Clarence City Council is the latest Tasmanian municipality to work towards improving beach access for everyone.
Between December and the end of January 2024 it’s undertaking a trial of beach matting at Bellerive Beach.
The FAQs on is Summer Beach Access Mat trial, found here, state that while the ‘trial site is not perfect’ and may still be ‘inaccessible or difficult for some people to use’, its permanent promenade work is some years off and so believes ‘people prefer it implements improvements to inclusive beach access now rather than wait for the perfect solution in the future.’
The Council hopes the mat will ‘allow wheeled mobility aids (such as wheelchairs and prams) and people who have difficulty walking to reach the firmer sand near the water’s edge.’
It acknowledges that ‘due to the movement of tides and sand at the beach, it is not always guaranteed that the mat will provide access to the hard sand. Beach access mats are installed in locations and of a length that provides access to the hard sand most of the time whilst minimizing the potential impacts of wave and tidal movements on the mat.’
ParaQuad Tasmania congratulates the Council for getting on with the job of improving inclusion.
You can have your say about the Bellerive Beach mat in the Council’s survey here.
Kingborough Council recently launched its own beach matting at popular Kingston Beach (see below).
Kingborough has partnered with the local Lifesaving Club, whose volunteers will roll the mats out on weekends and public holidays during the summer period, between 12 noon and 4.30pm.
Like other Councils, the move took a number of years of lobbying by people with disability, working on the Disability Inclusion and Access Advisory Committee – including former Committee member Richard Witbreuk.
“It’s good to see it finally come to fruition, to see better access for all, on one of the most popular beaches in the area,” Richard said.
Richard, who is ParaQuad Tasmania’s Accessible Tourism Officer, said he hoped it was just the first of many beaches in the municipality to offer accessible matting.
“It’s important to note that whilst beneficial for the entire community, it has advantages for the accessible tourism market”
In Tasmania’s North, Georgetown Council unveiled a raft of accessible infrastructure at East Beach last summer. This includes a ramp leading to the beach and picnic areas designed specifically with wheelchair users in mind.
Sorell Council, in the state’s South East, was the first the first Tasmanian Council to show its commitment to accessibility for all, with permanent beach ramps at Carlton and Park Beach. Sorell consulted with ParaQuad Tasmania before designing and installing the ramps.
ParaQuad Tasmania welcomes the moves taken by each Council, which make tangible improvements to accessibility, and hopes there are many more examples to come.
Why not lobby your local council to improve beach access in your municipality?