Accessible Tours & Activities In Cairns - Travelers With Mobility Issues

Julie Jones on June 20th, 2018

Travelling with some moderate mobility restrictions, or a wheelchair, is not always a barrier to enjoying the many attractions in Cairns and surrounding areas.

You’ll have the opportunity to be immersed in rainforests, escape to islands, get up close to Australia’s wildlife and swim in the tropical waters on the Great Barrier Reef.

Here’s our list of suggested accessible experiences for you to enjoy.

Kuranda Tour - Skyrail Rainforest Cableway & Kuranda Scenic Train

If you are in a wheelchair and wish to book a Kuranda tour we do have transfer services available for your Half or Full Day Skyrail & Train experience. 

If you would like to include a more comprehensive day, you will need to pre-arrange for a wheel chair taxi to come and collect you from your accommodation and take you to the departure point. 

Guests can choose to travel first on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway up over the mountains to the Kuranda Village.  This option departs from Smithfield, 20 minutes north of Cairns City. 

Alternatively travel first on the Kuranda Scenic Rail departing either Cairns or Freshwater Station (both of which are ramped). Make sure to let your booking consultant know of your mobility limitations so they can then advise the tour operators to be available to assist you if needed. 

They will direct you to the appropriate cable car or Rail carriage for wheelchairs. All these details can be placed in the notes section on the booking forms on this website or you can call our team 7 days a week to discuss your Great Barrier Reef holiday plans.  

Riding high in the Skyrail gondola will allow you time to enjoy views out over the reef and appreciate the World Heritage rainforest below.

You can break up the 7.5 km long ride by stopping at the two stations along the way.

At Red Peak Station take a walk along the wheelchair accessible boardwalk through the rainforest or join one of the free ranger-led talks.

A stop at Barron Falls Station will let you enjoy the wonder of Barron Falls and explore the CSIRO Rainforest Interpretative Centre. The hands-on educational centre is popular with young and old because of its informative displays about the rainforest and its wildlife.

Stand-alone accessible bathrooms are available at both stations.

Your final stop is at Kuranda Village where you’ll find a range of cafes, markets, and activities.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Due to the door width of the gondolas, wheelchairs must not exceed 630mm in width, not exceed 950mm in length and be capable of being tilted backwards to enable loading.

Kuranda Train

If your wheelchair doesn’t meet these requirements don’t worry, you can still enjoy a scenic train ride to Kuranda Village.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway train has a wheelchair accessible carriage and accessible bathroom available onboard.

This is a slower paced way of reaching Kuranda but no less spectacular.

The journey immerses you in the rainforest with stops along the way to appreciate the views of waterfalls and famous Barron Gorge.

Cairns, Freshwater and Kuranda stations are all wheelchair accessible.

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is located in the Kuranda Village and home to 1500 tropical butterflies.

Wheelchair accessible paths will make it easy for you to make your way around the sanctuary to see the abundance of colourful butterflies.

Have your camera ready for that David Attenborough shot, and don’t be surprised if they should land on you.

Dress in red, white or pink if you’d like to increase the chances of the brightly coloured butterflies interacting with you.

If you’d like to learn more about these precious insects, join one of the free tours which are filled with butterfly facts.

Birdworld Kuranda

Almost 60 species of bird call Birdworld’s naturally landscaped aviary home.

It’s hard to know who’s watching who here with birds peering at you from every corner.

Many are happy to be hand fed (bird feed can be purchased on entry).  

Though ramped throughout, the steepness of some areas may be more suitable to power wheelchairs or if you are travelling with family or a carer you may require assistance.

A variety of birds sit expectantly on the top platform which has easy access.

Cairns Esplanade Swimming Lagoon

It’s easy to see why swimming in the salt water lagoon on the Cairns Esplanade is popular with locals and visitors alike.

The lifeguard patrolled lagoon is open all year round day and night so it’s the perfect place to spend a day, cool off and have an Aussie BBQ.

The boardwalks allow easy wheelchair access to the water and accessible change rooms and shower facilities are available for disabled persons.

The varying depths of water make it safe for young children and less confident swimmers.

Muddy's Playground

If you’re travelling with a child who is a wheelchair user, follow the level pathway from the Lagoon to Muddy’s Playground.

The play area has a range of play equipment including a Liberty Swing (a wheelchair accessible swing - accessed with a MLAK key) and a popular splash park.

If playing and swimming works up an appetite you can grab something from the café onsite or bring food for a barbecue under the magnificent Banyan trees that line the esplanade.

Port Douglas - Wildlife Habitat

This is a self-drive attraction in Port Douglas where you can interact with the indigenous tropical wildlife in some really cool animal habitats.

Feeding a cassowary, cuddling a koala and having lunch with lorikeets are just a few of the things you can do at the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas.

Elevated accessible boardwalks and pathways will take you through four North Queensland climates and natural habitats, showcasing its wildlife along the way.

Join one of the free guided tours, watch a presentation, enjoy breakfast with the birds, or lunch with the lorikeets.

You’ll learn about pythons, koalas and crocodiles to name a few.

Tjapukai - Cairns Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Another self-drive local attraction just north of Cairns, experience the culture of the Djabugay people. 

There is ample parking at the centre and the entry is fully ramped.

There are accessible bathrooms on site and the park is pathed throughout allowing you to access the full range of events and displays including the Creation Story, History, Dance & Art and Boomerang and Bush Tucker presentations.

Try your hand at throwing the boomerang or the spear!  Or perhaps include the Cultural Creations in your day and create your own souvenirs of the day. 

If the cultural centre by day doesn’t fit your schedule, you can choose to enjoy the night tour for a unique dining and cultural experience.

The Australian Armour & Artillery Museum

If you have an interest in the military, then this is a must-see attraction in Smithfield just north of Cairns.

The indoor museum is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere containing 133 armoured and artillery pieces.

Allow a minimum of an hour to view the displays and more if you are a military enthusiast.

Children will enjoy dressing up in helmets and vests and playing with toy figures on a military field table top.

A highlight will be a ride outside in the Armoured Personnel Carrier (additional fee applies and weather dependent).

The museum has a ramp to the entrance, accessible parking and accessible bathroom facilities.

If you have a large mobility scooter we can pre-arrange access through a side vehicle access door.

Palm Cove & Port Douglas Beach Wheelchair

Visiting a tropical region like Cairns would not be complete without time exploring one of the many beautiful beaches.

To make accessing the beach easier why not try a beach wheelchair?

Ordinary wheelchair tyres dig into the sand making it impossible to push.

A beach wheelchair is equipped with balloon tyres which assist to move over the sand more easily. 

A beach wheelchair can be pre-booked from the Palm Cove Life Saving Club on Williams Esplanade during patrol hours on (07) 4059 1244 or Surf Life Saving Australia on (07) 4040 1200 .

You will need to sign a waiver then you are free to explore the beach at your leisure.

For Port Douglas Four Mile Beach contact Macrossan House on (07) 4099 4366 who are located on the main street.

If you would like more information on any of the above attractions, don't hesitate to give us a call on 1300 231 118.

Julie Jones

Julie Jones

Julie Jones is the creator of Have Wheelchair Will Travel (www.havewheelchairwilltravel.net), where she combines her skills as an ex-travel consultant with her life and experiences as a mother to her daughter AJ and son BJ, who has cerebral palsy.

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