Explore the past with heritage buildings, tours and collectables

Find out how you can explore the past by visiting grand buildings, taking a tour or picking up a piece of history to take home...
14 Feb 2023
Ashleigh Howarth, Freelance writer

As one of Queensland’s oldest cities, Ipswich features a stunning array of preserved buildings and parklands just waiting to be explored and admired.

Start your journey back in time at the Cooneana Heritage Centre, as it showcases what life was like before modern technology. Run by the Ipswich Historical Society, you will find a range of properties that date back generations, including a miner’s cottage from the 1800s. Visitors can also peruse the coal mining displays, videos and artefacts, and witness traditional crafts such as blacksmithing.

Another fantastic historical attraction is The Workshops Rail Museum in North Ipswich. This is the birthplace of Queensland’s rail history, with more than 200 steam locomotives built here. Many of the original structures like the Timekeepers’ Building and the old boiler shop are still standing. In 2002 the site was transformed into a rail museum with 15 permanent exhibitions, and now a Sciencentre. Families can discover full-size locomotive train engines and carriages, a model railway and enjoy the many hands-on activities.

As you head into the heart of Ipswich, drop by Queensland’s oldest park. Queens Park was first surveyed in 1842 and has remained a popular spot for families. Today, you will find the Queens Park Café and the Ipswich Nature Centre.

On the edge of Queens Park is the Incinerator Theatre. The Incinerator was originally used to burn waste in the 1930s, but it was converted into a theatre, which is now used by Ipswich Little Theatre to regularly perform plays.

In the Top of Town precinct, you will find more buildings that have stood the test of time from the mid 1800s and early 1900s. All offer a glimpse into a bygone era when people would come to town on a horse and buggy.

Highlights along Brisbane Street include the Old Flour Mill, which has undergone many transformations since 1901 when it housed the Ipswich Flour Milling Company, as well as the historic Post and Telegraph Office. Many of Ipswich’s tastiest cafes and restaurants can also be found along this street.

88 Limestone Street

The old TAFE College building is just a short stroll away on the corner of Limestone and Ellenborough Streets. This former technical college has been a landmark for more than 100 years, but today you won’t find any classrooms – rather an exciting dining precinct that is home to the Pumpyard Bar and Brewery.

If you’re keen to take a piece of history home with you, swing by The Vintage Advantage and Ipswich Antique Centre – both full of furniture, homewares and artwork. 

The region is also home to some charming churches. St Paul’s Anglican Church, located on Brisbane St, is the city’s oldest church. In nearby Woodend are the towering spires that belong to St Mary’s Catholic Church. It was built in 1876 and features an Italian design. Both churches welcome the public.

Vintage Advantage

A unique way to uncover the past is by joining a ghost tour. Historian Jack Sim operates tours in the Ipswich CBD, and Ipswich and Goodna cemeteries. During these tours you will hear stories of restless residents in haunted houses and visit forgotten graves.

Lastly, one of the region’s impressive buildings is Woodlands of Marburg, just a short drive from the CBD. This plantation-style mansion was built in 1889 but has been renovated to feature accommodation and dining options. There is also a 19th Century chapel on site which is popular for weddings.

Woodlands of Marburg at night
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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