School is out for the year and now is the perfect time to be adventurous and enjoy everything the summer holidays has to offer.
If you are craving sun soaked days full of perfect family memories, load up the car and head an hour west of Brisbane to the historic town of Ipswich, which is brimming with activities and tourist attractions the whole family will love.
From watching the sunrise while you soar high above the ground in a hot air balloon, to riding a camel, diving into the cool waters of a man-made lagoon, learning more about historic steam engines and licking delectable ice cream flavours, Ipswich is the perfect place for families to explore.
Here are a few of the top activities that need to be on your summer holiday checklist.
Take to the skies
Enjoy a bird’s eye view of Ipswich’s beautiful scenery with a gentle hot air balloon float these school holidays. Turn an ordinary day into a magical one you and the kids will never forget as you soar high above the ground with Floating Images Hot Air Balloon Flights. As the sun rises, guests will enjoy majestic 360-degree views of Ipswich, the Scenic Rim and Somerset countryside – a stunning view you are not likely to forget anytime soon, and one you will want to share with your loved ones on your social media stories.
Meet your childhood hero at the historic Workshops Rail Museum
Thomas the Tank Engine has long been a favourite television show for today’s children and those who watched it when Ringo Starr was the first narrator in the 1980s! Thomas will be steaming into The Workshops Rail Museum from December 27 – January 26 for a month of fun with The Fat Controller and his other friends! There will be lots of photo opportunities, craft activities and more for everyone of all ages to enjoy.
But that is not all to see at this award-winning museum! There are more than 15 larger-than-life exhibitions for visitors to explore, including Diesel Revolution, Might and Muscle, Model Railway, the Sciencentre and more. Plus, the onsite café is the perfect spot to enjoy morning or afternoon tea.
Meet and cuddle some of the city’s furriest and cutest residents
Animal lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to an array of wildlife and farmyard experiences that can only be found in and around Ipswich.
The Ipswich Nature Centre in Queens Park is an unmissable experience for any visitor to this great city, as it is home to more than 42 different species and 200 animals, including bilbies, dingoes, wallabies, a wombat, and also features a walk through bird aviary.
The Ipswich Nature Centre is the only free zoo in south east Queensland, so you and your family can stay as long as you like, or come back whenever you feel like seeing those cute little faces again. They are open seven days a week during the school holidays and even offer special animal encounters, where young ones can learn more about the animals with a special VIP walking tour.
Alternatively, if your kids love barnyard animals, there are a number of local farms which welcome visitors. Families can take a guided tour at Haigslea EWE NIQUE Hobby Farm, cuddle adorable little goats at Naughty Little Kids in Peak Crossing, take a llama for a walk at the Llama Farm in Pine Mountain, or ride a camel at Summer Land Camel Farm in nearby Harrisville.
The photos of you and your kids with these adorable animals is sure to light up your Facebook and Instagram pages.
Jump on your bikes and see Ipswich from a different perspective
If you and your family love to stay active, there are plenty of world-class biking trails just waiting for you to delve into:
The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail is a recreational cycling trail following the old line from Wulkuraka, near Ipswich, to Yarraman, west of Kilcoy. It’s all off-road and traffic free, offering big skies and scenic landscapes for riders of all ages to enjoy. One of the most popular tracks is the 20km trail from bustling Ipswich to the rural township of Fernvale. The trail features various surfaces, including sand, grass, gravel and rough stretches of rocky ballast. Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen as many parts of the track are exposed, and bring plenty of water, especially during the warmer months.
Or, if you are up for a challenge and want to activate your thrill seeker side, take the bikes to Hidden Vale Adventure Park, located near Grandchester. It features more than 130km of multi-use trails winding through a 12,000-acre property of bushland. If you are keen to explore the region but don’t have your own bike, you can hire one. There are lots of trails suitable for kids, which are labelled as the green tracks, and are open to the public every day except when there is a race event on. The park is open for a small fee, which gives you unlimited access to all the trails for the day, or annual memberships are also available. To access the trails, take the service entry next to Spicers Hidden Vale, where the park manager will greet you and offer you a map.
If you’re not feeling the pedal power, luckily there is a place where you can get your hearts pumping on trail bikes. Willowbank MX is one of Queensland’s premium motocross facilities, and has been professionally designed by industry leading professionals. Set on a 40-hectare parcel of land, the facility features a number of tracks available for people of all ages and abilities, including the Pee-wee track, Junior Stadium, Adult Stadium and MX Track. There is also a flat training area where beginners can practice and get a feel for the bike before heading out on one of the larger tracks.
Cool down at the Orion Lagoon and enjoy a dive-in movie
It is a well known fact that the temperature tends to creep a little higher in Ipswich compared to Brisbane, so the best place to cool off is to dive into the cool waters at the Orion Lagoon. Located opposite Orion Springfield Central, the lagoon is larger than the man-made Streets Beach in Brisbane’s South Bank, and features a number of interconnected pools with different depths, perfect for swimmers of all ages and abilities.
There is also an aquativity section with squirting spots and stepping stones, areas which replicate a walk-in beach, and shade sales to protect against the summer sun. Lifeguards patrol the lagoon for everyone’s safety from 5am-9pm over the long summer days.
Families can bring along their own refreshments, take advantage of the lagoon’s own cafe, or stroll to one of the many other nearby eateries for coffee, sandwiches and ice cream.
Spread out the picnic blanket at one of Ipswich’s great parks
Ipswich is renowned for its beautiful open spaces and adventure playgrounds. Grab out the picnic basket and fill it with your favourite goodies and head to one of these great parks:
Queens Park: With lots of picnic benches, open spaces to set up your own tables and chairs, and an epic playground for the kids to explore, you can easily spend a whole day here. Queens Park is also home to the Ipswich Nature Centre and Nerima Gardens.
Colleges Crossing Recreation Reserve: The playground features a fort, climbing rock, musical wall, swings, a fun sway boat, balancing beams, spinning seats, tree log tunnel, stepping stones and more. Families can also bring their own balls or sporting equipment for larger games.
Lobley Park: This aviation themed park has long been popular with families and group gatherings, especially those who loves planes. The main attraction of the park is a replica RAAF cargo plane with its own mock cockpit. There’s also an air-traffic control tower with an x-ray machine and radar screen, to alert the budding young pilots which way to fly. The great pathways also allow children to freely ride their own scooters or bikes.
Bob Gamble Park: Located inside River Heart Parklands, Bob Gamble Park is a crowd pleaser for the young, and those who are young at heart. It features a zero-depth water park, climbing spider, a 25m flying fox, swings and more. Visitors can also go on a short stroll through the Discovery Forest, where they can test out their balance on the beams, protect the fort, and more.
Robelle Domain: Discover Springfield’s hidden waterfalls, rainforest walks, bike tracks, splash and play area, playgrounds, open fields and more at Robelle Domain.
Seraphim Escape Rooms
If your children love solving puzzles, then why not let them unleash their inner detective at Seraphim Escape Rooms. Working together as part of a team, the kids will enter a specially designed themed room where they will need to put their head together to find the clues, solve the puzzles, and unlock the door in a certain time frame. This activity is perfect for children that are a little older and love a good challenge. Prices start at $45 per person for two people, or $30 per person for a group of six.
Test your flying skills at the Ipswich Art Gallery
If you are looking to beat the heat and enjoy some fun in air-conditioning, head to the Ipswich Art Gallery to see the Wind Tubes exhibition. Wind Tubes has been a popular event at the gallery for some years, as this hands-on exhibition allows children the opportunity to create and build their own flying creation out of everyday materials and launch it into the large, vertical tubes of moving air. Will their creation take flight and soar to the ceiling, or create some mid-air mayhem? You will have to see for yourself when you visit. The exhibition is on show until February 7, 2021.
Let the kids be creative and unleash their inner artist
If your kids love to be paint, draw or make their own unique items, be sure to have a look at Sip ‘n’ Dip Australia’s wide range of school holiday boredom busting workshops. With plenty of classes held weekly, there are a plethora of activities for your kids to try a new skill, or expand on the knowledge they already have in their chosen passion. Some of the workshops include mini mess classes, making your own photo frames, gift tags and more. Be sure to book in early, as these classes are extremely popular.
Taste gourmet, hand-crafted ice cream all made with local ingredients
With more than 17 different flavours to choose from, you will want more than one scoop when you stop by Ungermann Brothers ice cream parlor. Some of the delectable ice cream flavours include triple chocolate, lavender and honeycomb, liquorice and fennel, and my favourite, salted caramel, bacon and pecan.
Take the kids to a mega playground and Timezone
Eat a meal at Ipswich’s best kid-friendly restaurants and cafes
All that adventure is sure to leave a rumble in your tummy, and thankfully there are lots of great eateries for families and foodies to enjoy.