One of Ipswich’s best-kept secrets is its spectacular sunsets and picture-perfect panoramas. You can drink in a view of Ipswich from the clouds, by heading up in a hot air balloon or helicopter. But if you’d rather not get airborne, there are other ways to enjoy the scenery – say, by hiking to the top of local landmarks like Flinders Peak. Short on time or energy? A little less exertion will propel you towards rewarding CBD views, such as those found at the top of the Denmark Hill Water Tower. Alternatively, pull up a chair at one of the district’s out-of-the-way restaurants which offer special views.
An early morning journey with Floating Images Hot Air Balloon Flights offers a hard-to-beat bird’s eye view of the heritage city and surrounding region. From 2400 feet, it’s easy to pick out highlights that might otherwise have stayed hidden.
Some of the things you’ll see include sunrise creeping over the fog-shrouded Bremer and Brisbane Rivers, farmers’ fields laid out like patchwork quilts and, framing it all, the distant peaks of the Great Dividing Range, and McPherson and D’Aguilar ranges.
Owner and pilot Graeme Day trained in France nearly 30 years ago and has spent the last 19 years sharing his dreamy vantage point overlooking the Ipswich, Scenic Rim and Somerset regions.
Who needs a drone when you’ve got a helicopter?
Pterodactyl Helicopters offers what it describes as “short, sweet and unforgettable” scenic flights over Ipswich, as well as others which hone in on local landmarks like Flinders Peak, the highest mountain in the greater Brisbane area and part of the Teviot Range.
Hugely popular also are lunch flights to locations such as Homage restaurant in Spicers Hidden Vale – where arriving by chopper offers a certain cachet. Pterodactyl Helicopters are proof positive that it’s as much about the journey as the destination.
Flinders Peak, taller than the Sunshine Coast’s Glass House Mountains, makes for a challenging hike.
Be prepared for steep inclines, a lot of rock scrambling, cliff edges and a section known as The Chimney which is close to a vertical rock climb. (While there are lots of footholds and handholds, this is not one to attempt in wet weather.)
From the top, there are spectacular views, accompanied by the rhythmic calls of cicadas. Even if you don’t make it to the summit, there are plenty of rewarding lookouts along the way.
Flinders Peak is such a defining feature of the region that there’s a representation of it within Nerima Gardens at Queens Park. Other climbs within the Ipswich region include Mt Goolman and Mt Blaine.
There’s plenty to see at Queens Park – from the native animals scampering around the Ipswich Nature Centre to the sculpted gardens, lanterns and tea house within Nerima Gardens. But something else to add to your list, which just happens to be one of Ipswich’s best kept secrets, is the view available from Lions Lookout.
Follow the path up from the Visitor Information Centre to the rotunda on the hilltop to survey the CBD, with the surrounding mountain ranges as a backdrop. Cunningham’s Gap is also visible from this vantage point and, with its many hiking trails, might serve as inspiration for those who conquered Flinders Peak or Mts Goolman and Blaine. Sunset is the best time to visit the lookout.
In 2018, after a fire destroyed the historical homestead and restaurant at Spicers Hidden Vale, executive chef Ash Martin and his wife moved into a barn which was left standing on the 12,000-acre cattle property to await the rebuild.
Homage Restaurant reappeared in 2020, displaying all its signature strengths, including locally grown produce and traditional cooking methods.
Regular guests to this Grandchester hideout know there’s another very special side order on the menu here – the tranquil views from the deck out over the infinity pool to the rolling hills beyond, making Homage a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.
Denmark Hill Water Tower
Although it is closed at the moment, the water tower is still worthy of noting, for when it re-opens…The five-storey staircase climb is all that stands between you and a platform offering panoramic views of Ipswich and, on a clear day, the Brisbane skyline.
Seeking a less breathless alternative? Pull up a public bench out the front of the tower, or simply go for a stroll along Chelmsford Avenue. You won’t get quite the same top-of-the-world feeling, but you’ll be in prime position to check out some of the historic homes down Murphy and neighbouring streets.