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Australian accessible holiday spot for disabled people

When Belinda Wardlaw (pictured) was 11, doctors told her parents she probably wouldn’t live beyond 16 years.

She turns 47 this year and not only defied the odds by surviving the rare Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy - a degenerative disorder that causes muscles to gradually waste away - but also had a child, something she was told would not be possible.

Ms Wardlaw, of Peregian Springs on the Sunshine Coast has been confined to a wheelchair since becoming pregnant with her son, Edward now aged 13 and more than 183 cm tall. She and her husband separated when their son was a toddler so Ms Wardlaw raised him as a single mum.

Her condition hasn’t dampened her entrepreneurial spirit or her endeavours to improve the lives of the aged, infirmed or others with physical disabilities, and their carers.

In 2006, Ms Wardlaw gathered her $1 and $2 coins and with $250 started her business BE Lifestyle Retreats that offers short- or long-term alternatives to institutionalised care.

The business now employs 10 fully-qualified staff and includes a retreat at Cooran in the Noosa hinterland that accommodates four people and a four-bedroom holiday house at Peregian Springs.

Special features of the accommodation include electric beds, pressure mattresses, hoists and commode chairs as well as wheelchair access and wheelchair accessible vehicle pick-up and delivery service. Picnic packages and tours to wheelchair accessible venues can be organised.

She said she was frustrated with the level of care she was given when she first needed it and her high expectations have helped her provide what her clients need.

"We want to empower disabled people and the frail aged so they can enjoy a high quality and socially-included life through individually tailoring care services and providing community interaction," she said.

She has championed the rights of the disabled at federal and state government levels and started the Queenslanders with a Disability Network.