Exploring Ipswich’s rich heritage
Tales of yesteryear present themselves in myriad ways around the heritage city of Ipswich. Here are a few places to let the exploring begin!
Ipswich Art Gallery
There’s a Joseph Fowles painting upstairs in the Ipswich Art Gallery. The painting is of a gleaming race horse that won a noted Ipswich race back in 1861. With princely prize money of 1000 gold sovereigns on offer, this was the richest racing event in the nation at the time. Surpassing even that famed Melbourne two miles that would go on to stop the nation for decades to follow. It’s a glimpse back to a boom time for the city of Ipswich with its growing rail and coal mining industries. Today, the art gallery has many fascinating pieces and paintings in its heritage collection. Each piece telling different tales from bygone eras.
Great Houses of Ipswich
Today, grand colonial homes stand testament to those booming times in the coal mining, rail-building city. The city was at one stage destined to become the state’s capital. The homes are among the city’s 7000 heritage-listed landmarks.
Three significant Ipswich homes will be opened to the public on May 11, 2019 through the National Trust event, Great Houses of Ipswich. It’s a chance to step inside these privately owned houses and be immersed in the history that helped shape the city.
Cooneana Heritage Centre
To delve more into Ipswich’s past, Cooneana Heritage Centre in the Ipswich suburb of New Chum is worth a visit. Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and the second and fourth Sundays of each month (March to November) from 10am to 2pm. The centre houses a museum of local history including a restored historic worker’s cottage, Jim Donald House. Cooneana is the home of the Ipswich Historical Society including a ‘Mining Group’ and ‘Spinners and Weavers’ and associated groups. Additionally, the Historic Motor Cycle Club, Ipswich Genealogical Society; Queensland Metal Artisans Collective and Blacksmith’s Forge. Take a picnic and make a day of it in the grounds around the various old buildings here.
Near the Ipswich border with Brisbane is another historic site – Wolston Farmhouse. Located at Wacol, it’s a convenient stopping point for day trippers heading to or from Brisbane. The building, originally constructed in the 1850s, is one of the few remaining nineteenth century farmhouses in the wider region. Its various rooms have been restored and furnished in the heritage style they would have been a century ago.
Wolston Farmhouse is open Friday to Sunday from 10am to 2pm and there’s a café on site. Orange cake is a specialty on the breezy tea terrace.
The Workshops Rail Museum occupies a fantastic historic site that was once the workplace of more than 3000 railway workers. You’ll see restored locomotives and carriages and a miniature model replica of the Queensland rail network. There are also striking exhibits immersed in the romance and history of rail.
You can take a ride too, with the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway which runs regular weekend trips. There are ‘picnic train,’ ‘market train’ and ‘dinner train’ rides available, as well as special themed trips throughout the year.
Brisbane Street, Ipswich, 1905 – from the Ipswich Art Gallery heritage collection