Wining and Dining
A tale of Springfield
It’s our first visit to Springfield, the suburb advertised as ‘a place where you can truly live, learn, work and play’. We’ve heard the stories. Now it’s time to pay a visit.
The story of Springfield’s development is almost mythical, how in 1992, despite having little money of his own, Maha Sinnathamby raised the money to purchase a 7,000-acre parcel of land in the middle of nowhere and persuaded major corporations and companies to share his vision of a purpose-built development.
“I saw a beautiful parcel of land with wide open spaces, children going to school, couples taking romantic walks in the park, families building the dream home, busy professionals taking the train to work. It was so clear in my mind. The next step was to take what was in my mind and make it into a reality,” Sinnathamby said in an interview.
Part of the City of Ipswich, Greater Springfield was to be a master-planned city where community facilities and education would be the focus, specifically located to reduce growth along the Brisbane-Gold Coast corridor in South East Queensland. The rise of the suburb is legendary.
With a present population of 32,000 people (half the size of Cairns), it’s expected that by 2030 the population will reach 138,000, a township the size of Darwin, making it Australia’s fastest emerging new city. We’re eager to check out Springfield, which recently won international acclaim when it was awarded ‘World’s Best Master Planned Community’ by the International Real Estate Federation, FIABCI.
Our first stop is the Orion Shopping Centre. Opened in 2007 and doubled in size in 2015, this shopping centre come lifestyle destination is laid out in four malls, much like a square divided into quarters, each named after its major retailer.
Constructed from a mix of materials such as timber, brick, concrete and stone, the centre’s spotlessly clean with clear breezeways and air flow, plenty of practical aesthetic features (such as boat-shaped seating planter boxes, and child-accessible basins and hand dryers) – it’s so much of a visual pleasure that we could shop all day! Or, shop and play!
There’s an adjoining fenced playground, plus a huge grassed recreation area leading to a series of swimming lagoons, water cascades and undercover picnic areas overlooked by a café, a 10, 000-seat amphitheatre and stage, bushland and 5km of bikeways, which comprise the 24 hectare Robelle Domain.
Chain restaurants front onto a fountain while, in another part of the centre, there’s a food court offering cheaper options. Facilities such as banks, doctors and dentists are located on the outer edges of the shopping centre, which has free wifi throughout. In fact, the centre is so impressive that we can’t help but see it as a model for future new developments. ‘Work Eat Shop Meet’ the logo says, and we’d add ‘Play’.
There is now a fresh, bright two story library with virtual reality and other digital experiences! Any committed shopper requires sustenance. So, here’s our experience of a few dining options in the Springfield area.
Moselle’s gorgeous location overlooking Spring Lake is reason enough for a visit. Dining on the large veranda, sun glistens on the water, model sail boats glide slowly past and birds hover around the edges. Yet, the restaurant is quite relaxed. Groups gather and enjoy celebrations, parents sit adjoining the children’s play area where their children are entertained, and a couple sit in the lounge talking over coffee. There’s no hurry to move on; no push for table turnover.
The food is a bonus. The menu contains a mix of world cuisine, Vietnamese and Thai as well as modern Australian dishes. Passing over the all-day breakfast menu, our lunch menu salads are delicious: Swordfish salad with a generous serve of fish ($17.50), and a rather interesting Thai jelly chicken salad $16.50.
Service is friendly and the water dragons that have come up from the garden hoping for a feed keep the kids amused. With BYO, there’s also lots of incentive to enjoy an ambient dinner overlooking the lake on a weekend night. Perfect for date night or a celebration!
Being owners of a home smoker, we’re keen to experience the food at BLVD (formerly situated on The Boulevard, hence its name). The fact that it’s situated underneath the Springfield Lakes Hotel where we are staying is also convenient! Although owners Josh Lawson & James McDermott began the restaurant as fine dining, they soon decided to meet the market with a more casual dining experience, embracing their passion for wood-fired barbeque in true ‘low and slow’ American cooking tradition.
This is no casual affair with smoke, the guys taking out the title of 2015 Grand Champions at the Burleigh Heads regional BBQ championship. The legacy of fine dining remains, at least in the comfort level of the restaurant. But it’s the BBQ we’re interested in. With Josh busy in the kitchen, James gives us a tour of the smokers – one in the kitchen and the competition beast out back in the carpark.
BBQ features prominently on the restaurant’s menus, included in breakfast of eggs, toast and brioche burgers featuring ranch-style baked beans, pulled pork and smoked tomato chutney; lunch and dinner with burgers, mains and sides with daily specials – ribs, chicken, pork and beef, all smoked over ironbark to achieve that delicious BBQ flavour.
Dining on a Monday, we make the most of the night’s BBQ Banquet: wings, nachos and the chef’s selection of three meats – pulled pork, smoked beef brisket and a kransky with sides of beans, chips and slaw. It’s a massive tray of food for two and it beats us, even with a beer to cut through the smoky rich flavour.
“It’s not a banquet if it’s not too much,” James tells us laughing. We must remember to take a tribe next time, even if they’re rented!
It’s fitting that our final meal at Springfield takes place at the Lotus Café, situated in the ground floor of Springfield House. Perched high up on a ridge, it’s a light and breezy location under cover yet open air overlooking Greater Springfield – the Orion Shopping Centre, Robelle Domain and the Queensland headquarters of GE.
Offering ‘All day breakfast’, ‘All day lunch’ and ‘All day vegan’ there’s a definite health slant to the food, the menu clearly marked with symbols for gluten-free, refined sugar free, vegetarian and vegan.
We dine early on a simple egg and mushrooms on toast brekkie and an Açai bowl. Laden with super berry goodness, it’s served with house granola and seasonal fruit. Around us local workers are lining up for a Black Sheep coffee, having breakfast over their laptops and holding an out of office meeting.
Owner Jason Hayes, who owns the café with his wife Rosie, tells us that they moved to Springfield in 2004.
“It’s the best decision we ever made, to move to Springfield. Everything we need is here, so we hardly ever leave. There are bike tracks throughout the development and I have team training at Robelle Parklands. There’s heavy rail to Brisbane and it’s going to extend to Ripley (the next suburb).”
Above us are the offices of the Springfield Land Corporation, including its chairman Maha Sinnathamby. Spread out before us is General Springfield, Maha’s dream come true. With an award-winning golf course, state headquarters of Global Icon and GE, the Mater Private Hospital, the University of Southern Queensland, Orion Shopping Centre, train stations, 10 schools and 11 childcare centres the area is still growing rapidly.
“Education is the currency of the future, which cannot be stolen from its owner,” Maha Sinnathamby once said. There’s a lot of currency at Springfield!