Point Cook Coastal Park features abundant birdlife, an historic bluestone homestead, intertidal sand banks and a Marine Reserve. Located 20 km southwest of Melbourne, it is a popular destination for birdwatchers, nature lovers and family groups.
Over 250 fauna species have been recorded at Point Cook Coastal Park. During the Victorian summer, visiting migratory birds move between the wetlands and saltmarsh at Point Cook, the beach sand flats and Cheetham Wetlands, depending on the tides. The endangered Orange-bellied Parrot is known to feed in the saltmarsh at Point Cooke.
Beach Recreation Area
Parking is available in three main car parks. Between each carpark is a toilet block. An information centre is located between the two toilet blocks. In the corner nearest the toilet block of each car park is a marked disabled parking space. Each space is 4.5 metres wide. The surface is asphalt and it gives direct level access to the path to the toilet block and the central park and playground area. The car parks and path can be subject to a thin layer of wind blown sand from the beach.
The paths to the toilet blocks is a hard packed earth and gravel surface. Both blocks have an identical unisex disabled and baby change room located between the male and female entrances. They have a wide sliding door requiring light effort to open. It is fitted with a vertical handle and the doors can be opened without finger dexterity. The handle is fitted low on the door at approximately 850 millimetres from the floor. There is a rotating lock on the inside with a “wing” type handle can be operated with minimal finger dexterity.
The toilet is 450 millimetres high and is fitted with side and rear grab rails. There are exposed water pipes on the wall but these carry cold water only. It should be noted that the toilet roll holder is beyond reach from a seated position. The flush buttons are flush with the wall and would require some finger dexterity to operate. There is space beside the toilet for a wheelchair.
The hand basin has space underneath it and none of the exposed piping contains hot water. The tap is a push down type and does not require finger dexterity to operate.
There are disposal bins within the cubicle.
The main area is a large open grassed area with a playground in the middle. There is a hard packed fine gravel path from behind the toilet block to the playground. The playground has both a grassed surface and a rubberized surface to it main features. There are several features of the playground that are accessible to children using a wheelchair and wheelchair using parents can get to all parts of the playground to watch their children.
There are four beach access points at this part of the park, one on either side near the respective picnic pavilions and two in the centre of the park. The two middle paths are sandy tracks to the beach. The paths near the picnic pavilions are hard packed gravel right to the beach through the dune area. The paths are flat and wide with a smooth surface. The paths end right at the beach with only a short distance of sand to cross to the waters edge. The total distance from the car park to the waters edge is 200 metres.
On either side of the park near the beach are two major picnic pavilions. Both of these areas have a mixture of covered and open picnic areas with free electric BBQ’s. They are fitted with large tables that have a full open side that allows wheelchair users to sit front facing at the table or those requiring back support to bring their own chairs and sit at the table. The electric BBQ’s and tables are all on the one large concrete slab. The working height of the BBQ’s is 900 millimetres.
Bird Hide and Spectacle Lake
There is one marked disabled parking space at the end of the car park next to the path leading to the bird hide. The space is only the standard 2.7 metres wide but it has the clear space of the 1.8 metre access path beside it to serve as a loading zone. There are no raised barriers between the car park and the entrance path. The car park surface is asphalt and the path to the hide, including the section next to the car park, are a fine hard packed gravel.
The gate to the path is over a metre wide and has a chain “farm” type latch. Finger dexterity is required to lift the latch off its post and to feed the chain through the gate to close it.
The path is 1.2 metres wide over its entire length and the edges are marked with raised edging approximately 75 millimetres high allowing way-finding for visitors with low vision. At its half way point the path crosses a curved boardwalk. It is horizontally planked with a maximum gap between the timbers of 13 millimetres. The boardwalk has a 75 millimetre edging on both sides.
The total distance from the car park to the bird hide is 205 metres
The hide is entered off a second boardwalk through a 950 millimetre door. In the centre of the hide is a wheelchair position. It has a roll under section, lower bench for binoculars and cameras and dual height observation viewing slits. The slides are hinged and held in place by a large wooden latch that can be operated without finger dexterity.
Point Cook Homestead
Parking at the Point Cook Homestead is on a gravel area near the cafe and picnic area. There are no marked disabled parking spaces. The surface of the car park is level and is a gravel road base.
To the immediate left of the entry is a set of toilets. They are accessed by a fine hard packed gravel path.The last one in the series is a disabled room. It is accessed by a short 1 in 14 wooden ramp. The room has a large swing door that opens inward with light pressure. It has a light self closer on it and a rotating lock.
The toilet is at the back of the room and has a seat height of 420 millimetres. There is space beside the toilet for a wheelchair and a non slip rubber mat immediately in front of it. There is a side grab and a small vertical grab bar on the back wall beside the cistern. A disposal bin is beside the toilet. The flush buttons are on top of the cistern and are raised so they can be operated with finger dexterity.
There is a small handbasin on the side wall that has both hot and cold water. Both taps are the rotating type with a fluted knob. Finger dexterity is required to operate the taps. The one on the left is hot water and the feed pipe below the basin is exposed. Pump action soap dispensers are supplied and there is a paper towel dispenser next to the basin.
There is a cafe in the grounds. Entry is level and wide. There are both internal and external seating. The internal has movable chairs and the outside are standard fixed side seating benches. Table overhang at each end of the benches is 9 inches. The outside area surface is grass.
The homestead and outbuildings can be reached from the cafe across a flat grassed area, the distance is about 250 metres. Once at the homestead there are a series of concrete paths to explore the outside of the buildings. Entree to the public areas of the homestead is from the bay side of the buildings. Entry is first via the sunroom. There is a step of 2 inches to negotiate. The door is a wide sliding one but considerable force is required to open it. From the sunroom 2 further 150 millimetre steps need to be negotiated. The remainder of the homestead has wide doors and corridors.
Just beyond the entrance to the homestead is the car park to the Cheetham Wetlands.
This is a gravel parking area with no designated disabled parking spaces.
The key attraction at the Cheetham Wetlands is the observation tower built as a dedication to “Migration and Aspirations. The track to the tower is 1.5 kilometers each way but is flat throughout.
The track starts at the gate and follows the formed access road. Pedestrian entry is through a 1.2 metre wide gate. It is a “farm” style gate with the chain type closure. The latch has to be lifted over its post which requires it to be turned and aligned. Finger dexterity is required to both open the gate and to feed the chain back through it to close it again.
800 metres down the path there is a junction. The wetlands walk follows the left hand branch through another small “farm” type gate. It is 1.2 metres wide and has the same latching method as the gate at the entrance. This path is narrower at about 1.5 metres wide. It crosses a board walk constructed of horizontal wooden planks. The boardwalk is edged with timber strips 75 millimetres high and the gaps between the timber boards no do exceed 13 millimetres.
The road that continues straight ahead at the junction brings you out at the observation tower without going through the wetlands or across the boardwalk. The road alternative is 200 metres longer.
The tower is situated on the edge of the wetlands and gives a commanding view over the former salt production pans which are now being reclaimed as a natural wetland. The tower is fully ramped to the main observation deck. There is a final section on the top that is accessed by circular staircase only. The ramp’s slope is 1 in 14, is fitted with handrails on both sides and has level rest areas.
Its surface is timber planting with the gaps between the timbers less than 13 millilitres. The final section of the tower is almost level across to the observation deck and is made of an expanded metal deck. The gaps here are 25 millimetres wide and care would need to be taken by wheelchair users with small front casters.
RAAF Point Cook
The Point Cook Airfield is active by both civilian operators and the RAAF. On the main entry road to the park are two car parks that over look RAAF Lake and the airfield. Both of these car parks have designated disabled parking spaces and both give a great view of both runways and airport activity. The aircraft movements can be viewed from your car.
There are no toilet facilities at these car parks, the nearest being at the beach access park.