Making the Whitsundays accessible for all families

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort has accessible accommodation and special facilities for people who are deaf, blind or have low vision.

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, located in Airlie Beach, is one of the accessibility champions from the Austrade-led Accessible Tourism Mentoring Pilot Project. It continues to make it easier for every family to enjoy a holiday.

Guests can choose from a range of self-contained cabins and powered camp sites. Then, there are over 15 onsite attractions. These range from waterslides and a massage pavilion to an outdoor cinema and a cafe.

What is setting this tourism business apart from many competitors, though, is its focus on accessibility. The resort offers accessible accommodation, a dedicated sensory room, and special facilities for those who are deaf, blind or have low vision.

It may not surprise then, that BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort was a big winner at the Queensland Tourism Awards in 2023. It took gold in both the Excellence in Accessible Tourism, and Caravan and Holiday Parks categories. 

The business has worked hard to put systems in place to understand, develop and accommodate visitor needs. The resort is regarded as a safe, comfortable and accessible holiday destination for all.

Ensuring every child has a good time

The resort’s range of activities for children include a waterpark, animal park and mini golf.

Children on the autism spectrum and their families can make use of a specialised sensory room, the Reilly Room. The Reilly Room’s toybox is full of tactile and kinetic toys that are fun, soothing and educational. There are hammocks and weighted blankets for calming downtime. The adjusted lamp lights are also settling for those sensitive to bright lights.

Families can download a so-called “social script” before they arrive. This information helps parents prepare their children for what to expect from the holiday.

‘Feedback from families has been excellent,’ says Marketing Manager Tanya Cran. ’Families who could never holiday before are so grateful they can actually enjoy a special holiday retreat with us because of our facilities, which is fantastic.’

A cabin for people who are blind or with low vision

The resort has 5 fully accessible cabins, all with ramps, wider doorways and lower-level kitchen benches and appliances. One has been designed for travellers with blindness or low vision. Contrasting colours, which better distinguish objects from each other, and braille signage feature throughout the cabin and the resort.

Guests can also collect a visual aids box. These come with magnifying sheets to help holidaymakers better read small print. Liquid level detectors ensure cups aren’t accidentally filled to overflowing. The resort also provides “food packs” for assistance animals. 

A room with two armchairs, a kid-sized table and two chairs, and shelves of books on the left.

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort has a sensory room with tactile and kinetic toys for children on the autism spectrum.

Even bigger plans for accessibility

By employing people with disability, the resort has gained insights and understanding of the important accessible-traveller demographic. BIG 4 Adventure has more plans to enhance its facilities in 2024. These include a new “Kids Club” and specialised accessibility supports such as hearing loops – small sound transmitters for the hard-of-hearing – and portable ramps for those with mobility issues.

‘There are many small, low-cost improvements that can help,’ says Cran. ‘Even just moving furniture to one side or installing detachable shower heads can make a difference.’

A customer focus is rewarding

The resort’s efforts to accommodate the needs of all travellers have been recognised by the industry at all levels. Big4 Adventure Whitsunday has won over 40 local, state and national tourism awards.

Learn more

Improving the accessibility of tourism destinations and experiences is a priority of THRIVE 2030, Australia’s visitor economy strategy. 

Under THRIVE 2030, the Austrade-led Accessible Tourism Mentoring Pilot Project supported 110 tourism operators around Australia to improve accessibility and inclusion. BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort was one of the accessible tourism champions for the project.

The project led to the WELCOME Framework, our guide to help tourism businesses become more accessible and inclusive. Learn more about the WELCOME Framework.

Growing the visitor economy

THRIVE 2030 is Australia’s national strategy for the long-term, sustainable growth of the visitor economy.