ON A ROLL: Robyn and Bruce Hordern at the holiday cottage designed for people with disabilities.
ON A ROLL: Robyn and Bruce Hordern at the holiday cottage designed for people with disabilities. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

It’s a dream on wheels

AN old timber cottage that was once slated for demolition is now providing dream holidays for people with disabilities.

MacNicol Cottage in Ballina has been restored to its former glory and it now has wide doorways, a wheelchair accessible bathroom, ramps and open-plan living areas.

In 2005 the cottage - built by Bert Barlow in 1940 - was set to be demolished to make way for a new development.

But Ballina couple Bruce and Robyn Hordern saw its potential.

"The building was on the corner of Fox and Norton Sts," Mrs Hordern said.

"It was going to be knocked down, so we got it for free, but it cost a lot of money to move it here to Burnet St and to do all of the renovations.

"But we wanted to provide something that was beautiful and easy for people with disabilities to get around in.

"We have a lot of friends in wheelchairs.

"We've heard how hard it is to find somewhere that is fully wheelchair accessible.

"It's hard enough living with a disability. You don't want to be stuck in your own home forever because it's too difficult to go on a holiday.

"A lot of times our friends would get to a resort that said it was 'wheelchair friendly', only to find a few steps.

"It's so frustrating.

"MacNicol Cottage is totally accessible.

"It's also pet friendly, because a lot of people with disabilities have companion animals and also because some people just like to take their dogs on holidays with them."

There are no floor coverings in MacNicol Cottage, so wheelchairs can't get caught on rugs.

The bathroom is large, with handrails, but it doesn't feel like a hospital.

It's clear the Horderns have identified a need - many of MacNicol Cottage's guests are return visitors.

"They come for a holiday and never want to leave."



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