The Yarra River is the perfect place to play. Splash around at fun and accessible water activities. Dive into the arts. Or feast at one of the eateries and bars along the river. It’s one of the best ways to experience Melbourne and so much of it is accessible to people with disabilities too. 

Princes Bridge and Yarra Promenade 

First port of call is Princes Bridge. Getting there is easy via Flinders Street Station or accessible platform super stops on St Kilda Road. This grand old structure offers spectacular views of the Yarra and its wide flat path is easy to navigate. To really marvel at this bluestone beauty head down to the river either via lift or stairs with railing from Federation Square or the Arts Centre forecourt. There is also a set of stairs near Flinders Street Station. A ramped path near the gardens leads you there too.  

Going under the bridge, head to Southbank Promenade. Wandering along this lively area, you’ll see many eateries, bars, and boats. Seating is dotted along the easy-to-traverse pathway. And an accessible public toilet is in the Southgate shopping centre food court. Evan Walker Bridge leads you to the other side of the river where you’ll find even more bars and eateries. This pedestrian bridge is wide and is worth stopping on to take in even more stunning views.  

Two people sitting on a bench beside a city river on a sunny day.
Princes Bridge

Waterbikes Australia  

Want a unique way to explore the Yarra River? Taking in Melbourne’s landmarks and iconic buildings, a Waterbikes Australia tour may be the perfect way to do it!  

These inclusive adventures are for people of all ages and abilities. The waterbikes are low-impact and easy to operate. And with the crew from Waterbikes Australia creating a safe and supportive environment, you’ll take to it like a duck to water. Customised experiences for people with disabilities can be designed. For some participants, a tandem bike is the way to go. A support person sits at the front and steers. You'll both need to pedal though.

The tour starts near the rowing sheds next to Princes Bridge. You can get there via a ramped path or stairs from St Kilda Road. There are also accessible parking spots along Boathouse Drive. A toilet block with an accessible toilet is near the car park.  

GoBoat Australia 

Row, row, row your boat… Be the captain of your own aquatic adventure with an electric picnic boat. With GoBoat Australia you can rent a boat, pack a picnic and tour the Yarra, all without a boat licence. 

The boats are eco-friendly and easy to use. Shade is available and safety equipment is provided. Wheelchair users can be accommodated with the removal of the table in the centre of the boat. They can then be assisted by experienced staff to get on board.  

Set sail from Southbank, close to the Evan Walker Bridge. The jetty is wide and flat but parts of it have no railing. You can get there by train from Flinders Street Station or park at Southgate shopping centre. There are accessible platform super stops on nearby Queens Bridge Street too. The closest toilets including an accessible one are across the river at Southgate. 

Three people sitting at the back of a small boat taking a selfie, while travelling down a city river.
GoBoat

NGV International 

Approaching NGV International, it’s hard not to touch its iconic water wall entrance. Housing contemporary and classic collections, this is Melbourne’s premier art destination. The large, level gallery spaces are a breeze to get around for people with disabilities. The garden on the ground level is easy to navigate too. 

There’s lift access to each floor, with ramps and escalators throughout the building. And wayfinding signage that includes Braille and raised letters. Accessible toilets are on three levels. Book ahead to use the free wheelchairs or mobility scooter. Companion card holders get the concession rate, plus a complimentary ticket. Carer card holders also enjoy concession prices.  

There are various experiences and resources for people with sensory disabilities. These include relaxed sessions, social stories, sensory maps, and art-making resources. Audio-described or Auslan-interpreted tours are also available. Service animals are welcome too. 

Accessible platform super stops are directly outside on St Kilda Road. Paid accessible parking is available at the Arts Centre and Australian Ballet Centre Car Park. 

NGV Australia 

Discover more than two centuries of homegrown art at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Like NGV International, this building is readily accessible and complimentary wheelchairs are available. There’s the same helpful NGV pricing policy and more experiences and resources for visitors with sensory disabilities. The welcome mat’s out for assistance animals too. 

For those with limited mobility, access is via the entrance on the Russell Street Extension or via the Fed Square atrium off Flinders Street. Paid accessible parking is available at Fed Square. And it’s easy to get to with public transport too, with Flinders Street Station and accessible platform super stops nearby.   

A gallery space with red walls covered in paintings and statues throughout. A person is moving through the room using a wheelchair.
NGV International

The Deck Restaurant 

Get on board The Deck, with its modern European cuisine and dazzling views of the river and city. Try the charcuterie for a starter and the steak with pepper sauce for a main. And leave room for tiramisu for dessert. Whether it’s pre- or post-theatre dining, lunch or dinner, it caters for all.  

Arrive via lift in the Southgate shopping centre. Brasserie-style decor creates a sophisticated atmosphere. There are stools at the bar and tables are a good height for wheelchairs. Try and get a spot on the large terrace outside to make the most of the views. Take the lift to an accessible toilet one floor below. Accessible parking spots in the Southgate car park and accessible platform super stops are nearby on St Kilda Road. 

Riverland Bar 

Tucked away on the banks of the Yarra lies Melbourne’s urban beer garden. Situated in the historic Federation Wharf vaults just below Fed Square, Riverland Bar is worth discovering. The classic and signature cocktails are perfect for after-work drinks. Delicious sharing plates include leek arancini and lamb skewers. For lunch or dinner, the range of burgers is the go-to, and the pizzas are perfect too.  

A glass lift from Fed Square takes you there. There are shady spots in summer and outdoor heaters keep you warm in winter. And a grassy undercover area has ramp access. There’s a mix of seating and an accessible toilet is located in the beautiful bluestone vault. Getting there is easy. It's close to Flinders Street Station and accessible platform stops are nearby on St Kilda Road. 

A group dining beside the river at an outdoor bar with orange umbrellas. Two are sitting in wheelchairs.
Riverland Bar

Waterslide Bar 

Inspired by Melbourne's love affair with the Yarra River, Waterslide Bar is a luxurious bar in the heart of the Southbank precinct. Upon entering via lift from Southgate, you’ll see the circular bar with its lit-up pyramid of bottles. Velvet lounges, stools, cosy booths and chairs offer a range of seating. There are window seats too. Big wide doors open to the terrace, which offers spectacular views of the river and city.  

Shared plates like lamb ribs, cheeseburger wontons, veggie sliders and pizzas make it the perfect spot for a pre-theatre snack. But it’s the cocktails that are its signature. The ‘sucker punch’ does just that to your tastebuds with whiskey and cinnamon-infused Campari. And you can’t go past the ‘antidote’ made up of gin, ginseng and pepperberry. 

Easy to move around in, there’s an accessible toilet right outside in the Southgate shopping centre. There are accessible parking spots in the Southgate car park. Accessible platform super stops are nearby on St Kilda Road.  

An outdoor restaurant table beside the river, set with three dishes and a cocktail.
Waterslide Bar

Plan your visit 

Plan your visit to Melbourne with the Changing Places map. It outlines locations, opening hours, and other details. You can find more information on accessibility on the Accessing Melbourne webpage

Information correct at time of writing – always check ahead with the venue to make sure they can accommodate your individual access needs.

Written and researched by an Access Consultant Cert. IV, with lived experience of disability.

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Last updated on Tue 3 Oct 2023

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