Are we there yet Dad? Dad? Hey Mum, are we there yet? Mum mum mum muuuuuum?
If this sounds familiar, you’ll be pleased to know there’s a south-east Queensland destination you can reach from Brisbane, Toowoomba, the Gold and the Sunshine Coasts without a monotonous long haul drive.
Say g’day to Ipswich, the historic city with a big country heart, packed with fun things for adventurous families to do.
Pack the car Friday night because we’re leaving early to arrive for breakfast in a café in the heart of Queensland’s oldest designated public parkland, Queens Park.
Give the kids a run around the adventure playground before heading into Queens Park Café for breakfast. The café has spacious seating, smashing coffee for mum and dad, and a big menu of crowd pleaser favourites from eggs Benedict to a cheesy beef nachos and assorted fresh baked cakes in the cabinet.
From here it’s just a short wander to the Ipswich Nature Centre, the only free zoo in south-east Queensland, where you can see a wombat, quolls, rock wallabies, strutting peacocks and a range of farm animals.
If this has whet the kids’ appetite for animal encounters you might like to jump in the car and visit one of the region’s farms, all within a few minutes’ drive from the city, where you can feed sheep and alpacas, walk with a llama, sample goat milk gelato and even ride a camel. Book ahead for your visit to Ewe-nique Hobby Farm, The Llama Farm, Naughty Little Kids or Summer Land Camels.
If you’d rather stay in the city, take a walk in the Nicholas Street and Top of Town precincts along Brisbane Street with its eclectic array of shops, including a fourth generation hobby shop, CJ Vogler & Sons, that has been selling model cars and trains since 1877.
Or take a stroll down the River Heart Parklands Boardwalk along the Bremer River.
Then check into your spacious family room at Quest Apartments. The kids will love the pool here complete with inflatable toys and gaming options in your room too.
If time permits, check out the Ipswich Art Gallery in d’Arcy Doyle Place, which always has plenty on offer for children, including touring interactive exhibitions and fun events.
From the art gallery, pop into the neighbouring restaurant for dinner – Indian Mehfil is a popular family restaurant set in a grand historic bank building with a diverse menu.
There’s also a fabulous Indian restaurant in walking distance from your room at Quest Ipswich – Essence of Indya, complete with a leafy fairy-lit courtyard. From here it’s an effortless stroll back to your room to unwind after your day’s adventuring.
On Sunday morning, you can set off walking in the other direction along Warwick Rd to the Showplace Markets which offer a colourful array of plants, craft and clothing stalls, as well as an antiques section and food trucks. Grab breakfast at the market or enjoy one of the city’s many cafes such as St Shoebill or Fourthchild in the Top of Town precinct.
Next stop is The Workshops Rail Museum, a five-minute drive over to North Ipswich where this unique attraction occupies an historically significant site as the birthplace of rail in Queensland.
Explore every facet of the state’s rail history – including a model railway of the Queensland network and grand restored locomotives. The museum hosts fascinating touring exhibitions throughout the year and has an on-site café and gift shop where Thomas the Tank Engine merch features prominently.
If you’re in town on one of the monthly scheduled Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway running days, book a one hour train ride through old coal mining sites, bushland and past quaint miners cottages in one of their heritage timber carriages. The diesel and steam trains leave from the restored Swanbank train station which is steeped in history.
If you’re heading out of town towards Brisbane, the Prince Alfred Hotel will be beckoning for lunch or dinner. Home to Char’d restaurant and Tap’d Bar, this award-winning sprawling modern venue offers diverse menus and the biggest craft beer offering in the southern hemisphere with 72 ales and ciders on tap at any one time.
The perfect way to cap off a fun-filled break away in Ipswich – a destination far away enough to offer some new adventures but close enough to keep the littlies from getting too bored on the drive back home!
We would love to see you here soon.
For more accommodation options see our accommodation page.