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A completed 'lead-in' path at Surf Beach. Picture: Supplied / Eurobodalla Shire Council

South coast beaches have improved accessibility

Seven of NSW’s south coast beaches now have ‘mobility mats’ and floating wheelchairs to support people with reduced mobility who want to visit the ocean.

The mats form a path that can be rolled out towards the water, allowing for wheelchairs, scooters, strollers, trolleys or public-use floating wheelchairs to travel onto the sand.

The material filters any sand through to the bottom and creates a flat surface for mobility chairs to move along or for those with reduced mobility to walk more easily on the sand. 

The mats will be rolled out by lifeguards during the peak summer season and packed up ahead of storms or large seas to avoid any damage.

A new floating wheelchair at Narooma Surf Life Saving Club is free to use by the public. Picture: Supplied / Eurobodalla Shire Council

Minister for Regional NSW Tara Moriarty said the biodegradable mats and other upgrades will allow locals and visitors to enjoy the South Coast’s pristine beaches. 

“Not only do these upgrades benefit locals, but it will also be a huge draw card for visitors from Sydney, Canberra, regional NSW, and interstate during busy summer months,” the minister said.

Mobility mat locations on NSW's south coast. Picture: Supplied / Eurobodalla Shire Council

“These wheelchair-accessible mobility mats will assist those living with disabilities or limited mobility experience sand and surf, which at times proves difficult given the terrain of our beaches.”

Seven patrolled beaches either have or will receive the mats, including Surf Beach, Mulua Bay Beach, South Broulee Beach, Moruya South Head Beach, Tuross Head Main Beach, Dalmeny Beach and Narooma Surf Beach.

Paths that lead from the carpark to the beach have also been installed, along with new line marking and signage for wheelchair-accessible parking spots. The access ramp at Narooma South Bar Beach has also been extended. 

A mobility mat on the sand. Picture: Supplied / Eurobodalla Shire Council

The Eurobodalla Shire Council will complete their year-long NSW government-funded $495,000 project in partnership with Accessible Beaches Australia to install the mats and other accessibility items this month. 

Accessible Beaches also say access to shade and fresh water, ease of public transport access, and nearby food outlets make beaches more accessible to everyone. 

The council said they understand some of the seven beach location’s carparks and toilets are not accessible to those with a physical disability, and due to land mass formations, some access points don’t comply with Australian standards for wheelchair ramp gradients.

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