Visiting WA for the first time was such an adventure! We created a lot of memories from experiences we will never forget. Along with the good also came a few bad moments too, but those moments were all excellent learning curves that I could take away and share with you all and hopefully use to be better prepared for future travelling. I look forward to sharing our WA adventure with you and the accessibility of the places we visited along our WA journey.
We visited several locations such as Perth, Albany, Bremer Bay and Rottnest Island during our WA adventure. There was a lot of travelling involved within the week, but the outcome was well worth it.
Our first destination in WA was Perth. A direct flight from Brisbane to Perth takes approximately 5 hours. Not knowing how I would go on a 5 hour long flight, we decided to stop halfway in Adelaide for a few hours before continuing to Perth. The layover gave me a chance to get out and go to the restroom as there’s not really an option for that while on the plane. The flights over to Perth went very smoothly and couldn’t have gone better. Qantas was fabulous on our flight over and looked after us along with my wheelchair very well as usual.
Unfortunately, on the same flights back home, our experience with Qantas in Adelaide was horrible. We had a number of issues with Qantas in Adelaide, from asking us off the plane to assist with putting my wheelchair in free wheel mode, to then tagging my wheelchair with the wrong flight number. It didn’t stop there! They then informed us just 5 minutes before boarding time, it was against workplace health and safety for Qantas to push my wheelchair up the ramp to load it back on the plane and requested one of us to do it. Thankfully Nicky was there to save the day and push my chair while mum got me on the plane. The thing that made this unusual was we had been in Adelaide just one week ago and didn’t have this problem.
To make it worst the airline hostess then said I wasn’t able to sit on my own Roho cushion on the plane. After flying with my cushion countless times, I knew this information was incorrect. After a few minutes of disagreeing with her she agreed to let the matter go. This experience in Adelaide was the worst experience I have ever had with Qantas and to be honest, I was extremely surprised by the lack of professionalism and poor service received. That day it certainly did not feel like I was flying with Qantas, rather a budget airline as the wheelchair service felt non-existent. As you might know, I am a huge fan of Qantas, so I was very disappointed by this experience, there was countless issues and unnecessary stress that could have been easily avoided.
There was a good selection of accessible accommodation within Perth, with most hotels offering accessible rooms. We stayed two nights in the heart of Perth city at the Adina Apartments Hotel Perth in an accessible room located across from the Perth Convention Centre. The accessible room is a one bedroom apartment and can accommodate up to 3 people, with a rollerway bed for the third person. The room offered an accessible bathroom with step free shower access and open plan living. The hotel is in a handy location and was easy walking distance to the areas we were visiting during our trip, However, the street lift that was located next to our hotel and gave access to the Convention Centre from the street was not working, so we had to use the main driveway to get down. Using the driveway was somewhat unsafe, but unfortunately, there was no other accessible entrance directly to the hotel without the lift.
The footpaths throughout Perth city were in most parts accessible for wheelchair users, some parts I found very bumpy as they used a lot of small pavers as their paths. All public areas throughout the city we visited were accessible via lift or ramp.
Perth has Maxi Taxi services available with lifts for those passengers who require a wheelchair service. However, the number of accessible Maxi Taxis servicing Perth are limited. Our wait time for an accessible taxi at Perth Airport was about an hour, and there was a similar wait time for a taxi at East Perth Coach Terminal. The standard wait time seemed to be about an hour unless booked in advance.
Perth offers accessible transport with Transperth. Public transport services include accessible buses, trains and ferries. We caught the ferry service over to Perth zoo from Elizabeth Quay to Mends Street Jetty which is fully wheelchair accessible. The access at Elizabeth Quay is via a ramp, however at Mends Street, there are many steps, so wheelchair users need to use a lift on and off the ferry which is operated by the ferry driver. The ferry driver we had when heading over to the zoo was very unwelcoming and extremely rude. Unfortunately, we had to find out the hard way about the lift because of his bad behaviour and attitude. We were prepared for the lift on the return ferry, and the ferry driver had a much better attitude. Apart from the treatment we received from the first driver the ferry ride would of otherwise been quite pleasant and easily accessible.
There is a long distance coach service available through TransWA which we used to travel to Albany from Perth and return. This was my first long distance coach trip, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but was up for the experience. Unfortunately, the experience once again from WA Transport was disappointing, so much so I have been discouraged from taking part in any long distance coach trips in the future. The TransWA coaches are wheelchair accessible, which is fabulous as the passenger can remain in their wheelchair during the journey. The coaches are equipped with a lift, and the wheelchair is strapped into place like in a taxi. There is only a small turn area for the wheelchair so I find it wouldn’t be suitable for large wheelchairs.
The drive took 6 hours from Perth to Albany, and this is where we had the issue. There is a toilet onboard the coach but this is not accessible to wheelchair passengers unless they can get out of their wheelchair and walk. With a few stops and toilet breaks along the way, I assumed wheelchair users could get off at one of these stops for a toilet break, how wrong I was!! I was not allowed to get off the coach at all, not even at the 30 minute stop over while everyone else got off for a break and to purchase food. The drivers didn’t even acknowledge us while they got off and had their break, and we were just left on the coach like we didn’t even exist. Denying a person toilet use for 6 hours is appalling. I was given the impression the drivers were not well experienced in strapping down the wheelchairs, so it took them longer then it should in my option, I am assuming this has a large part to play in not wanting the wheelchair user to exit the coach. TransWA I feel need to focus on staff training and do an urgent review on procedures if this is standard practice. Of course, this was my own experience but I highly encourage any wheelchair user to think twice before travelling on a long distance TransWA coach.
On the first day of exploring Perth, we visited the Perth zoo, which is just a quick ferry ride across the river to South Perth. The Perth Zoo is fully wheelchair accessible and welcomes guests of all abilities. During our visit, we were lucky enough to do the eye to eye rhino encounter. Wow, what an amazing experience we had meeting their beautiful white rhino. Read Full Review Here.
Albany is located right down the bottom of Western Australia and is about a 5 hour drive from Perth. We stayed in Albany for three nights as it was our main gateway to Bremer Bay. During our stay, our home was in an accessible downstairs apartment at the Albany Central Apartments (Read Full Apartment Review Here).
Albany is an old port city in the Great Southern region of WA and is full of interesting history from when Albany was first founded in 1826 to when the ANZAC troops left for war. Because our short stay in Albany was fairly booked up, we didn’t get a chance to explore much of Albany, so we mainly stayed close to the main city. We did get a chance to visit the Albany Museum and the Coal Museum, which was once the old prison. The Albany Museum is fully wheelchair accessible. The Coal Museum does have about a 10cm step once inside and a large step outside, for the large outside step I was able to detour back around to another entrance to see the remaining grounds. Accessible transport options in Albany are very limited, but they do thankfully offer a Wheelchair Maxi Taxi service through Albany City Cabs. Overall I found the access in the main city of Albany fairly accessible but transportation reasonably tricky.
It has always been a dream of mine to see wild Orcas! I always thought I had to go overseas to see Orcas. But when I found out Orcas actually visit waters of WA near a little town called Bremer Bay, I was super excited to think my dream to see these amazing creatures might actually be possible after all, Orca tours leave from Bremer Bay every January to April each year with a whale watching company called Naturaliste Charters. Orca watching with Naturalist Charters was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever done and is certainly a day I will never forget. The day Orca watching in Bremer Canyon was by far the highlight of our Western Australia adventure. Read Full Review Here
On the last day of our WA Adventure, we spend the day on Rottnest Island. We caught the ferry over to the island with Rottnest Express from Perth and did an accessible Discovery Rottnest island bus tour once on the island, Rottnest Island is such a beautiful island, full of sandy white beaches and blue oceans views, but it is also inhabited by the cutest of residents. Read full review here.
Our week long WA Adventure was a lot of fun, and I am so glad we got the chance to visit the other side of Australia and see how very different it is to Queensland, Parts of WA offered some great wheelchair access options, while other parts offered not so great access. The main disappointing area for me was transportation. While Perth city offered great accessible transport options, the service we received from staff was unfortunately lacking towards those with special needs. Even though our trip didn’t go as smooth as I would of hoped, I’m glad we visited beautiful Western Australia, but we certainly had to take the good with the bad during this trip.
In my opinion I give our WA Adventure a rating of 3 for wheelchair accessibility, and a rating of 4 stars for the overall experience.
* I was not financially compensated for this review. The review is based on my own opinion and personal experience.*