Discover Ipswich’s rich military history

Spend the day exploring exhibits, collections and memorials that link Ipswich to it's military history...
27 Jun 2023
Ashleigh Howarth, Freelance writer

Home to the largest Royal Australian Air Force Base, RAAF Amberley, Ipswich has a proud and long-standing military history.

It’s not uncommon to hear the roar of the military jets and the cargo planes as they take off from Amberley and complete their training exercises above the skies of Ipswich, which is a spectacular sight for visitors and locals.

Whether you are a plane and military enthusiast, or a genuine history buff, here are some of the best spots in the city to learn more about Ipswich’s rich military history. 

RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre

RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre

Visitors will be amazed and inspired by the collection of military aircraft and memorabilia on display at the RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre.

Visitors will have the chance to see a wide array of retired military aircraft up close while learning about past conflicts and battles.

One of the most popular displays is the retired F-111, which many Queenslanders will fondly remember as the star of many Riverfire nights for its iconic dump and burn over the city of Brisbane.

There are 13 impressive aircraft on display in the hangars including a Sikorsky S70-A9 Blackhawk, CAC Boomerang, Douglas A20G Havoc, Canberra Bomber, Douglas Dakota C-47B and a Sabre fighter aircraft.

Not only does the heritage centre have a large range of aircraft from years gone by, but there is also a variety of special collections for visitors to study. These include a full range of WWII vehicles, restored engines, weapons, medals, modules, Women in the Airforce and more.

The heritage centre is open to the public on the third Sunday of each month (January to November). It is free to attend, but due to it being located on an active air base, pre-registration is essential to meet all base security access requirements.

Ipswich Soldiers Memorial Hall Museum

Ipswich Soldiers Memorial Hall

Ipswich’s Soldiers Memorial Hall is a heritage-listed building which opened in 1921.

The building is located in the Ipswich CBD opposite the Civic Centre and is the current home of the Ipswich RSL Sub-Branch.

A 25-pounder field gun is proudly displayed out the front of the memorial and is a striking visual for visitors and passer-byers.

Upon entering the building, you will see the crypt and honour boards with the names of Ipswich’s brave soldiers who fought in battle.

The museum houses countless war stories from many of Ipswich’s bravest residents spread across two levels.

Inside the museum you will find original paintings commemorating the Light Horse, handmade postcards from WWI, several diaries of soldiers from WWII, photographs, large memorial stained-glass window, military uniforms and other memorabilia.

The museum is open on the last Sunday of the month (excluding December) from 9am-3pm.

It is free to attend. Guided tours are also available. 

Ipswich Rail War Memorial

The memorial at The Workshops Rail Museum

Located inside The Workshops Rail Museum at North Ipswich is a memorial dedicated to the Ipswich Railway Workshops’ employees who served in World War I.

More than 300 men who were employed at The Workshops enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, but sadly, 31 did not return home.

The memorial was built in 1919 and was paid for by The Workshops employees, who raised £1400.

If you would like to see the memorial, you will need to pay the entrance fee at The Workshops Rail Museum, but with The Workshops being one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city, it’s well worth exploring for a few hours. 

Lobley Park

Kids who dream of becoming pilots, will love Lobley Park in Churchill.

The park features a large plane resembling a RAAF cargo plane with its own cockpit, as well as a nearby air-traffic control tower with x-ray machine and radar screen.

There are also bike pathways painted like clouds, that give the illusion of flying high in the sky.

The park is perfect for kids to run around in or ride their bikes and scooters. There are also electric barbecue areas, great for cooking lunch or a snack.

And you might even get a glimpse of the jets and cargo planes from the nearby RAAF Base, who regularly train above the skies of Ipswich. 

Ipswich Jets Leagues Club

Jets Leagues Club

​If you’re famished after all that exploring, and want to keep in with the theme, head to the Ipswich Jets Leagues Club in North Ipswich.

Aligned with the Ipswich Jets Rugby League Football Club, their name represents the military jets that fly in and out of Amberley.

The club is housed in a historic building built in 1887, with the restaurant serving up an array of mouthwatering starters, steaks, pasta, seafood, burgers, roasts, kids’ meals and desserts.

Ashleigh Howarth Freelance writer
Ashleigh Howarth is a journalist with more than 12 years experience in the media industry. Her passions include travelling, dessert bars, cocktails and attending music concerts. She aims to inspire others to unlock their own sense of wanderlust to explore this beautiful big world, whether that be on a local or more global scale. You can keep up to date with her stories by following @journo_ash_ on Instagram.

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