The great outdoors
A nature-filled weekend in Ipswich
My partner John and I are always on the lookout for new landscapes to explore. We’re one of those weird couples that prefer to spend the weekend in a swag than a swanky hotel. We often escape the city and head into the bush for a bit of camping, four-wheel-driving, hiking and abseiling.
The wider-Ipswich area came to mind a few weekends ago. We’d made a number of day trips to Ipswich but hadn’t properly explored it’s natural surrounds. We packed up the Patrol one Sunday morning and headed north for an overnighter at Hardings Paddock Campground and a hike to Flinders Peak.
8am, breakfast time
After a filling breakky at Deann’s Coffee House and a second coffee, we stopped by the Ipswich Showplace Markets and picked up some fresh bread, fruit, a couple of books and a vase I definitely didn’t need, but absolutely had to have. The Showplace Markets are held every Sunday at the Ipswich Showgrounds. There are endless stalls selling everything from plants to ice-cream.
10am, heading to Hardings Paddock
The drive out to Hardings Paddock only took about 25 minutes from the Showground. The campground is situated within the Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate and, despite being so close to the city, feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle. There are eight unpowered sites available with plenty of space between each for privacy and vehicle parking. The campground provides picnic tables for each site, a central firepit, covered kitchen, shower cubicles and long drop toilets.
After setting up the swag and gazebo we pulled out our homemade dip and crackers, a bottle of red and settled into our camp chairs for an afternoon of very little limb movement.
Waking up next to a mountain
After a beautiful winter’s night under the stars we woke early on Monday morning to the chirping of birds and breeze through the gums. We fired up the gas stove for some eggs and sourdough and set off for the hike to Flinders Peak. The track begins at the Flinders Plum Picnic Area. It’s rated a Class Five (difficult) walking trail and can take up to six hours return. We did it in about five hours after spending a decent amount of time at the top admiring the views.
The hike starts off relatively easy but becomes more and more challenging as you ascend with steep inclines, unstable surfaces and cliff edges. There’s a bit of rock scrambling the higher you get, which John loves. He’s like a cat. Me, on the other hand.. I was practically on all-fours for balance. It’s all worth it though as you reach the top. There are spectacular 360-degree views of the Scenic Rim. Expansive forests, volcanic peaks and mountain ranges spread as far as the eye can see.
Make sure you take a few moments to sit and absorb the landscape before whipping out the camera. You’ll also want time to catch your breath! The trip back down is slightly easier on your glutes but it’s still a balancing act.
Finishing off with a vino
If six hours is a little too much, there are a number of other walking and mountain bike trails in the area with varied difficulty. Pack a picnic and opt for one of the easier trails if lunch with a view is more your style. After the hike (and a quick sponge bath) we popped by Ironbark Ridge Vineyard to stock up on some local wine for back at home. The Vineyard is located in Purga, about a 15 minute drive north-west of Hardings Paddock, and is well-known for its Chardonnay, Shiraz and Grenache.
The 2001 Shiraz went superbly with four hours of Netflix and an oversized bowl of spaghetti bolognese later that evening.