Meet Ipswich’s cutest and fluffiest residents at the Ipswich Nature Centre

Here's a handful of reasons why you should put visiting the Ipswich Nature Centre on your to do list.
09 Jan 2021
Ashleigh Howarth, Freelance writer

Nestled inside the beautiful Queen’s Park is the jewel in Ipswich’s crown – The Ipswich Nature Centre.

Home to some of the city’s cutest and fluffiest residents, the Ipswich Nature Centre is a safe haven for a wide range of Australian wildlife.

As animal lovers make their way through the lush landscape gardens and exhibits, they can’t help but say “aww” when they see the cuddly wombat, or watch the pair of energetic dingoes that love to play and climb together.

Here are three reasons why the Ipswich Nature Centre should be added to your itinerary next time you visit the heritage city.

It’s free to visit

Ipswich Nature Centre

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.

However, if you are feeling generous, a gold coin donation is appreciated by the centre’s nature rangers, as all donations will be used to care for the animals and for improvements to be made at the centre in the future.

The bilby breeding program


Some of the cutest creatures at the Ipswich Nature Centre are the bilbies, and when you visit, you can have a close up look at this magnificent animal inside the world class bilby breeding enclosure.

The enclosure is a nocturnal house that turns day to night so visitors can see the bilbies when they are most active. It is a large size and a lot of thought has gone into ensuring it looks like a bilby burrow so they can have an amazing home.

You might also be able to spot a baby bilby, as there have been several born over the years.

Did you know the bilby is the only Australian animal with an official gazetted day of celebration! Their survival is incredibly important, because as a flagship species, they also keep many other threatened species alive.

You can meet the animals on a more personal level

Ipswich Nature Centre

One of the great activities offered by the Ipswich Nature Centre is its VIP Animal Encounters program.  Visitors can enjoy an up close and personal encounter with the animals, learn about the important work the rangers do to support the bilbies, discover what goes into caring for the wildlife, see the keepers doing their rounds, meet the lovable barnyard animals, and get to know every creature on a first name basis.  The tour includes lunch at The Prince Alfred Hotel afterwards.

Below are just a few of the charming animals you can say “hello” to.

Meet Moose and Lola


When you meet adorable dingoes Moose and Lola, you will often see them chasing each other around their yard, or playing in the pond. The pair love being together and are always up for some fun.

Moose can sometimes be more of a rascal than Lola. Moose likes to push the boundaries and get the keepers nice and dirty with his muddy paws.

Here’s a fun fact – Dingoes can weigh anywhere between 10-24kgs.

Say hi to Dusty

It’s a well-known fact that wombats can sometimes be bossy, and that is certainly the case with the Nature Centre’s resident wombat, Dusty.

He likes to boss the keepers around so he can stay extra comfy and well fed.

Being nocturnal, Dusty loves to curl up in his special burrow and sleep throughout the day, but when the sun goes down, he stays busy by exploring and digging lots of holes in his enclosure.

His favourite toy to play with is a gym ball!

Did you know that joeys can live inside their mother’s pouch for 9-10 months, and they are born hairless and weighing only half a gram!

Wave to Hemu

Hemu the emu

Whether you visited the nature park 20 years ago or last year, chances are you would have definitely seen Hemu, the large inquisitive emu.

He has lived at the Ipswich Nature Centre longer than any other animal, and is so comfortable there that he doesn’t plan on ever leaving.

He is good mates with the keepers and loves a good pat.

His favourite foods in the whole world are grapes and peas.

I bet you didn’t know this – a male and female pair up for five months to court, nest and lay eggs. After laying her eggs, the female emu will leave and then it is up to the male to incubate and care for the chicks after they have hatched!

See if you can spot Malakai

Ipswich Nature Centre | Quoll

You will have to keep a close eye on Malakai the spotted tail quoll, as he is very smart and likes to use up his abundance of energy by darting around his home at a quick pace.

When Malakai isn’t testing his mind with one of the many toys supplied by his keepers, like finding hidden food in branches, he can often be found sunbaking during the cooler months.

His favourite foods are rats and crickets.

Here is something for you to remember – The spotted tail quolls breeds between April and July, with an average littler size of five babies. Then, at the age of 18 weeks the babies become independent from their mothers.

But that’s not all you will see at the Ipswich Nature Centre – You will also see red legged pademelons, red-tailed black cockatoos, as well as lorikeets, rosellas and doves in the aviary, pythons, frilled-neck lizards and blue-tongued lizards, eastern grey kangaroos, brush-tailed rock wallabies, black swans, ducks, farmyard animals and much more!

Visitors love the Ipswich Nature Centre!

Ipswich Nature Centre. Photo: Brisbane Family Explorers

I have visited the Ipswich Nature Centre plenty of times myself, and absolutely love it. But don’t just take my word for it – Recently I took some of my family from Brisbane on a day trip to Ipswich so they could visit the place I have spoken so fondly of many times.

Here is what they had to say:

Louise Howarth: “I can see how the Ipswich Nature Centre would be a popular place for families, because it’s great for both kids and adults. The whole centre is beautiful and has a really lovely feel to it. The paths and little ponds are beautiful, and I liked seeing the natural wildlife as well, like the lizards and the birds. My favourite animal was the bilby. It was very active and I really enjoyed watching it scurry around.”

Elizabeth Johns: “I have always loved animals and it was such a treat to visit the Ipswich Nature Centre. I couldn’t believe a wonderful facility like this in the heart of Ipswich was free to visit. I am going to tell all my friends to come and bring their grandchildren here because it is only a short drive from Brisbane.”

How about lunch?

Just a short stroll from the Ipswich Nature Centre is the popular Queens Park Café where you and the family can enjoy breakfast or lunch on the deck overlooking the park. The menu’s most popular dishes include the café’s signature breakfast, eggs benedict with choice of smoked salmon, bacon, mushrooms or ham, or classics like chicken parmigiana and light meal options such as the fish cake salad or spring roll salad. The café also sells sandwiches, wraps and hot chips for the little ones.

Their drinks menu also has extensive offerings from barista made coffee, smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and Ipswich’s famous thickest thick shake!

The Ipswich Nature Centre is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30am – 4pm, and open seven days from 9.30am-4pm during the school holidays. The Ipswich Nature Centre is closed Christmas Day and Good Friday, and is wheelchair friendly, and children are to be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Ashleigh Howarth Freelance writer
Ashleigh Howarth is a journalist with more than 12 years experience in the media industry. Her passions include travelling, dessert bars, cocktails and attending music concerts. She aims to inspire others to unlock their own sense of wanderlust to explore this beautiful big world, whether that be on a local or more global scale. You can keep up to date with her stories by following @journo_ash_ on Instagram.

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