News | 10 March 2015

Our iconic places set accessibility example

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Sydney Opera House

It’s great to see some of our cultural icons and natural places finally getting on board and taking accessibility more seriously. Here are two examples we’ve seen lately.

Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is the world’s most photographed building and one of Australia’s most iconic places. However, it hasn’t always been a place everyone can enjoy.

Just a few years ago people with limited mobility had to go through the back areas of the building and use the goods lift.

Now, the Sydney Opera House has made a commitment to provide barrier free access so that everyone can enjoy the building and the experiences it offers without being shunted out the back.

The building has been upgraded so that movement is much easier in all areas, with accessible escalators and lifts, as well as better seating and sight lines.

Wheelchairs are now available for loan, FM listening systems are installed in all the main venues, and there are selected audio described, live captioned and Auslan interpreted performances.

More work is needed but there is a plan in place to continue to improve access so that the Opera House can truly become a place for all Australians. Not before time too.

Buchan Caves Reserve, Victoria

The stair climber used in the Buchan caves.

Until recently only those lucky enough to have full mobility were able to experience the stunning limestone caves of the Buchan Caves Reserve in Victoria.

The only access to the Fairy Cave was to climb down narrow and steep steps and navigate uneven ground, ruling the trip out for many people with disability.

Now people with a disability are able to experience the Fairy Cave’s elaborate stalactites and stalagmites by using an electric Stairclimber.

The Stairclimber can take up to 60 kilograms and is specially designed for the caves and operated by a Parks Victoria guide.

Kudos to Parks Victoria for trying new technology to make natural places more accessible for everyone. As you may remember from one of our earlier posts, they are also supporting the motorised all-terrain wheelchairs in some of its parks and reserves.


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Hi, I’m Louise Sauvage.

When was the last time you visited Sydney Opera House? Things have changed. Access has been improved to all venues, so it makes it easier to come and see a wide variety of performances.

The new public lift provides undercover access to most areas of the site.

The Western Theatres and foyers now provide easy access from collecting your tickets before the show to improve access, both into and within the venues and better accessible seating and sightlines.

Escalators now link the Box Office level to the Southern Foyers at the Opera Theatre and Concert Hall.

For patrons unable to use escalators the friendly Host team will accompany you to these theatres via the Information Desk on Box Office level.

There are also courtesy wheelchairs for loan, selected audio described, live captioned and Auslan interpreted performances as well as FM listening systems installed in all the main venues.

Getting here you can catch the accessible shuttle bus from Circular Quay or park in an accessible space in the carpark. You can also be dropped off undercover right outside the new accessible entrance on Ground level, right outside the new accessible entrance on Ground Level.

Front of house staff are also available to bring patrons to a taxi after the show.

It is essential when booking tickets to let the Box Office know if you have any access requirements. These may include wheelchair and companion seating, best seats for viewing surtitles, captioning screens being accompanied by assistance animals or finding a seat with the least amount of stairs.

Explore the website for more detailed information on accessibility including information on wheelchair ticketing and companion card benefits. Alternatively, pick up an access brochure on site, or if you have any questions contact the helpful Box Office staff.

As Sydney Opera House keeps striving to make their performances and facilities accessible to all patrons it’s now time to come back and visit us at Sydney Opera House.

I hope to see you here soon.