What is a beach access mat?

    A beach access mat is a long, sturdy ‘mat’ that is placed on top of soft sand and other surfaces to allow wheeled mobility aids (such as wheelchairs and prams) and people who have difficulty walking to reach the firmer sand near the water’s edge. 

    Due to the movement of tides and sand at the beach, it is not always guaranteed that the mat will provide access to the hard sand. Beach access mats are installed in locations and of a length that provides access to the hard sand most of the time whilst minimizing the potential impacts of wave and tidal movements on the mat. 

    How do I report an issue with the beach mat?

    The beach access mat will be inspected frequently by Council and maintained to a reasonable standard, but the mat will be impacted by the changeable weather conditions of our coastline. The mat may be slippery when wet from rain, dew or the sea. It is also likely the beach mat will be covered in sand or other coastal debris following high tides or strong winds. 

    Council will check and undertake maintenance regularly on weekdays. If you notice the mats require immediate maintenance, please call our Customer Services team on 03 6297 9500 or email us at clarence@ccc.tas.gov.au 

    Why isn’t the beach mat there today?

    During the trial period Council may need to roll up and remove part or all of the mat to prevent damage or injury from forecast storms, strong winds or king tides. We will replace the mat as soon as possible after the weather event has passed.

    Why was Bellerive Beach selected for the trial site?

    Council considered various beaches and coastal access points for the trial project. A lot of our beaches are not suitable for beach access mats as the access path are too steep, rocky or use steps to get down to the sand. A lot of our beaches are also exposed to and heavily impacted by waves and tidal movement meaning the mat would likely be damaged or washed away. 

    Bellerive was selected as the best site for the trial as it is one of our most popular beach destinations for residents and visitors to Clarence. This will allow us to capture a lot of data during the trial from a wide range of users. The beach is wide at low tide with plenty of hard sand allowing people to move along and enjoy the full length of the beach. Bellerive Beach also has existing infrastructure to support people to get to and stay longer at the beach such as car parking, public toilets, beach showers, shade shelters, generous footpaths, picnic facilities, a playground and nearby takeaway and cafes. 

    Is this the best site for the trial?

    The trial site is not perfect. 

    Firstly, we know the existing access ramp at Bellerive Beach is not ideal for pedestrians. It is steep and originally designed for vehicles and launching boats, not for providing pedestrians access to the beach. Even with the beach mat installed, we acknowledge that this ramp may still be too steep, inaccessible or difficult to use for some people.

    In the long term, council plans to construct a beach front promenade that provides inclusive access options down to the sand and water as part of the Bellerive Beach Park Master Plan implementation. However, construction of a promenade is still a few years away from commencing and we recognize that there is strong demand for improved access to Bellerive Beach right now. Through discussions with key stakeholders and listening to observations, requests and complaints received from the community – we understand that people prefer we action improvements to inclusive beach access across Clarence (but especially at Bellerive) right now, rather than waiting for the perfect solution in the future.  

    In preparation for the trial project, minor site works have been undertaken to level out the transition from the shared path to the existing ramp and we have installed synthetic grass to overcome the challenge of windblown sand building up on the path edge. The access mat will provide a firm, continuous path of travel from the shared path, across the synthetic grass, down the ramp and across most of the soft sand. The mat is 20m long and, depending on the tides, will get visitors across the softest parts of the beach and closer to hard sand and the water’s edge.

    During high tides at Bellerive Beach, the water can reach close to the of the ramp. Throughout the trial, council will be learning in real time how the beach and tidal movements impact on the beach access mat. We will be doing our best to record our observations, learn as we go, action maintenance tasks and implement improvements to the mat installation throughout the trial period. 

    We need your help to understand what works, what doesn’t work, whether this is improving access or making it harder for you, what we can do better and where else you would like to see a beach access mat trialed in Clarence. 

    How long is the trial?

    Trial Period: Launch during week of 18 December (just before school holidays commence). Trial period of 6 weeks (or close to end of school holidays).

    Where can I find other accessible beaches and places?

    The following sites have information about other accessible beaches and places that may be of interest to you:

    Do other local councils have beach mats?

    Kingborough Council has unveiled new accessible beach matting for visitors heading to Kingston Beach during the summer season.

    The matting will be rolled out each weekend and public holidays from December to March by the Kingston Beach Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) volunteers and will be available between 12pm to 4:30pm.

    The SLSC say their beach will become the first in Tasmania to consistently offer beach matting on weekends.

    Do other interstate Councils provide Beach Access Mats?

    Some examples of other councils providing Beach Access Mats.

    City of Port Adelaide Enfield : Beach Access Mats

    Beach Access Mats | Port Adelaide Enfield (cityofpae.sa.gov.au)

    Beach Mats provide accessible points in key locations along our coastline.

    Each beach mat consists of a long, sturdy ‘mat’ that is placed on the top of soft sand, to enable wheeled mobility aids (such as wheelchairs or prams) and those who have difficulty walking to reach the firmer sand at the water’s edge. However it cannot always be guaranteed that the Beach Access Mats will reach the hard sand due to the constantly changing sand and tides, the mats are placed in a position where the majority of the time they will reach hard sand.

    It is important that the areas surrounding the Beach Mat locations also provide accessible and inclusive facilities. We have worked collaboratively with the local community to ensure the mats have been placed in areas where there are other supporting elements such as parking and toilet facilities.

    City of Gold Coast : Beach wheelchairs & matting

    Beach wheelchairs & matting | City of Gold Coast

    We want everyone to be able to enjoy our beaches. Through our Beach Access Program, we partner with local surf life saving clubs and community organisations to provide beach wheelchairs and beach matting for people to use free of charge at the following locations.

    If you want to use a beach wheelchair outside of the days and times in the following list, please contact the club to check availability.

    South Australian State Government : Inclusive SA

    Inclusive SA - Beach Access for All

    A whole-of-government approach based on fairness and respect to improve access and inclusion for people with disability. One focus in Beach Access for All.

    City of Kingston: Access friendly beaches 

    Disability information - City of Kingston 

    Accessible beach matting

    Mordialloc and Carrum beaches have beach matting to provide a firm path to the water’s edge.

    The beach matting is rolled out by volunteer lifeguards on weekends during the Life Saving Club’s patrolled hours. Whilst volunteer clubs aim to ensure the matting is out during patrol, there may be occasions when this is not possible due to tides or volunteer availability.

    Beach Access in the News


    Disability advocates call for government investment to improve Australian beach accessibility - ABC News

    What makes a beach accessible?

    According to not-for-profit Accessible Beaches Australia, key accessibility features include:

    • Beach matting (a flexible, portable rollout pathway suitable for a range of mobility devices) to the water's edge
    • Multiple, wide parking bays located close to access points
    • Beach wheelchairs and wide, clear pathways with direct beach access and compliant ramps to accommodate them
    • Easy-to-use accessible bathrooms and changing facilities — ideally with a hoist
    • Shaded areas and access to fresh water
    • Nearby public transport and food outlets