Escape for the weekend to country Ipswich
If there was a destination talent contest, Ipswich would wear the crown for ‘Best Weekender’.
It’s got convenience, comfort and country charm on its side, and none of that pesky commute time if you’re travelling from Brisbane, Toowoomba or the Gold Coast. If you’re looking for an excuse to explore the great outdoors, here are 10 reasons to escape to Ipswich’s countryside.
It’s only minutes away.
Make the age old question “are we there yet?” obsolete on the 40km run from Brisbane. With more time spent on the ground than actually getting there, an escape to Ipswich is perfectly suited to time-poor city mice.
You can park your helicopter … almost anywhere
Imagine having a backyard so big you could land a helicopter in it? That’s the reality for Captain Mike of Pterodactyl Helicopters. He runs charter flights to and from the Ipswich countryside.
More than just your usual sightseeing tour, Pterodactyl Helicopters kick things into overdrive. Choose between an adrenaline-charged joy flight scaling the bends of the Brisbane River, or the more sophisticated wine and pub crawl, stopping at Ipswich’s favourite watering holes.
After sampling the all-day wine tour, it’ll be hard to go back to wine-tasting au naturale. We were picked up and dropped off in Brisbane, visited four vineyards, dined at Spicers Hidden Vale and were back in Brisbane all before sunset.
There’s a national park in the city
What do you call a National Park 14kms from the city centre? Convenient.
White Rock – Spring Mountain Conservation Estate is so close to the city you actually have to drive through a housing estate to find its entrance.
Bring your hiking boots, your trail bike, heck, even bring your horse to explore the tracks that criss-cross this 2500 hectare footprint.
Tracks range from short bursts – 100m – to full-blown hikes – 19km – through the bushland.
If you do make it to Big White Rock, the Traditional Owners ask that you respect it and resist temptation to climb to the summit.
Little White Rock is a different story though and a paved path winds its way to a lookout at the top.
It’s home to Spicers Hidden Vale
You’d be mistaken to dismiss the 12,000 acres of working farm 45km outside of Ipswich as just another rustic farmstay experience. In Grandchester, you’ll find luxurious Spicers Hidden Vale, which is cut from the very same Spicers cloth as the award-winning Peak Lodge in nearby Maryvale.
Aside from accommodation, it’s also home to Homage, the one-hatted restaurant that fittingly pays homage to the land it sits, with a paddock-to-plate menu.
Open for lunch and dinner, guests can sample a taste of the region while also overlooking it, with meals like lamb served with fire tail anchovies, olive, white chocolate and kangaroo tail served with chilli, riberries and pear.
You can exlpore the Kholo Gardens
Hugging the banks of the Brisbane River, Ipswich’s own secret (Kholo) gardens lures visitors to its rolling lawns.
Not just lush rainforests and lily pad-filled creeks, Kholo Gardens is a sacred site for the Traditional Owners of Ipswich, the Jagera, Yuggera and Ugarapul people.
For a “we’re not in the city anymore” moment, we suggest tossing down a picnic rug underneath one of the giant kauri or hoop pine trees, which cast serious shade.
There are wineries
Forget Twin Peaks, it’s all about Flinders Peak
Calling all bushwalking lovers, are you ready to test your rock scrambling skills?
Introducing the 2200 hectares of conservation park in the Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate, home to the formidable Flinders Peak.
Although on paper the climb might read just 500m, expect to spend an hour scrambling between the two peaks at the top.
Your efforts will be rewarded with expansive views north to Brisbane, down the Fassifern Valley and west to the Lamington plateau.
Instagram worthy accommodation
For accommodation that looks like it’s stepped out of an instagram feed and into the rolling hills of Rosewood, check into Gypsy Cottage Bed and Breakfast.
You’ll find this periwinkle blue cottage five minutes from Rosewood, in the middle of the Ipswich countryside.
As if picture-perfect digs weren’t enough – you can expect a fruit platter on arrival, breakfast provisions supplied and a roaring fire to welcome you home.
Get high with Floating Images
A bird’s-eye view of the Ipswich countryside doesn’t get much better than the one with Floating Images Hot Air Balloon Flights.
Behind the wheel (or should that read flame) of your giant balloon is a pilot with over 26 years’ experience.
With numbers capped at just 10 PAX there is no jostling inside the basket for the best view.
If that hasn’t got you whipping out the credit card, booking for the next special occasion, the champagne breakfast that follows each ride certainly will.
Shop local at Ipswich’s farm gates that cut down food miles between paddock and your plate.
For guaranteed organics, stop into Peak Organics at Ivory’s Rock where you’ll find pumpkins, squash, zucchinis, finger limes, kohlrabi, rosellas and more.