Things to do
Ipswich for Under $20
I just love the ‘honeymoon’ period that follows when you move, especially when you relocate to a completely new town like we did when we returned to Ipswich earlier this year. Admittedly, it wasn’t a completely ‘new town’ for me, given that I lived in Ipswich from the age of five to 21 and visited my parents often, before returning to live some 20 years later, but there was still a lot of ‘getting to know you’ work to be done.
And my little family just loves rediscovering Ipswich and we’re having a ball! There’s so much to do and see, especially if, like us, you have a young family and budget is important. So we set ourselves a challenge to find seven things to do as a family for less than $20, and we were pleasantly surprised.
A picnic at College’s Crossing
Speaking of good, wholesome fun, I have such lovely memories of swimming at College’s Crossing when I was a wee kid. We’d often head out to Chuwar with lunch and our togs to cool off. Newsflash – College’s Crossing got fancy! The recent redevelopment is spectacular – there’s a café and whiz bang play area for the kids.
You can also head down to the river bank and have a paddle with the ducks and use the pathways for some serious bike riding, as we recently did. On the way we dropped into our favourite bakery, Robbo’s at North Ipswich (there’s also one in Karalee) and picked up a selection of sweet slices (OMG the French Vanilla slice is to die for!) and a couple of sausage rolls (big enough to be shared) before heading out for the afternoon.
A picnic and a day at College’s Crossing enjoying some good, old-fashioned fun (for us that meant throwing rocks in the river and bike riding) came in under $20.
Tivoli Drive-In – the best!
By far my absolute favourite thing to do with the kids on a Saturday night is pack a picnic and head to the Tivoli Drive-In at Chuwar. Gates open at 4pm, and during summer the double feature kicks off at 7pm, with two excellent movies on offer each and every weekend. There’s a play area complete with jumping castle for the kids, a mini market, a café, and even room to kick a ball.
How much would you expect to pay for such a beautiful old-school family experience? Just $10 per car. Yes, that’s what I said, just $10. Bargain, right? Especially if you bring your own chow. It’s the best night out. Good, wholesome fun.
Check out the animals at Ipswich Nature Centre
Who doesn’t love a zoo, especially when it’s free?! Well, almost free. Visitors to the Ipswich Nature Centre are asked to make a gold coin donation on entry, which is a small price to pay for the experience. Importantly, it’s completely pram and wheelchair-friendly, thanks to the timber boardwalk which loops you around the entire mini zoo.
So many gorgeous animals to take in, from kangaroos to snakes to emus and even a petting zoo with all the farmyard favourites (my kids especially adore the wombats and the divine peacock, his tail has to be seen to be believed!). And as the Nature Centre is located smack bang in the middle of Queens Park, you can hit the slides and swings afterwards (take a picnic or check out the café).
Take in a flick!
Yes, it’s hot. Summer is definitely upon us and as parents we also have the ‘I’m bored’ routine to contend with over school holidays. Sigh. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to while away a few hours in icy cold air-conditioning, head to one of the city’s two local cinemas and take in a movie with the family! Both the Birch Carroll and Coyle and Limestone Cinemas have special pricing on Tuesdays (starting from $5) making it super affordable to take the entire clan to the movies.
A quiet drink at the Pumpyard
Okay, so admittedly this activity is more about making the most of some rare Mummy and Daddy time than wholesome family fun (whoops!), but what better way to reconnect with your significant other than over an icy cold drink at the Pumpyard? Hubby and I have managed to sneak away (thanks Nonna) on a couple of occasions for a schooner of locally brewed 4 Hearts Brewing pal ale (him) and a glass of bubbles (me).
And if you’re willing to sneak over that $20 budget just a bit, we can recommend the tapas menu, especially the sweet potato fries with lime and chilli salt and aioli. Nom nom nom!
RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Museum
We’re a bit of an aviation-mad family (well, my boys are as hubby is a qualified pilot) so I simply had to add the RAAF Aviation Museum in Amberley to the must visit list! Now, we haven’t actually made it to the museum as yet as it has restricted opening hours (it’s only open on the third Sunday of each month and there’s an application process as up to 1000 people attend each open day!). We definitely intend on heading out to the RAAF base in 2017 for our fill of aviation history.
Think every kind of RAAF aircraft (the displays change often), planes in various stages of restoration, engines, war time memorabilia, medals and the list goes on. Admission is free but donations are gratefully received, and there’s a souvenir shop for fellow plan nuts. We might see you there!
Hit the Food Fiesta
You’ve probably picked up a theme, yes, we love to eat! So it’s no surprise that our very last highly recommended activity revolves around food. If you haven’t experienced the Ipswich CBD Food Fair in the Ipswich City Mall you totally should! It’s a must-do, and is workable around any budget as there are so many meal options and so many things to do that don’t cost a motsa.
Throw your kids on the jumping castle, check out the arts and crafts area, grab a bite to eat from one of the many food vans and listen to some live music, it’s a really fabulous way to spend a Saturday afternoon or evening. The Ipswich CBD Food Fair is held on the last Saturday of every month from 4pm.
So much to do in Ipswich – my little family absolutely love being back and we can’t wait to share our next adventure with you!