Memories and mementos
Honey, I’m home! 7 reasons I love being back in Ipswich
Yes, it had been a long time between drinks for me and the good old ‘Swich. I wasn’t born here, but from the age of five until 21 I called it home sweet home. And then I was lured away by the bright lights of the big smoke and promises of an exhilarating career and fast-paced life.
I succumbed to the pressure, as so many of us do, and I turned my back on Ipswich for a good 20 years. Sure, I returned to visit my parents (and my beloved hairdresser, Jo!), but they were fleeting visits. I really wasn’t a good friend. I didn’t hang out with Ipswich. I didn’t buy her a coffee and talk about the old times. Bad friend.
Here I am, 20 years on, back in the ‘Swich and loving life! Ipswich didn’t just welcome me back with a sponge cake and a cup of tea; she put on the most spectacular cocktail party with French Champagne, canapés and all the trimmings. Honey, I’m home!
After losing Dad to cancer I knew it was time for this only child to come home to support Mum and give my two young kids the chance to spend as much time as possible with their Nonna. I was a little nervous about leaving our life in Brisbane and coming home, I’ll admit it. However, the karma fairy has already repaid this little family in spades.
We’ve enjoyed the ‘getting to know you’ time over the last few months. There are so many things to love about Ipswich, right? New things, old things, things I had taken for granted, things I had forgotten about. All. The. Things! Yes, Ipswich is a great town to visit, but it really is a phenomenal place to bring up a family too. Well done, Ipswich. You’ve really grown up. So, here are the top seven reasons why I love being back in the ‘Swich ….
1. The gorgeous homes and history
I was lucky enough to grow up in one of Ipswich’s most gorgeous Queenslanders; it was Dad’s life’s work, so I really do appreciate a beautiful old home. Thankfully, Ipswich is full of them! What a glorious way to spend a day, driving around Ipswich, checking out the beautiful old houses, the pubs, the schools, the churches, the Top of Town, even the cemetery … so much history in Ipswich.
And the good news is that if you’re thinking of making the move, you can snag your own dreamy Queenslander for a fraction of the price you’d pay in the big smoke. Winning!
2. It’s so easy to get around
Yes, it’s one of the many benefits of living in a smaller town … I can drop Grace to daycare and Hudson to school and be at a meeting in minutes flat! We feel like we have so much more time together as a family as our day isn’t wasted sitting in hideous traffic. So we’re certainly a far more relaxed family unit. That said, if you have to commute to Brisbane, it really is just down the road.
3. The phenomenal sense of community
Ipswich has got the ‘community’ thing well and truly sorted. Every weekend there’s something fun on! From the Ipswich Festival and Goodna Jacaranda Festival through to local sporting events, motorsport, food festivals, fun for the kids at the Ipswich Art Gallery, Ipswich Library and The Workshops Rail Museum, the thriving performing arts scene (we have been blown away by the calibre of shows and performers who grace the Ipswich Civic Centre’s stage) and local fundraisers.
There’s always something buzzing in Ipswich. And then there are the dance schools, the sporting teams, the scouting groups, the drama clubs …
4. The Excellent Schools
Yes, I’m a proud Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School Old Girl, and my son absolutely loves attending Ipswich Grammar School and has settled in nicely. Then there’s St Mary’s and St Edmonds, West Moreton Anglican College, and the list goes on. If you’re considering a move to Ipswich, it’s worth it for the high quality schools alone.
5. All. The. Parks.
There’s so much to do with a young family in Ipswich on the ‘parks and nature’ front. Queens Park is awesome, with so much fab play equipment and space for picnics. And if you haven’t been to the ‘free’, yes I said ‘free’ zoo (Ipswich Nature Centre), you should. Then there’s the amazing set up at Colleges Crossing at Chuwar (the best day out on the water), the River Heart Parklands, Orion Lagoon in Springfield and Denmark Hill (great for a bushwalk with the kids).
We cannot wait to check out Hardings Paddock which, we have on good authority, is an excellent option for affordable camping right on our back door step.
6. Food and drink
Back in my day, a night out consisted of an all-you-can-eat salad bar at Sizzler (where I proudly worked) and a boogie at Easy Street (yes, I’m showing my age). These days you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out. So many snazzy little cafes with quality caffeine – Fourthchild, Rafter & Rose and Ellen and Rod, just for starters.
And then there’s Heisenberg Haus – delicious German fare (one of the first local haunts we had to try), and we cannot wait for our next date night at the new The Cottage Restaurant and to head out to Ironbark Ridge Vineyard for a bit of vino sampling. But we already have a favourite local – The Pumpyard. The beer is cold, the food is delicious, and it’s a super relaxed atmosphere – perfect for a lazy Sunday arvo (even with the kids in tow). Honestly, none of this was around ‘back in my day’.
7. The Showground Flea Markets
And then there are the old Ipswich institutions, like the Showground Flea Market. I remember trawling the stalls with Dad when I was kid with my $2 pocket money, in search of a bargain looking for love and affection. My seven-year-old loves exploring with his pocket money too! I’ll never forget the day I bought a duckling without Dad’s permission.
Yes, an actual duckling. But that’s a story for another day. These days you can get pretty much anything at the flea market – from farm fresh produce through to plants, craft and all kinds of bric-a-brac. Ahhh the memories.
Honestly, there really is so much to love about being back in Ipswich. I could write a novel, truth be told. Ipswich, thanks for welcoming us back with open arms. We’re back for the long haul, and I promise to do my bit to make up for all those years of being a bad friend by taking on the role of proud ambassador. You deserve it.