommodation within walking and wheeling distance. The restaurants on Phillip Island aren’t known for their special-diet catering, however, the local Coles supermarket carries gluten-free products and the Island Food Store is, in my experience, very helpful when it comes to dietary requirements. 

It is also possible to reach a number of the other towns along the Great Ocean Road via regional public transport.

If you want to go inland, it is quite simple to reach both Bendigo and Ballarat via regional bus. The gold-rush era architecture in these towns is very beautiful, and well worth a few photos. 

In terms of accommodation, finding regional towns which accommodate special dietary requirements can be tricky. I would recommend looking for something self-contained, which has cooking facilities. It is probably a good idea to pack some food for your first night, as it is likely you will both be tired after a day of travelling. For wheelchair-friendly accommodation in Victoria, try the Travel Victoria website. Another great website is Air BnB, where you can search for special requirements, and the owners often have helpful knowledge of the area in which you will be staying.

Do you have any suggestions for Kathy and her daughter? Share your thoughts in the comments below.