48-hour guide to boating, camping and fishing in Ipswich

Every good city worth their title has a river running through it. But Ipswich does one better with two major waterways – the Brisbane and Bremer River - defining its boundaries.
Rochelle Vaisanen, Blogger

Every good city worth their title has a river running through it.

But Ipswich does one better with two major waterways – the Brisbane and Bremer River – defining its boundaries. If you’re picking up what we’re putting down, Ipswich is a water lover’s nirvana.

Pack the car, esky and don’t stop for anything but bait along the way, because we’ve got you covered with this 48-hour guide to camping, fishing and canoeing in Ipswich.

Day 1 – Friday

Colleges Crossing

2PM: Make tracks to Ipswich

Pack the car and hit the road to Ipswich. From Brisbane, it’s less than a Netflix episode of your favourite show between stops, but you might as well be worlds away.

Head along the Ipswich Motorway before turning off onto the Cunningham Highway at Dinmore, following signs to Ipswich until you reach Ipswich-Boonah Rd at Yamanto.

If you need to grab any last minute supplies (or marshmallows for the campfire for tonight), make a quick detour right at the Yamanto turnoff where you’ll find a Woolworths supermarket.

3PM: Check into your ‘room’ with a view at Hardings Paddock

Hardings Paddock campground

When you love the great outdoors, you sleep in it, and Hardings Pocket campground delivers a room (aka site) with a view.

Located 32km from Colleges Crossing, the campground has eight, unpowered campsites, which is accessed by a locked gate on Carmichaels Rd. You’ll get a code to the gate when you book your spot, like a secret password to paradise.

Amenities: Shower cubicles, kitchen, BBQs and picnic tables (FYI – there isn’t any drinking water on site, so make sure you bring your own)

Day 2 – Saturday

7AM: Cast a line at Colleges Crossing

Colleges Crossing

They say the early bird catches the worm, but in Ipswich, the early bird baits one.

Head to Colleges Crossing Recreation Reserve, just 25km from Hardings Pocket, to test the theory that fish bite better in the mornings.

You’ll find Colleges (as she’s known to locals) on the banks of the Brisbane River at Chuwar.

Once a local’s-only playground, it’s now drawing a larger crowd thanks to a major facelift following the floods of 2011 and its epic playground complete with a climbing rock, fort, musical wall and sway boat.

Top Tip: Fish are active at different times of the day depending the season. If you’re there in summer get to the banks early, if it’s cooler, you might want to consider fishing in the afternoon.

Facilities: BBQs, car parking, drinking water, gazebos, picnic facilities, power and public toilets

12PM: Grab a bite at Colleges by the River

Didn’t hook a fish? Don’t worry – you won’t go hungry in Ipswich. Head to Colleges by the River and grab a wrap, sandwich or burger and take in the surrounds of the reserve with lunch alfresco.

Of course, if you’d prefer to save your lunch money for later on, fire up one of the public BBQs on the reserve.

Before jumping back in the car, stretch the legs with a short stroll to the lookout for a panorama of the whole reserve.

Find it: Colleges by the River, Open 7 days a week, 9-3.

3PM: Take a lesson on bush tucker plants and hike Rocky Knoll Lookout

Chalk Circuit

Work up an appetite for a cheese board and sundowner with an afternoon hike to Rocky Knoll Lookout.

Before trekking to the lookout, find your way onto the Chalk Circuit track that encircles the picnic area, for a quick lesson on bush tucker.

Using interpretive signs, the track shares both Indigenous and European stories about the surrounding native plants and how they were once used as a means of food.

Chalk Circuit is only 560 meters and relatively flat, but a good warm up for the 2.4km track to Rocky Knoll, where you’ll weave through eucalypt woodlands and catch glimpses of the Scenic Rim and surrounding Ipswich.

The walk should take approximately 1.5.hrs, so allow plenty of time to get back to your campsite in daylight hours to get the fire going.

6PM: Light the campfire

Is it even camping if you can’t light a fire? We think not.

Although there are gas BBQs to fire up in the communal kitchen, you can also light your own campfire at one of the designated areas.

Day 3 – Sunday

5:30AM: Early morning hike

Step out of your pajamas into your activewear and take to any of the seven walking trails connected to this campground. Trips range from 560m to 19km, like a menu of adventure on your doorstep.

Add another lookout to your Instagram feed and catch the morning rays over the Scenic Rim and Brisbane by hiking to Goolman Lookout.

This 5.6km round trip offers spectacular views of Mt Goolman and Ivory’s Rock, Scenic Rim and Brisbane and will take up to three hours.

9:30AM: Grab a hearty breakfast

Fourthchild Cafe & Restaurant

In case you missed it, the food scene in Ipswich has exploded over the past few years and there’s no shortage of coffee shops to rival the streets of the big cities.

Great news if you’re chasing a big breakfast to give you the paddle power for what’s installed next.

For hearty savoury mince, red velvet pancakes or a good ol’ eggs benny and cup of Campos stop by Fourthchild Cafe & Restaurant.

11AM: Launch the Canoe

Canoeing in Ipswich

When there are two rivers at your paddle-tips, it makes sense to hire a canoe to discover them from water-level.

For paddling paradise make a beeline for the junction of where the Brisbane and Bremer River meet, Joseph Brady Park at Barellan Point.

Taking the Brisbane River the river heads towards Wivenhoe Dam, passing through Colleges Crossing – a popular 14km journey.

Or for something longer, follow the canoe trail along the Bremer River for 24km of canoe or kayak friendly water.

Tip: Make sure you check the tides, as both rivers are known to have strong tidal pulls.

What’s your favourite spot to cast a line or dip the paddle in Ipswich?

Rochelle Vaisanen Blogger
When not climbing mountains on two wheels, Rochelle can be found on the hunt for the best almond croissant around town. A lover of good coffee, food and wine, and with a passion for travel, Rochelle is always on the lookout for new adventures locally and abroad.

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