by ALEC SMART
Waverley Council is improving disabled access to popular tourist spot Bondi Beach, which, on hot summer days, can attract up to 40,000 people.
On Sat 1 Feb at 11am they’re launching Access Bondi, the official opening of the new accessible ramp at North Bondi, near the Wally Weekes and North Bondi Children’s. Beach matting will also be rolled out and beach wheelchairs available to use, accompanied by music and a BBQ.
Waverley Council Media Officer Deborah Field informed City Hub: “Access Bondi Project aims to improve access to Bondi Beach including our new accessible ramp, lockers for our beach wheelchairs (that can be booked and accessed independently) and the provision of beach matting from the ramp along the beach.
We were one of the first Councils in NSW to install an accessible ramp at North Bondi many, many years ago, but the recently upgraded amenities at North Bondi were designed with improved access in mind, with accessible toilets and shower.
The beach wheelchairs have also been available to use for some time, but were located under the lifeguard tower. Now, the locker system allows the wheelchairs to be booked online or over the phone, then accessed independently using a pin code.
We’re also looking to roll out our matting for beach wheelchairs even more regularly, tidal conditions depending. They are currently rolled out a few times a week.”
Beach attracts millions
It is estimated that 2.6 million tourists visit Bondi each year to relax on the sand and swim in the surf. However, it is often challenging for the less mobile, such as wheelchair or mobility aid users, to access the beach or the sea, especially during peak use.
Waverley Council is working on several initiatives for the less-mobile. On the council website, former Mayor John Wakefield said: “The Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) recognises the underlying social responsibility of Local Government to work in partnership with other agencies to remove barriers to participation in our communities, to protect the rights of people with disability, and to promote the value of diversity and inclusion.
Waverley and Randwick City Councils have worked together to achieve a more coordinated approach to making our communities accessible and welcoming… and include a series of actions to improve the lives of people with disability, their friends, family and carers…”
Waverley Council constructed a wheelchair-accessible path through Marks Park, Tamarama, in 2019, to enable mobility-impaired people to enjoy its sea views all year round.
Sculptures By The Sea, who utilise Marks Park for 3 weeks a year, strongly objected, stating it impinged upon their temporary exhibition space. They used this as their excuse to suspend a 22-year relationship with Waverley Council to host the annual sculpture exhibition along the Bondi-Tamarama seafront trail, and are pursuing more lucrative offers elsewhere.
For those requiring a beach wheelchair advance booking is essential.
Call 9083 8400 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos will speak at the Access Bondi launch event at 11.30am.
Further information: https://www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/recreation/events/events/access_bondi_launch_party
Disabled access to Bondi Beach
Disabled parking bays are located on Queen Elizabeth Drive, near Bondi Pavilion and Ramsgate Ave, close to the accessible amenities at the northern end of the beach.
333 route buses run frequently between Bondi Beach and the city and bus stops can be found on Campbell Parade near the beach main entrance.
Wheelchair access to Bondi Park and the promenade can be accessed from the main entrance on Campbell Parade and from the northern end of the beach. Access to the sand is from a ramp located at the northern end of the beach.
A large mat, for people using their own wheelchair or mobility aid, is currently rolled out twice weekly on Thursdays and Saturdays from 8:30am to 2pm (surf and weather conditions permitting), at the northern end ramp of Bondi Beach, near Wally Weekes pool. The matting also enables children’s prams and push-chairs to be taken onto the beach level.
Accessible and ambulant toilets are located close to the accessible ramp and beach wheelchair storage alongside the North Bondi amenities. Accessible toilets are also located at Bondi Pavilion.
An outdoor shower is located beside the beach wheelchair storage locker. An accessible shower and change room is also located at Bondi Pavilion. Unlocking the door requires an MLAK key, or ask Pavilion staff for assistance.