Our taxi from Sydney Airport to the Meriton Apartments in George St Parramatta cost $100.Outside the entrance a young woman lay unco on the footpath, mobile phone at her flung fingertips. Inside there were about ten steps. I made eye contact with the trio at reception but no-one budged. Finally my helper struggled in with the suitcases. I had to bellow like a Mallee bull to get help. Checkin took more than thirty minutes. The wheelie access is down the side street and through three heavy doors secured by swipe card. The apartment door is very heavy, although at least it has a lever handle. It would be impossible without assistance for many wheelies. There is an intercom to call reception for assistance. The balcony looks mainly onto a concrete wall. Welcome to Parramatta.

Things improved a bit after this minor culture shock (I live in the very centre of Melbourne with lovely views). The balcony is generous. The shower is ok, although the head is not very manoeuvrable. My partner said the water was lukewarm one morning and then inexplicably hot. I found it sufficient. Unlike many ‘adapted’ apartments there is a timber ramp on the balcony which renders it accessible. A good effort. The garden can be seen from the balcony table, which is OK but has no room for wheelchairs underneath. Likewise for the kitchen table, although I am taller than many. It’s okay, because I sidle up to it.

There is air conditioning and a good-sized TV in the lounge and bedroom. The kitchen has an adequate fridge, microwave, oven and so on. There’s a coffee plunger. The queen bed is good, though a bit low. Space is reasonable. The bedroom has carpet (a bad thing I reckon) and a small lip at the door.

The best attribute is the ferry terminal just outside the back door, about 50 minutes to circular quay and quite cheap. It is accessible and quite charming. It’s a spectacular way to come into the harbour. The train is about 800 metres away. Footpaths are a bit rough, and the Charles St area is a bit scary at night. Things are better near Church St. Church St has a lot of restaurants including Italian but they it’s mostly overpriced with average food. Much better, my friend says, is Wigram St, Harris Parks, 15 minutes walk South. Lots of old houses converted to Indian restaurants. The “Port Bar” just above the Ferry terminal also had surprisingly good food. Bookings are advisable.

There are plenty of supermarkets within 1 km. The Aldi is closest, and adequate. The best is the Coles, over the river 1 km in Victoria St. The walk is quite pleasant.

Finally, I wandered along the south side of the river from the Ferry and eventually found the old gate to Parramatta park. This is at the west end of George St, a more direct route. Up the hill is the first government house in Australia. There is access to the ground floor via a ramp. Not incredible, but worth a look.

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