In our latest blog about the life experiences of 21-year-old Ethan Woollaston, we followed him to his favourite pub for a relaxing beer and a chat about living independently.
Ethan visits the Austral Hotel in Rundle Street every week, which gives him an opportunity to relax, have a beer, chat with other pub patrons, and have some time to himself.
His message to young people living with disability is to give it a go. With a little bit of planning, a visit to a pub for a drink or a meal, with your friends and family or just on your own, can be an enjoyable experience.
“The Austral was actually recommended by my mother and a carer, as one of the pubs they used to go to when they were young adults. So I thought, ok, maybe we would have a go,” says Ethan.
“The staff members have been lovely from the get-go, and I’ve been coming here once or twice a week ever since, especially during the summer. It’s great to just sit out here, relax, and enjoy the Australian summer overlooking our beautiful Rundle Street, Rundle Mall, and the city of Adelaide.
“I enjoy coming here on my own – it’s my time when I can just relax. I do talk to strangers, but I just come here to relax and just to think. I call it my time out when I come here to the Austral and have a couple of beers and do whatever I want – except break the law, of course!”
Ethan uses smart technology – in this case an Apple watch – to pay for his drinks, which gives him much more confidence and security.
“The staff simply swipe the payWave device past my watch and then hand me a beer,” he says.
“I bought my Apple watch a couple of years ago to help me pay for things. I used to have to ask strangers to get money out of my wallet, which was really dangerous because there was always the risk of having your wallet, cash and credit cards stolen. So with the watch I can just tap a button to access my cards and I just pay for a beer that way. It’s a lot safer and it’s a lot more powerful because I’m able to do that all on my own.”
Ethan says the Austral staff are wonderful.
“They treat me like a normal person. When you visit a pub you don’t want to be treated like a child – you want to be treated like an adult – and I treat them with respect,” says Ethan.
“I want to come and have a beer and enjoy myself and make friends. This is excellent because I can come and do my shopping, do whatever I want to do, and then come down here to the pub for a beer before I go home. It’s fantastic that the Austral is here and I think other people living with disability would enjoy it here.
“You don’t have to drink alcohol if you don’t want to, and you can eat here – they do great kangaroo burgers and the Austral burger, and traditional meals like schnitzels and fish and chips. You don’t have to be a party animal, you can just be yourself. And you can come here with friends and family, or you can talk to the people here at the pub – that’s what I do.”
Ethan says it’s important to plan your outing.
“My tip is to get to know the area first – for the Austral Hotel its Rundle Street and Rundle Mall – and then think about visiting the pub. For me, Rundle Mall and Rundle Street run straight, so if you can see the Target store on the corner of Rundle Street and Pulteney Street, you can also see the Austral,” he says.
“But give it a go, and if you don’t like the venue that’s fine, but just try to do what any other Aussies do on a Friday night or during the week – visit a pub for a drink and a meal. You’ll also work out when the best times of the day to visit are – there are some busy times of the day when it may not be ideal to visit your favourite pub.
“It’s very accessible here. There is a big door which is perfect. Both doors open which enables me to get through in my chair. There’s also a lift up to the toilet which is fantastic because, as you know when you have a couple of beers, you’re going to need to go to the toilet. Some places might be more accessible than others, so don’t be afraid to ask around. Family and friends might be aware of wheelchair accessibility at the places they like to visit.
Ethan would welcome people coming to have a chat with him when he visits the Austral.
“Definitely come down and say hi. I’m here mainly on Thursdays at around 4.00pm – you can stay until the sun goes down and then go home. I love watching the sunset – but I’m open to offers to come here to the Austral whenever I can.”
You can find out more about how smartwatches and other devices can support your independence at our blog. We also have more tips for going out and enjoying yourself when you live with disability, and stacks of information about communication support when you go out.