Skip to main content

The view from my wheelchair: Byron Bay Bluesfest

I am a power wheelchair user who has been to the last two Bluesfests at Byron so here is my review of their accessibility features.

Clap if you found this article helpful
community Sarah Shaw

I'm one of the many people with a muscle wasting condition that hasn't quite got a name yet or official diagnosis, I live with my wife and Friday our furry companion. I first started to notice changes in my body in 2008 so I have been living with this degenerative condition for more than a decade now. I have used a wheelchair as my mode of getting around since 2014. I love getting out and about in the community and am interested in Theatre, Music and the Arts. I also keep an eagle eye on what is happening in current affairs across the country. I worked in the Federal Public Service for twenty-six years and retired due to invalidity about two years ago.

Last updated:

I love live music and the chance to see hundreds of artists in the one spot is very appealing but let’s face it festivals are expensive and before you make the investment you want to know that you’re actually going to be able to enjoy the event as your needs are met.

I am a power wheelchair user who has been to the last two Bluesfests at Byron so here is my review of their accessibility features.


  • The festival recognises companion card and has the easiest process I have seen in regard to this. Simply buy your ticket and on the day present at the ticket office with your card and carer. Bluesfest will issue a free ticket. If you have a multi-day pass the ticket office will issue your carer (if you are bringing the same carer each day) the same wristband. Simple, no faxing off companion card details, no having to present each day.
  • The site is flat, and the organisers have done an enormous amount of work to ensure even in the event of rain it drains well. As a power wheelchair user, I have no problems navigating the site. Manual wheelchair users may want to consider wider tyres for the event as you will be navigating over gravel in some areas.
  • All stages for the event are held in large circus type tents. This means no worrying about whether your chair is going to get wet in the middle of a set.
  • All of the stages in 2019 had accessible viewing platforms for wheelchair users. They don’t actually advertise this and only guarantee this for the major stages where the headliners play. In this regard they under promise and over deliver. If you are the type of person who likes to be in spitting distance of your favourite artist and like to get up and close with as many people as possible, don’t fret the platforms are not mandatory.
View from disabled seating
Disabled seating
  • There are a reasonable number of disabled toilets throughout the site which are large enough for a person in a large power wheelchair like mine to transfer. There are no changing places facilities. I take a toilet extender to ensure my height requirements are met.
Disabled toilets
  • Other major facilities like the merchandise tent and the main food area are all wheelchair accessible through the provision of ramps.
  • The organisers promise that disability parking permit holders can park as close as possible to the North entrance and they deliver on this promise.
Disabled parking
  • The organisers give every indication that accessibility is a priority for them. So far features have improved each year and they actively canvas for feedback.


  • Due to the accessibility of the festival and its popularity the viewing platforms do get crowded. If you want to ensure you can use this facility for a particular act, you need to get there well in advance. For popular sets it is unlikely that your carer can sit with you as wheelchair users are given priority. If sitting together is a priority at the major stages, you can opt to sit outside together where large screens show the action on stage.
  • Festival buses to the event are not wheelchair accessible meaning that you need to either take your own car or find alternative transport privately. There is a fee for parking.
  • Some private retail stores are not accessible throughout the site.
  • The festival is very busy especially after 5pm each night. Navigating through the site can therefore be slow or difficult just due to the sheer number of people. If you don’t deal well with crowds this is not the place for you.

Tip for saving money:

Buy your ticket early. Return patrons have the option of buying a festival pass for next year in the fortnight after this year’s festival for a fraction of the ticket price charged once the artists are announced.

See you there!!!

Join the conversation

You must be a Loop member to leave a comment
Please sign in to join the conversation, or create an account if you're not yet a member.

Have advice, 'how to' guides or a story you want to share? We want to hear from you!

Share your story

You can submit your story or guide via our form. Provided your content meets our content requirements, your post will be published by a Loop moderator to the Living Life section.

Share your story

Acknowledgment of Country

Aboriginal, Australian, and Torres Strait Islander flags

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognize their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.