The Sunshine Coast tourist attraction Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World has launched its upgraded buggy fleet with two custom-designed wheelchair accessible buggies.

The locally manufactured buggies, designed by E-Z-Go Australia in consultation with Spinal Life Australia, will improve accessibility and safety at the 23-acre site which is home to over 600 native and exotic birds, 8km of winding paths, terraced gardens and numerous waterfalls and lakes.

Grants between $25,000 and $500,000 are available to support small to medium size tourism and events businesses to improve their accessibility through infrastructure upgrades, vehicle and vessel modifications and adaptive technology and equipment in Queensland.

Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World owner Frank Shipp said the company has invested more than $1.5 million dollars to enhance accessibility for guests over the past two years. “It has been an extremely positive outcome to receive funding to support these initiatives in the Year of Accessible Tourism.”

Spinal Life Australia senior advisor for access and advocacy, Dan Cross said: “We applaud the efforts of tourism operators who have recognised the huge potential market represented by people with disability and are taking steps to make their tourism offerings more accessible. We encourage other tourism businesses to embrace improvements such as this in their operations.”

Photo: Verena Olesch (Maleny Botanic Gardens), Qld Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe, Joel Fernandes ( guest of Spinal Life ) and Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel.