Wheelchair travel in Sydney
After 21 hours of flight and a 2 hours stop in Dubaï, we finally arrived at Sydney airport. We take some Australians dollars and we head for a taxi. It doesn’t work the same way as in France. In France we have to take the first taxi on the line whereas here we can choose any of them. A sign tell us the prices of each compagnies. We choose the cheaper. No problem. We go towards our destination swiftly and the driver is nice. Once arrived, we catch up with our friend, who host us while in Sydney, and we go to bed. It’s already past midnight. Tomorrow, we will discover Sydney.
Day 1 : Zoo, burger and Vivid
For our first day, we choose to visit the Sydney’s zoo. According to many people, it’s a really good one and, from the zoo, we will have a magnificent view on Sydney Harbour. We were not disappointed! This is one of the most beautiful zoo I ever visited. We go from a pen to another almost without noticing it as the surroundings are very natural. We admire many animals from all continents and, of course, from Australia. We are really happy to see some wonderful bird species and, of course, the famous koalas, kangaroos and wallabies. Many entertainments are provided for the visitor. We missed the seals and raptors shows but we could stroke a wallaby and I even carry a big snake! Surprise : leafing through a pen we even were attacked by an free-range ostrich. It was threatening us and it continued to follow us until a warden acted. More shaken than injured, we leave unscathed.
Regarding the accessibility everything is well thought. The zoo is perfectly designed to welcome people in wheelchairs. They are some stairs and some steep hills but these obstacles can be easily bypassed. You just have to go through others pathways which are not so much longer. These are easy to find as you can take a special accessible map at the zoo entrance. The food stalls and the sanitary facilities are also accessibles. The admission fees include an access to the cable car which goes from the ferrys to the zoo so you can enjoy the view from it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t reach it with my wheelchair because the elevator was out of order and the other way requires to be able to climb severals decades of stairs. Nevertheless, a free and accessible shuttle can bring you to the entrance of the zoo.
This zoo day whet one’s appetite. We head in the direction of « Ze Pickle » to eat some burgers. The burger is really good and the bacon and maple syrup fries are terrific!
Once we are full, we take our first uber to go to the Vivid festival. This is an annual festival of illuminations and visual displays. It’s a kind like « la fête des lumières » in Lyon, France. The city is so nice, covered with all these colors, especially the opera. Unfortunately, the festival ends at 11pm. A bit too early I would say.
Day 2 : Chinatown and night market
The next day, direction Chinatown. We stroll in the Paddy’s market streets. This is a really big market where we can find everything at very cheap prices : fruits, vegetables, souvenirs, clothes and a lot of gadgets. This place reminds me of the Tokyo’s markets… At lunch I discover what is a « food court ». It’s a kind of hall inside where there are a lot of food stalls between which we can choose and then we can sit in the middle of all these shops to eat.
On the evening we go at the night market. This is a huge market where you find locals products and where it’s possible to eat a meal and taste the products. It’s a bit like the « salons de la gastronomie » in France but in a open-shed the « Carriage works ». We seize the moment to taste some Australian wines. Well…Not as good as French wine! At least, that particular one. Concerning the accessibility, despite that the shed is located under street level it’s easy to access it via a ramp.
Day 3 : Food and historic culture
Last day in the city center. It rains a lot. We decide to go in a café to eat a traditional Australian breakfast. We go at « Bread and Brew » in Surry Hills. We wait for an hour and the waitress is very unpleasant. She is nearly about to gasp in front of us and the others clients, waiting for her work day to end as soon as possible. Fortunately, the food is good. To give you an idea, an Australian break-fast looks like a British breakfast with fry halloumi (cheese from Cyprus), and more importantly, some avocado toasts. In Australia it is usual to eat avocado on a slice of bread for breakfast or also during others meals.
During the afternoon, we visited the Hyde Park Barracks. This is a museum about the history of the Australian civilisation. We learnt that the first Australians were British convicted criminals send to Australia to execute their penal servitude. We discovered in what conditions were living these men in the barracks. This is a really good museum. I picked up some interesting informations about Australia and now I better understand the relationship between this country and United Kingdom. The museum is only accessible on the ground floor. There is no elevator to go on the first and second floors. However there is a booklet with pictures of what you can see on theses floors and some explications. The staff is very sympathetic and kindly.
Sydney : a wheelchair friendly town
After three days in Sydney I can say that this is a very accessible city. Everything seems to be though to make disables people’s everyday life easier. Each public transport, trains, buses or ferrys are wheelchair accessibles. Buses have access ramps which can be set up if needed. Concerning the subway, the staff is very attentive and helpful. They will bring an access ramp if needed and they will tell the station where you will stop that you are on your way. I found elevators in every stations I stopped in.
In town, to go on and off the pavement is made easier by the many curb-cuts. There is also a sonor system at the walkways for the deaf people. The sound change when you can cross safely.
You also need to know that Sydney is a bit an hilly area. There is some lengthily slopes which can be really hard in a wheelchair. I think some may required some assistance by another person. But the public transports are really good so it’s possible to go everywhere easily most of the time.
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