Are we there yet Dad? Dad? Hey Mum, are we there yet? Mum mum mum muuuuuum?
If this sounds familiar you might be pleased to know there’s a south-east Queensland destination you can reach from Brisbane, Toowoomba, the Goldie and the Sunshine Coast without a monotonous long haul drive.
Say g’day to Ipswich. Yes, the historic city with a big country heart, once unsung but now suddenly a little bit hipster, also happens to be 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’s it’s just a short wander to the Ipswich Nature Centre, the only free zoo in south-east Queensland, where you can see quolls and rock wallabies, a wombat named Milly, 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 an 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 Haigslea 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 new Nicholas Street Precinct and Top of Town 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.
Return to Ipswich city and check into your spacious family room at Quest Apartments. The kids will love the pool here 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 and a diverse menu.
There’s also a fabulous Indian restaurant in walking distance from your room at Quest Apartments – 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’s or Fourthchild in the Top of Town.
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 heading out of town towards Brisbane, the PA 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.