Where Bear Cottage meets the sea

It has been 18 years in the making but Bear Cottage’s pathway to the beach has finally been completed.

Officially opened on 17 September, the long-held dream now means Bear Cottage children and families have a wheelchair accessible path that allows them easy access to the nearby beach.

The opening event was more than just a celebration of completion though. With many hurdles and challenges faced along the way, it was also a celebration of the commitment and determination of everyone involved in making sure the project was a success.

Works for the pathway initially began in 2002 after the Tony McCullough Foundation donated funds for a wheelchair ramp to be built in the back garden of Bear Cottage. Unfortunately, building the ramp did not prove an easy prospect and it could not be built as first planned.

Over many years, Bear Cottage and a determined group of supporters have endeavoured to find alternate routes and navigated many obstacles to try to get the project approved and built. Working with the Sydney Catholic Archdiocese and local architect, Vivianne Marston (wife of one of our Bear Cottage volunteers), an alternate pathway through the St Patrick’s Estate was designed.

With the project much bigger than first anticipated, long-time and passionate supporters of Bear Cottage, John Holland Group CPB Ghella stepped in. They offered their expertise and took over the project management and construction, calling on a number of their contractors and suppliers to also donate their services, and see the project through to it's completion.

Last week, Bear Cottage mum, Jennifer Brankin and son, Alexander, became the first to walk along the new path, which will ensure equity of access to all children.

See more photos on the Bear Cottage Facebook page.

The pathway has been fittingly named "McCullough Way" after the Tony McCullough Foundation, who championed the project over the 18 years and contributed substantial funds to ensure that it would become a reality.

Special thanks to the Sydney Catholic Arch Diocese, Vivianne Marston from Marston Architects, Fleetwood Urban, Arcadis, Ken Ramsay Legal, Mostyn Copper, TKD Architects, Baker Group, Holcim, JC Excavations, East to West Plant Services, JK Williams Contracting, Wallace Concrete Pumping, Geosurv, Coates Hire, ARC, HL Landscapes, Margot Blues Arborist, Applied Ecology Pty Ltd, Vista Access Architects, CMS Surveyors, James Griffin Member for Manly, Mayor Michael Regan Northern Beaches Council, Roy Anlezark and Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.