Elderly Garden visitor dismayed at lack of soap in bathroom

Concerned: One of the bathrooms at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. Picture: Chris Lane
Concerned: One of the bathrooms at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. Picture: Chris Lane

"Visiting the Gardens in spring is a great experience - but I don't want to risk infection for a great experience."

Douglas Golding was dismayed during a recent visit to The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan to discover there was no soap available in the men's public toilet.

The 89-year-old Riverwood resident made the trip to Macarthur with his wife Marty, 70, to make the most of the lovely spring conditions at the garden, but ended up leaving disappointed.

"In the men's toilets, the soap containers have been ripped out of the wall, leaving an ugly scar," he said.

"It's very depressing and could be very dangerous - I think it's a very serious issue that when you go into the bathroom you can't observe elementary protection.

"Being 89, I'm in the high-risk group for infection, and everywhere else I go I don't have any problems accessing soap, but here at the garden where there were hundreds of people on the day I went, we couldn't even wash and dry our hands in the toilets."

The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan's paper daisy display is always popular in spring. Picture: Chris Lane

The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan's paper daisy display is always popular in spring. Picture: Chris Lane

Mr Golding said he arrived to the Garden "in hope, and I left apprehensive".

He said his wife carried a small hand sanitiser dispenser, and the pair relied on that upon their return to their car.

"We had to look after ourselves because the Gardens weren't looking after us," he said.

"However, I was pleased that the staff member I saw encouraged us to write a letter of complaint."

A spokeswoman for the Garden said the toilet block was without soap due to vandalism.

"Vandalism to soap dispensers in public amenities presents a dilemma for councils and outdoor public space managers across Australia," she said.

"Ensuring a reliable supply in amenity blocks, and avoiding slip hazards from broken dispensers has seen the removal of many dispensing units in areas such as national parks, public parks and botanic gardens.

"We recently reopened our Visitor Centre, where we now provide hand sanitiser for all customers inside the building.

"Until very recently, soap was provided for visitors in the bathrooms attached to the café/restaurant.

"However since the restaurant has now closed for renovation, and due to increased visitation during spring, we are now planning to introduce extra hand sanitising facilities into the busiest public toilet block closest to our Visitor Centre.

"Whilst the public health orders don't require this measure, we take the health and safety of the community seriously and will continue to look for ways to assist visitors to comply with the latest health advice."

Mr Golding said extra hand sanitisers would be a "step in the right direction". However, he said he wouldn't be visiting the Mount Annan attraction again as he deemed it "too much of a risk".

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