Community & Business

12 April, 2024

‘Roll a mile in their shoes’

MOVES are afoot to make the Tablelands the most inclusive tourist destinations in Australia, starting with improvements to the Lake Tinaroo foreshore.

By Ellie Fink

Lake Tinaroo Holiday Park park manager Joshua McLean at the disabled toilet block on the foreshore, which people with mobility issues cannot access.
Lake Tinaroo Holiday Park park manager Joshua McLean at the disabled toilet block on the foreshore, which people with mobility issues cannot access.

In a recent presentation to Tablelands Regional Council, the inadequacy of access to public amenities and the failure to connect pathways around the lake foreshore were brought to the council’s attention as part of a broader discussion about how the region could improve facilities to cater for everyone.

The council heard from ECHO Empowering Service community development officer Belinda Moore, Disability Matters representative Melitta Lewis and Tinaroo Holiday Park director Lachlan Farquharson who referred to a report compiled by Spinal Life Australia which is expected to reveal other places within the local government area that also need attention.

The Access Affordability Ability (AAA) report has been developed using information sourced by a person using a wheelchair who travelled to different destinations across the Tablelands to experience if they were accessible. 

The report found areas such as the Tinaroo foreshore had facilities designed for people with disabilities yet were not actually accessible. While there are long pathways throughout the foreshore, many are disconnected by only a few metres of bitumen or concrete, making it hard for wheelchair users, elderly people and pram users to access. 

The disabled toilet across the road from the Tinaroo Holiday Park does not have a pathway leading to it, meaning people with physical needs need to walk up or down a steep hill to get to the bathroom. 

“The report is a result of intensive mapping done by someone with lived experiences across the Tablelands, and it contains numerous recommendations, and some are simple while others are more long-term goals,” Ms Moore said.

“If we can just start with one area and make the smallest changes and support the concept of an accessible tourism precinct at the Lake Tinaroo foreshore, it will truly benefit locals, their families and friends and tourists, especially those living with disability and our increasing number of seniors. 

“In turn, that will help our local economy and help our local businesses who have invested a lot of money to create a more accessible tourist destination.

“We hope that TRC, in the budget that is being worked on at the moment, will scope this as a priority and show a tangible commitment to accessibility.”

Mr Farquharson, who recently launched new facilities at his holiday park to cater for people with mobility issues, showed councillors how footpaths on the foreshore were disconnected from one another – some by just a metre of concrete - and believed that, if fixed, Lake Tinaroo would become a friendlier hotspot for tourists and locals. 

“More than 50% of people over the age of 55 have some sort of disability, whether they identify with it or not,” he said.

“Obviously, people over 55 are great tourists to get to the region and there is a quite a large number of those people living in the area so if we can give them better access, they will be able to enjoy life more.

“What we try to do is put ourselves in other people’s position, and it is all good and well to think it’s just a simple walk but if I’m in a wheelchair, how am I going to get from my car that is parked – I can see this beautiful walkway and beautiful vision but I can’t get there.

“It’s just not fair and it won’t take us much (work) to get it there.”

Mr Farquharson also pointed out issues with people being able to access the toilet block at the foreshore.

“If you were busting to go to the toilet, you can see the toilet, but you can’t get there – imagine how that feels. It ruins a good day and you probably have to go home.

“It seems a little bit of a misstep there that we have got these facilities but the people they are built for can’t access them.”

He said he wasn’t asking council to spend a lot of money but “let’s just start doing what we can”.

Former councillor and chair of the Inclusion Committee, Peter Hodge, moved that council provide a detailed costing of works to make the pathways inclusive at the foreshore to be provided for the new council to consider in the upcoming budget. 

Cr Kevin Cardew was impressed by the presentation, commenting that council should place more emphasis on making the Tinaroo foreshore more “presentable as a tourist attraction”.

“We have all these strategies in place for tourism and cycling and all the rest of it but this sort of fell under the radar.

“We are focusing on Priors Creek and Millaa Millaa Falls, but why aren’t we focusing on Tinaroo? This will definitely be something for the next council to consider.”

It is expected that when the AAA report becomes available, it will be presented to council.


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