How to escape to nature in Ipswich

Spend some time surrounded by trees, clean country air and rustling leaves on a weekend nature escape.
27 Apr 2022
Discover Ipswich, Staff Writer

There are many ways you can enjoy the great outdoors in Ipswich, with the region home to over 6500 hectares of reserves and conservation estates there’s plenty of hiking, biking and bird watching options available.

Here are the best ways to immerse yourself in nature in the Ipswich region…

Hiking and camping

Flinders-Peak-high-res

Hiking at Flinders Peak is the ultimate challenge.  The track up the 679m tall peak is recommended for advanced hikers, in case you’re wondering to put it into perspective, Flinders Peak is higher than the Glasshouse Mountains. 

If you’re planning on taking on this challenge get here early, just after the sun rises to make the most of the cooler hours as you’ll need at least six hours to get up and back down again.  But it will all be worth it as you see spectacular views of craggy peaks, the Bremer River catchment and the Scenic Rim.  Look out for brush-tailed rock wallabies, peregrine falcons and wedge-tailed eagles.

You can stay in the Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate at a rustic nature-based bush camp called Hardings Paddock.  There’s no running water on site, but there are cubicles for you to bring a camp shower and bush toilets as well as barbeque facilities.

There’s only eight sites available to book so it’s usually pretty quiet, stretch out under a tree or roll out the yoga mat and take in the fresh air.

There are some shorter hikes and great biking trails that you can take straight from the camp and you can also bring your horse if riding is more your cup of tea and make use of the horse holding yards!

If you like the idea of camping but want more of a luxury experience, book a spot at Ivory’s Rock, not far from the start of the Flinders Peak hiking track, they’ve got private bathrooms and powered sites and even simple cabins you can book. 

Canoe trails

Canoe trails in Ipswich

Take a drive from your camping spot to a spot along the Brisbane and Bremer rivers to launch the canoe for the day.  Don’t forget the fishing rod either as these places are sure to land a bite or two.

Joseph Brady Park sits on the junction of the Bremer and Brisbane Rivers; it is deep enough for boats and fishing.  The park has a playground for the kids too and ample space for a picnic rug.

Colleges Crossing is a tranquil piece of the Brisbane River with boat ramp access and water that isn’t too deep.  There’s also plenty of places for a picnic and barbeque facilities.

Burton’s Bridge, also on the Brisbane River is serene and a great place to cast a lure, float in the kayak or splash in the shallows.  There’s also an adventurous 21km paddle trail all the way down to Kholo if you’re up for it.

Cribb Park and Shapcott Park are both located in the Ipswich CBD and provide access to the Bremer River allowing you to do some sightseeing on your canoe trail.

*Note some access to parks is unavailable as flood restoration continues

Mountain Biking

HVAP

If two wheeled fun is your idea of a great weekend away there’s plenty of options for you with 196km of biking trails in the city.  The top of the list would have to be the Hidden Vale Adventure Park (HVAP) which has more than 110km of world class hiking and biking trails.

You can also stay next door at Spicers Hidden Vale retreat or at cabins along the trails at HVAP.

You can mountain bike at many of the reserves in Ipswich, including Flinders-Goolman and White Rock – Spring Mountain Conservation Estates, and along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.  There’s also two MTB parks you can visit in Ipswich, Castle Hill Blackstone Reserve and Hillview Drive with tracks of varying difficulty.

Another accommodation option which fits the nature theme is Keira Farm, which has camping and glamping and also a cottage you can stay in with an outdoor bath to soak away any aches and strains.

Bird Watching

Bird watching in Ipswich

Head out for some bird watching and hiking at the White Rock – Spring Mountain Conservation Estate.  There’s a 6.5km hike to the base of White Rock and back and a more challenging 19km circuit.  As per cultural protocol however, the Traditional Owners have requested no one climbs White Rock. Look closely to see the spotted quail-thrush searching leaf litter for insects and seeds, spotted pardalotes and rainbow bee-eaters – 138 species have been found in the estate.

Ipswich is also the start of the 161km Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.  You can hike or bike the trail, an easy day trip is the 22km section from Ipswich to Fernvale, leave time to stop at the Old Fernvale Bakery for refreshments, before heading back.  More than 40 bird species have been recorded along here including Australian wood ducks, rainbow lorikeets, eastern yellow robins and more.

Kholo Gardens is a treasure trove for bird watchers with more than a hundred species found here.  See darters, cormorants, kingfishers, ospreys and more.

Another great place for bird watching is the Purga Nature Reserve. An easy 350-500m walk with seating available.  You’ll see native herbs, wildflowers, birds and sometimes kangaroos, koalas and echidnas.

There is also a great place in the Ipswich CBD for birdwatching – Denmark Hill Conservation Reserve.  There’s 54 different species found here including Australian king parrots, rainbow lorikeets and pale-headed rosellas.

Discover Ipswich Staff Writer
Rocky the Rock Wallaby is a Sagittarius who lives at the Ipswich Nature Centre and often contributes to Discover Ipswich in his spare time. When he's not busy showing tourists around, blogging or hanging out with his cute and fluffy mates at the Nature Centre, he likes to hit the gym for a leg session, graze on quinoa salad and ponder the possibilities of the universe.

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