Bayside beaches access vital for all

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Fun in the sun: Cooper, 10, enjoys a day out at Seaford beach, one of several bayside beaches offering disabled access. Picture: Bron Smith

Fun in the sun: Cooper, 10, enjoys a day out at Seaford beach, one of several bayside beaches offering disabled access.
Picture: Bron Smith

PLANNING a day at the beach when disabled access is a priority can be stressful but a travel blog by a Carrum family has made it easier for local families to plan ahead for trips to bayside beaches.

The Smith family – mother Bron, father Andrew and children Cooper, 10, Pepper, 7, and Elwood, 3 – are keen travellers and don’t let Cooper’s cerebral palsy get in the way of holidays and trips off the beaten track.

“It’s my respite from life. We love to travel and that’s one of our top priorities,” Mrs Smith said.

“It can’t always be perfect with accessibility but it’s good to give it a try.”

The family’s latest blog post examined how easy it is to access Frankston and Kingston beaches when using a wheelchair.

Mrs Smith says accessibility has improved over the years but there is still some room for improvement. Wheelchairs are available to hire at several bayside surf lifesaving clubs and ramps now lead to the beach but the mother-of-three says it can still be a struggle to get to the sea.

“Access is good until you get to the sand but from sand to water is the tricky thing,” she said.

She notes Hobsons Bay Council has introduced beach matting on the sand at beaches and hopes Frankston and Kingston councils follow suit in future summers.

“That would be ideal if we could see it down here. Somewhere like Carrum beach – from the ramp to the water is like a day trip to get down there.”

Overall though, Mrs Smith is impressed with the efforts made by local councils and lifesaving clubs to help those with a disability enjoy beach outings.

“There’s really good facilities at the lifesaving clubs so it makes someone with a disability or a family with a child with a disability feel much more welcome.”

The Smith family visited 11 bayside beaches and found five surf lifesaving clubs hired out a beach wheelchair and ten had accessible bathrooms.

See smithsholidayroad.com for a full checklist to “make it easier for you to get to the beach and know what to expect before you hit the carpark/train station”.

First published in the Frankston Times – 1 February 2016

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