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Unisson clients Damien and Jun use new lifts to cross Sydney Harbour bridge

At Unisson, we’re always looking for opportunities for clients to access their communities and explore new places and experiences, so when we heard that lifts had been installed at either end of the Sydney Harbour bridge, to make the bridge accessible for everyone, we asked our clients who rely on accessibility, if anyone would like to give them a try.

Unisson Shared Living housemates Damien and Jun were interested in making the trip, so we began researching to ensure the entire route was accessible and not too long. Initial online research confirmed the locations of the lifts and accessibility from Milson’s Point station to the Broughton street lift, but the accessibility of the route from the lift at the City end of the bridge was a little unclear – so Unisson staff set out to investigate on foot.

They made sure to note all ramps, lifts, accessible toilets (and checked for cleanliness) and pavement quality. As expected, the Rocks end was a little trickier (lots of steps), but with the help of a friendly parking ranger, they found a route that ticked all the boxes for accessibility and distance, and also made for an interesting journey. See below for a link to download a map of this route.

Download a map of our route

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The day of the trip was a bright and clear Autumn day and Damien, Jun and their Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) Karen and Viliami were looking forward to their day out.

After a brief train ride from Gordon station in Sydney’s North Shore, they arrived at Milson’s Point and, a two-minute walk later, reached the Broughton street lift, passing the steep steps which, until recently, were the only way for pedestrians to access the bridge. The new lift is an impressive structure of metal and green glass and stands in stark contrast to the adjoining old stone of the Harbour Bridge. The capacity of the lift easily fitted our group and provided a smooth and steady ride to the bridge. When the lift doors opened, they were met with a multisensory experience of being on the bridge – so much more than looking out of a train or car window.

Taking a leisurely (approx. 20 min) stroll across the bridge, they paused to take in the sights and sounds and to take photos and videos. Damien and Jun videoed their experience and you can see their film footage featured in the short film below. Normally our videos only feature clients and their DSPs, but look out for a brief cameo by Bec from the Unisson Marketing Team in a nice clip of Jun and Damien that we thought would be a shame to remove.

The metal railing and supports of the bridge somewhat block the view for a person in a wheelchair. Damien and Jun were able to position themselves to look at the Opera House and the boats and ferries on Sydney Harbour by looking through the metal lattice, but an accessible, slightly raised viewing platform and ramp would be a welcome addition.

The first lift’s twin met our group at the City end of the bridge and brought them down into Cumberland street for the remaining (approx. 15 min) walk to Darling Harbour. They turned left, going under the bridge and turned right into Lower Fort Street and right again onto George street, passing quaint old buildings and quirky cafes. This is where they decided to stop for lunch, choosing the $10 lunch specials – Jun and Damien recommend the chicken schnitzels!

After lunch, they continued down Cumberland street, turning right into Playfair street. We’d arranged to make the trip on a Friday to take in the vibrant Playfair Street and Mundey Place street market, featuring crafts and multiple food stalls, and everyone enjoyed meandering through this area. This market also pays a visit every Sunday – great timing to take advantage of the Sunday reduced Opal travel rates.

Our group then continued down Argyle Street and entered Darling Harbour to a magnificent view of the Opera House and were entertained by several musicians and street performers on the way to Circular Quay station for the train ride home.

Damien said he’d enjoyed the day and Jun, who communicates with sign language, is captured expressing his enjoyment of the trip across the bridge in the photos and video, signing that he “loved it”.