A wheelchair accessible guide for exploring arts, culture and food in Geelong

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A wheelchair accessible guide for exploring arts, culture and food in Geelong

Words by Alice McDonald and Photography by Daniel Ali

As someone with a lived experience of a physical disability, I’ve accumulated your best guide to mobility aid accessible spots in Geelong - cause I needed it too.

Geelong is a beautiful regional city and one that deserves to be explored by every single person, including those who require the use of mobility aids or wheelchairs to get around.

Thankfully, Geelong is home to many venues that prioritise and champion accessibility, and while this is not the case everywhere, there’s plenty of opportunity for wheelchair or mobility aid users to find somewhere to spend an enjoyable day or night out.

Here are some of our absolute favourites:

Indulge in Cafes, Restaurants and Bars 

Let’s start off the day with brunch. Pretty much the greatest meal of the day.

Pakington Pantry

Called in ahead to triple check and this bad boy is all 100% wheelchair accessible.

Located at 3/328 Pakington St, Newtown, Pakington is a Geelong hub for all things visually delectable and absolutely scrumptious. This is a must-go hub for all foodies and will get your arts filled aesthetic journey underway perfectly. With classic breakfast menu options with a stylish twist, you’ll find your plate to look almost too beautiful to eat.


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King of the Castle

Located on Pakington Street, King of the Castle cafe has long been elevating the brunch experience in Geelong with its refined and elegant interior, delicious made-to-order coffee, a stack of brunch and breakfast options and infectious enthusiasm for many years now.

With a loyal customer base, a stunning refurb-ing from the ground up and a killer vibe on a busy Saturday morning, King of the Castle offers step-free access at street level, and prides itself on actively welcoming people with access needs.

Suitable for guests who have challenges with learning, communication, understanding and behaviour; for guests who depend on the use of a wheelchair in a seated position at all times and suitable for guests with allergies and intolerances; King of the Castle is all about good times and good coffee.

Box Office Cafe

If you’re after a vibe and an aesthetic that stacks up against the edible beauty that is their dishes, then Box Office Cafe is what you need.

Most definitely the most exciting shipping container in Geelong, this cafe-slash-wine-bar has transformed a simple shipping container and an unconventional space into a colourful and airy destination, with upbeat staff, a love for dogs, walls of wine, a killer playlist and a kitchen that’s dishing out a whole host of café classics and international-themed dishes.

In terms of accessibility, this spot ticks all the boxes with ramp access on entry and around the venue, open space and various table options to make your dining experience absolutely perfect.

Blank Space

Located at 4/343 Pakington Street, Newtown, Blank Space Newtown has become a favourite of ours ever since opening their doors on Geelong’s centre of cosmopolitan lifestyle and multiculturalism, AKA Pakington Street.

Owners Josh and Katie Armstrong have created a funky NYC vibe Cafe, providing exceptional 131 Coffee, a season inclusive menu that caters for all, including cheeky $10 cocktails. With a ramp welcoming you right into the cafe, and a menu supporting local suppliers, and featuring many sweet, savoury, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options, it’ll be hard not to find multiple things that tickle your fancy.

1915 Geelong

Set in the former Federal Woollen Mills, one of the city’s most iconic and historic buildings, and beneath the historic North Geelong smokestack, is 1915, a whimsical restaurant laced with old-world charm. A grand, all-occasions bistro, 1915 is definitely one of Geelong’s most unique dining and drinking experiences, proving to be a powerful dose of history infused with a modern spirit.

With polished concrete, lofty ceilings, bright pendant lighting, exposed beams, and weathered red brick feature across the open-plan, this venue is another great one for anyone who requires wheelchair access (for the ground floor). There’s plenty of free parking space right at the entrance, large open spaces, a ramp-style entrance and ground-floor toilets, making this the idea destination for indulging in fine-dining finesse on the Northside of town.

Edge Geelong

With a gorgeous north-facing bar, New York loft styling and a trendy outside deck area; not only does Edge give patrons a world-class view of the beautiful Corio Bay, but from the moment you arrive, you feel like you’ve entered a relaxed paradise.

With a mix of dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner made with high-quality, organic and free-range produce from local suppliers, this venue is a great option with its brilliant accessibility. There’s a ramp from side door entry and clear space between fittings and displays, as well as an accessible toilet.

Add in the cosy ambience, drink. specials and cocktail menu, and Edge is the perfect destination for a night out.

Sailors Rest

Now this is a very special treat.

This is a melting pot of people, food and drinks. With multiple levels including a rooftop bar there are ramps upon request and elevators to get you up to the rooftop. Staff here are extremely welcoming and friendly, destined to ensure you have an amazing experience.

Perfect for a summer night and to top off a good day of art sightseeing.

The menu has Australian classics as well as middle eastern and Asian flavours perfect to order a few small plates and share.

Geelong Cellar Door

Looking for a night cap? The Geelong Cellar Door is the place for you. With a ramp-style entrance, booths with plenty of space and an outdoor lift platform to take you to the toilets, plus its ‘old world’ charm, look and feel, this is a must-visit cellar door-retail/wine bar space.

With plenty of wines to choose from, there is something for everyone from wine rookies to self-proclaimed wine connoisseurs. Whether its white, red, rose or sparkling that you fancy there is something to suit everyone.

In addition to their excellent wines and accessibility, Geelong Cellar Door makes sure its patrons never go hungry. Think cheeseboards and charcuterie boards, complete with mixed cheeses, meats, cornichons and quince paste, Geelong Cellar Door is set to satisfy all your after-work cravings.

Immerse yourself in Art and Culture  

Now that you’re well fed, let’s head on to the first arts and culture spot accessible to anyone.

Boom Gallery

Another beauty in Newtown, on 11 Rutland Street, Boom Gallery is a vibrant, contemporary and welcoming space based in a former woollen mill, suitable for guests who depend on the use of a wheelchair in a seated position at all times

With monthly exhibitions from emerging and established artists, designers and makers, a design gallery including handmade ceramics and jewellery and publicly accessible stockroom and cafe onsite, this is the best spot to admire the artistic richness of Geelong and the surrounding areas.

The in house cafe Brother Lawrence is a premier sourdough bagel bar, which offers a range of artisan sourdough products alongside incredible coffee and an exciting lunch menu. Arts, bagels and accessibility, this is the ideal destination.

Take a look at the gallery website here to get a little taste.

Geelong Gallery

One of Australia’s leading and oldest regional art galleries, the Geelong Gallery pride themselves on their ability to adapt to all access needs.

The Geelong Gallery foyer is entirely accessible  with ramp access to the main galleries located on the right side of the foyer, next to the Geelong Gallery Store. Lift Access to the Decorative arts gallery and bathrooms is via the lift, found in the Hitchcock Gallery, to the right of the staircase. Wheelchairs are available at no charge from reception.

Geelong Gallery are more than happy to provide specialised guided tours as well as specific access events and programmes to all. They’re also the winner of the 2021 Geelong Business Excellence Awards for the best Inclusive and Accessible Business!

And the art is pretty darn good too.


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Platform Arts

Anyone with any interest in the arts will have an amazing time here. Platform Arts is all about championing a new generation of thinkers, makers, risk-takers and agitators with a huge program of events, exhibitions, performances, mentorships, residencies and workshops.

With plenty of things on, Platform Arts pride themselves on their accessibility in both the main building as well as the café Courthouse Cafe – time for a caffeine refill? That’s right, the whole venue is fully wheelchair accessible, with two disabled parking spaces just outside the entrance on Gheringhap Street and a wheelchair accessible bathroom and lift.

Inspiring in every single way, Platform Arts is a must!

Geelong Arts Centre

For the past few decades, Geelong Arts Centre has offered a unique mix of theatre shows and events that educate, enlighten and bring together like-minded people. With art and community, growth in activity, innovation, outstanding spaces and people at its heart, the new and improved Geelong Arts Centre has been injecting a renewed sense of artistic energy and excitement into the region – and the best part is it’s entirely wheelchair accessible!

Throughout the building, Geelong Arts Centre features courtesy wheelchair accessible parking, entrances, seating and toilets. Wheelchair access is available in all of the theatres, including Costa Hall – Deakin University, Drama Theatre and The Playhouse.

Whether you love theatre, music, musicals or comedy, you’ll find something here to love and enjoy.

Geelong Library

The Geelong Library and Heritage Centre is a regional library, archive and resource facility in the city of Geelong, and is a great place to go to immerse yourself with excitement and wonder beyond just reading and borrowing books. Whether you’re just going to foster a love of reader, take part is classes and programs, or you just need some down time, the Geelong library has been carefully designed to increase accessibility for the local community in numerous ways.

Access to the building is available through large double doors at the main street entrance and a new ramp and pathways have been constructed at the park-side entrance to allow for access for all abilities from Johnstone Park. The building is serviced by two large elevators, with the right-hand lift been designed as a specific accessible lift, with enough space for both you and a service animal or a support person that may be with you. The corridors are wide and the rooms are spacious with plenty of room for access and movement throughout.

The height of the Cruiser tables (large touch screen tables) at the Geelong Library & Heritage Centre makes them accessible for people in wheelchairs and allows collaborators to work around a shared surface and discover information intuitively. The TAPits are touch screen computers designed to recognise the difference between intentional instructions and unintentional touch. The TAPit platform is within reach for people in wheelchairs or with other mobility devices and it is easily adjusted to people’s individual requirements.

Alongside accessibility for those in wheelchairs, other accessibility features include Magnification technology for people with visual impairments; a Braille embosser; iPads with various inbuilt accessibility features; Zoomtext screen reader software; digital talking book formats; and books with tinted pages; among many others. Ambulant toilets and baby change facilities are also available on every level.

Outdoor Attractions 

Geelong Botanic Gardens

Pack a picnic lunch and stimulate the senses with the colours and scents of the amazing plant collection as you explore this renowned regional garden. Whether you’re by yourself or with a group, this is the ideal local to relax on the lawns in peaceful surroundings as you experience one of Geelong’s best kept secrets.

If you’re arriving by car, there is a disabled car park at the entrance to the gardens on Eastern Park Circuit near the Podbury Drive intersection. There is a ramp to access the main entrance gate.

The gardens are free to come and enjoy, and people in wheelchairs or with prams can access some parts of the gardens. Some paths are asphalt and relatively easy grades. Other paths are sadly not as accessible as they have steps, and some paths are gravel which you may need assistance with.

Surfing with The Disabled Surfers Association of Australia

Feel like hitting the surf? The Disabled Surfers Association on the Bellarine has more than 35 years of experience in the waves ensuring those of all ages and abilities can learn to surf. Each year, their Ocean Grove event is a highlight of every member’s calendar.

The Disabled Surfers Association prioritises safety as their number one goal, each surfer will have up to 25 volunteers around them supporting them in and out of the water and Ocean Grove usually can expect up to a whopping 250 volunteers for the spectacular event.

As each disability is unique to the individual, these events offer multiple points of accessibility to ensure everyone has access to the beach and most importantly – the waves.

Adventure Park

Slip-on your bathers, pack your hats and soak up the sun at Geelong’s Adventure Park. This one is technically located in Wallington, but as far as accessible outdoor activities go, this water wonderland is a pearler.

With more than 24 epic rides and attractions waiting to be explored, all pathways throughout Adventure Park are wheelchair accessible. Many areas in the water park are accessible by wheelchair, including the Tiny Tots splashzone, Bonito’s Bay water playground and our Jumping Jets zones. It is recommended that a water friendly wheelchair is used in these areas to prevent any possibilities of damage or rust that may occur.

Access with use of the upper body is also permitted on rides like Little Buggy Speedway, Grand Carousel, Red Baron, Shipwreck Harbour and Wave Swinger, while the Ferris Wheel is fully wheelchair accessible, featuring two gondolas that are able to comfortably fit a wheelchair, with an accompanying carer.

Disability parking is available and conveniently located near our ticket gates, the Family, VIP and Treetop Cabanas are wheelchair accessible and to top it all off Adventure Park offers FREE wheelchair hire if you don’t have one of your own.

Eastern Beach

The beautiful Eastern Beach Reserve is located on the City’s waterfront, and is scattered with the renowned  brightly coloured Bay Walk Bollards. The scenic reserve features picnic facilities, playgrounds and a shark-proof sea bath surrounded by the historical art-deco-style boardwalk.

The picturesque reserve is also an accessible beach, with a beach pathway that provides easier access across the soft sand to help people who experience mobility challenges and parents with prams to get closer to the water. There’s also rubber beach matting to provide a safe pathway from Eastern Beach car park and footpath to the water’s edge at the outdoor swimming enclosure.

A beach wheelchair available for use at the Geelong Waterfront, free of charge to people with limited mobility. The wheelchair is available all year round and can be booked through the Eastern Beach Life Guard rooms. The chair has large tyres suitable for all terrain access and floating armrests to give users the feeling of floating in the water.

Indoor entertainment

Westfield Geelong

If you’re keen to indulge in some retail therapy, Westfield Geelong has several services and amenities to allow customers to navigate around the centre with ease while stocking up on donuts from FlourBoy, new threads from Edge Clothing or new products from MECCA.

For mobility-impaired customers, the centre actually offers complimentary wheelchairs and power shoppers. These are usually in high demand, and are therefore subject to availability.

You will also find disabled parking near all centre entrances with free parking for the first four hours for customers that hold a disability permit. All you need to do is register your disability permit at the concierge desk to receive the complimentary validation each time you shop. Once registered, simply take your parking ticket to the concierge desk during your four hour stay, and they will validate your ticket.

There’s also wheelchair accessible toilets at all restrooms and an elevator to help you get from A to B.


Classing this as entertainment might be a stretch, but we know a lot of people love to hit up gyms – no matter who they are. Plus, it pumps up your endorphins and there’s a lot of love about that.

What’s even more to love is that Leisurelink in Geelong offers facilities that are designed to give people with a disability or mobility-related issues greater access to aquatic, fitness and recreation facilities.

These include easy wheelchair access/egress; multi-use warm water pool with ramp access; five aqua wheelchairs for easy transfer into pools; 25 metre pool with ramp access; accessible change rooms with height adjustable table and hoist for adults (in change room area and beside the warm water pool); wheelchair accessible gym; accessible gym equipment, such as Upperbody Krank Cycle and Water Grinder
lowered treadmills; 12 disabled parking spaces located out the front of the centre; plus 5 minute drop off/Maxi Taxi point located out the front of the centre accessible cafe.

Piano Bar Geelong

Let’s finish off this art filled day with a classic music venue spot. Piano Bar Geelong is all 100% wheelchair accessible as well as all other locations.

This is also one of the very few spots that, when called ahead, will make the lighting epilepsy friendly for you. Legends.

If you don’t already know, Piano Bar has a fun and inviting energy and might entice you with the weekly Sunday party ‘Pitch Please!’, with piano by request and drag shows by two fabulous drag queens all night long. Sunday night fun? Can’t go wrong.


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Recharge your batteries

Novotel Geelong

After a big day exploring Geelong in all its accessible glory, if you need somewhere to rest your eyes there’s no better place than Geelong’s Novotel. As one of the city’s finest luxury hotels, expect to wake up to breathtaking views of the Geelong waterfront, the bustling foreshore and Cunningham Pier.

Here you’ll find Accessible Queen Rooms and Twin Rooms on offer, featuring beds, accessible bathroom, working desk, smart TV and iPod docking station. All Accessible Queen Rooms and Twin Rooms are located on either side of the hotel with close access to lifts. Maximum 2 people.

Geelong is full of accessible options and these are only just the beginnings to the adventures to be had. To find more about accessibility have a look here at Arts Access Victoria here.

This article was made in partnership with Visit Geelong & Bellarine.