Accessible Sydney - Accessible history & heritage landmarks

If you are interested in learning about Australia’s convict and colonial history – or just want to take in some notable architecture – there are several attractions in the heart of the CBD that cater to those with accessibility needs. 

Customs House 

Start at Customs House, a pretty sandstone building at Circular Quay dating back to 1845 which now serves as a free public 'lounge room'. Relax in the library, take in an exhibition, catch up on world affairs by pouring over international newspapers or dine at the rooftop Café Sydney (which has an operating stair-lifter).  

  • Getting there: Customs House is located opposite the transport hub of Circular Quay, which is serviced by accessible ferries, buses and trains. 

  • Getting around: Ramps on both sides of the building, from Loftus St and Young St, lead visitors to the entry level’s reading rooms and lift access to the upper floors. 

  • Accessible toilets: There are accessible toilets on the ground level, as well as on level one. 

 

Hyde Park Barracks 

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hyde Park Barracks has served many purposes in its more than 200-year history. Aside from first housing convicts, it has also served as an immigration depot, asylum, law courts and government offices.  

Today, Hyde Park Barracks operates as one of Sydney’s most cutting-edge museums with vivid stories to uncover during a self-guided, interactive experience. Accessible versions of the self-guided experience are available, including an option for wheelchair users, an audio descriptive tour and iPad transcripts.  

  • Getting there: Explorer buses head along Macquarie St and the train stations at Martin Place and St James provide lift access to the platforms. The St James station is approximately 200m from Hyde Park Barracks. 

  • Getting around: There is lift access to all levels in the main Barracks building, ramp access is provided across the site where needed to ensure a continuous and consistent path, and the museum provides an Accessibility Site Map so visitors can plan out their visit. 

  • Accessible toilets: A unisex access toilet is located on the lower level of the main building.   

 

Parliament House 

Explore the birthplace of governance in Australia by visiting the Parliament House. Within its existing network of buildings on Macquarie St – where the Parliament of NSW still meets – is the oldest surviving building in the Sydney CBD.  

On select days, take the one-hour guided tour through the Legislative Chambers and view the historic Parkes, Wentworth and Jubilee rooms. Hearing induction and infra-red sound enhancement systems are installed in the visitors’ galleries of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council Chambers, as well as in several rooms and theatrettes – click here for more information. 

  • Getting there: Transport options include Elizabeth St buses and train stations at Circular Quay and Martin Place (less than 300m away). Both stations have access lifts. 

  • Getting around: There is ramp and lift access from the Macquarie St entrance to reception, where there are accessible lifts. There is flat access to the Macquarie, Jubilee, McKell and Preston Stanley Rooms, Public Café and Strangers Dining Room. There is also flat access into the Theatrette on level 6.  People who use wheelchairs or with mobility needs who wish to attend Question Time or other proceedings in the chambers should advise the desk staff. 

  • Accessible toilets: Accessible toilets are located on levels 6 and 7. 

 

Justice & Police Museum 

Comprised of the courts, cells and police station that once made up one of the city’s busiest legal hubs, head to the Justice & Police Museum to uncover tales of smuggling, theft and illegal immigration.

Justice and Police Museum

Justice and Police Museum - Image credit: James Horan/Sydney Living Museums

Videos are narrated and captioned, and tours for those with vision impairment can be provided. A short film provides ‘visual access’ to wheelchair users who are unable to visit inaccessible parts of the site. 

  • Getting there: The nearest public car parks are at the Sir Stamford Hotel on Albert St, the Intercontinental Hotel on Phillip St or the Sydney Opera House Otherwise, the museum is a 2min walk from Circular Quay ferry and train station. 

  • Getting around: The building offers wheelchair access via a ramped entry from Albert St and then access to most areas, including the main exhibition gallery and police court. Visitors who cannot climb one or more steps can access Rooms 1, 2, 3, 4 and 12 – collect your self-guided map upon arrival. Upon arrival, ring the bell and staff will unlock doors to usher you through. 

  • Accessible toilets: Accessible toilets are available. 

 

Government House 

Situated inside the pretty Royal Botanic, Government House is the official residence of the Governor of NSW. One of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the state, the house also holds a significant collection of portraits, furniture, decorative arts and historic memorabilia.

Government House Sydney

Government House Sydney. Image Credit: Government House Sydney 

Take the 45min, ground-floor-only tour to see the impressive State Rooms, the historic works of art which adorn the walls and to experience the opulence of Vice-Regal furniture. Call in advance if you’d like to arrange an Auslan interpreted tour. 

  • Getting there: Disability parking is available - contact the office during business hours before your visit to discuss your parking needs. Otherwise, the best access is through the Botanic Gardens, from Macquarie St adjacent to the Cahill Expressway footpath or from the roadway down from the Conservatorium of Music. 

  • Getting around: Access around the gardens at Government House is on bitumen and firm sandstone paths. A portable ramp is provided upon request for wheelchair access up the two wide steps into the foyer. The ground floor is then level.  

  • Accessible toilets: Permanent ramps lead to the terrace and then down to a bitumen pathway which takes visitors into the gardens and to the accessible male and female toilets. 

 

The Rocks Walking Tours 

The Rocks Walking Tours was established in 1978 and is the oldest Sydney guided walking tour, operating for more than 40 years. On the 90min leisurely stroll, hear stories of the First Fleet’s arrival in 1788, the Rum Rebellion of 1808, the Argyle Cut in 1840, the plague of 1900, the Sydney Harbour Bridge construction of the 1920s and more.   

  • Getting there: Accessible parking is available at Wilson Parking (155 George Street, The Rocks). 

  • Getting around: The Rocks area has narrow, cobbled laneways. However, The Sydney and The Rocks Historic Walking Tour has a modified route so that it is wheelchair accessible. Please let the team know at the time of booking or prior to departure.   

  • Accessible toilets: An accessible toilet is located in the Sydney Visitors Centre, which has ramp access from the Rocks Square.