With the focus firmly on exploring our own backyards, everything old is new again, particularly when it comes to the Ipswich region.
Forget what you thought you knew about Ipswich! This city is in the centre of a sparkling region of local treats that deserve to be discovered with new eyes.
Pop yourself in the car and head up the Ipswich motorway. Start hungry because there are plenty of great eats to enjoy along the way, including these top six stops.
Pumpyard Bar and Brewery
It’s called the Pumpyard Bar and Brewery because Ipswich’s original water source is located under the former Technical College which was built in 1901. Now it’s more about pumping beer through the huge shiny vats that fill the industrial style brewery space.
As an infrequent beer drinker, I was fond of Pumpyard’s 3.5% Super Model Pale Ale, which has tropical fruit hints.
You might go for something with a little more body like the 7% Kickback Red IPA or the Coal Miners Stout which gives you a 5.5% hit plus hints of chocolate and coffee.
I promised you food and Pumpyard delivers with a tasty burger menu and more from head chef Shawn Breen. Shawn escaped from New York and has worked across the USA and Australia before calling Ipswich home. It’s simple, tasty food here with a tang of Southern American BBQ and the hug of classic comfort foods like chicken parmi, pizza and loaded dogs.
My pick is the blast from the past deep-fried camembert wedges with cracked pepper cranberry sauce.
You’ll find Pumpyard in the heart of Ipswich at 88 Limestone Street.
Drawing its name from the former Technical College’s woodworking links, Dovetails serves an Australian bush food-themed menu. Highlights that include crocodile tail and lemon myrtle squid.
Expect bunya bunya pesto with your gnocchi, rosella jam with the confit duck and green ant gin in the mango pannacotta. It’s a menu designed to surprise and delight with a raft of delicious meat cuts to browse too.
Find Dovetails next door to Pumpyard. When the weather is warm, dine under the trees on the deck for an atmospheric evening.
Ungermann Brothers Gourmet Ice Cream
There’s no way I could come at roasted garlic ice cream. That’s just wrong, wrong, wrong! But Blue Cheese and Fig or Salted Caramel, Bacon and Pecan – be still my beating heart!
If there is one thing that is certain about the flavours here, it is that they are polarising.
For those who prefer traditional tastes, there are classics such as triple chocolate and vanilla bean. But if you want to live on the wild side, let yourself be tempted by Lavender and Honeycomb or Liquorice and Fennel.
The speciality ice creams are all made in house, and there are rows of Kitchen Aids to prove it. Buy them by the scoop or try one of their decadent desserts which include an ice cream sandwich.
This is definitely a place where you need to visit multiple times and work your way through your top choices.
Ungermann’s located in the same precinct as Dovetails and Pumpyard so do yourself a favour and have a triple experience.
Homage Restaurant at Spicers Hidden Vale
When only the best will do, Homage Restaurant at Spicers Hidden Vale is the perfect destination dining location. You’ll spend about 40 minutes driving on relaxed country roads via Rosewood to get to Homage which has plenty of foodie cred.
If the two Chef hats don’t convince you, just take a wander through the vegetable garden, orchard and around the beehives to the smokehouse and preserving room. Chef Ash Martin is passionate about his paddock to plate stance, and this restaurant does not compromise on quality.
Reborn from the ashes of a devastating fire two years ago, the recreated homestead building that houses Homage offers outstanding views over the countryside. It’s almost enough to drag your eyes away from what’s on your plate but not quite. Especially when the aroma of the coal-roasted pork reaches out and grabs your tastebuds or the luscious lemon tart with its crisp pastry top dances before your vision.
Settle in for a long lunch in the welcoming lodge atmosphere and think about staying the night. What could be better than waking up for breakfast with those views?
Queens Park Café
Set in the heart of Queens Park, this café seats around 200 people, so there’s plenty of room for those looking for breakfast or a light lunch.
It’s the perfect spot to start, finish or break your exploration of Queens Park. There is plenty to see here, including a wildlife centre with gold coin admission and a peaceful Japanese garden.
The menu focusses on local suppliers offering modern Australian cuisine with all your café favourites.
Find the Queens Park Cafe on Merle Finimore Avenue in Queens Park.
Rafter & Rose
I do love a good piece of cake, and it’s hard to walk past Rafter & Rose when cake is on my mind.
This quirky little café is hidden off Ellenborough Street in the city centre. It’s a long and narrow space with so much cute décor to occupy your eyes, but they will be front and centre when you spy the cake cabinet. The coffee is excellent too.
That’s a wrap
There is much more to explore in and around Ipswich, but I’ll finish my list while your stretchy pants still fit.
Do go and explore and share your experience. I would love to hear which dishes you enjoyed the most.