Quirky Historic Venues of Ipswich

Few visitors to Ipswich and even some residents are unaware of the historical venues that are home to theatre societies, performance spaces, galleries and innovation hubs around its inner city.
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Quirky Historic Venues of Ipswich

Historic Ipswich, at one time slated to the Queensland’s capital city, still retains much of its heritage and grand buildings from its glory days of mining and railways.

Not widely known for its arts and culture, few visitors to Ipswich and even some residents are unaware of the historical venues that are home to theatre societies, performance spaces, galleries and innovation hubs around its inner city.

For those who make the trip to Ipswich and wondering what to do by night or on weekends, here are 8 cool, quirky venues that warrant checking out:

Studio 188

The 140 year old Baptist church, designed by Richard Gailey has been converted to an intimate contemporary performance space inside, hosting events such as cabaret during the Ipswich Festival, Friday night jazz at Groove & Grape, emerging rock bands in Live & Loud, Rhyme Rhythm & Reason live poetry nights and Saturday Comedy Club and Saturday Night Live.

Goleby’s Basement

The brick basement of Ipswich’s renowned Goleby’s Saddlery was the workshop where saddles and harnesses were handcrafted for sale to England and around Australia and in World War II, gun holsters for US servicemen. Now it is a funky performance space that attracts the likes of Anywhere Festival, with the next show Dr Sketchy’s quirky Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Walter Burley Griffin Incinerator Theatre

Home to the Ipswich Little Theatre Society who regularly stage shows by famous playwrights as well as contemporary plays, the small-scale Incinerator Theatre is the only remaining Walter Burley Griffin designed building in Queensland. Built in 1936, the refuse incinerator was converted to a theatre in 1969, while the Ipswich Little Theatre was established in 1946, inspired by the Little Theatre Movement of Britain.

Old Courthouse

Performance spaces don’t get any older than this. The award-winning Ipswich Musical Society regularly stages their version of popular musicals and other shows at one of Ipswich’s oldest buildings, the earliest major work by colonial architect Charles Tiffin, that was built in 1859.

Queensland Pioneer Steam Train

Agatha Christie style 1930s interactive murder mysteries are regularly hosted on a glamorous vintage steam train that departs historic Swanbank Station, with audiences, who are encouraged to dress up in the style of the era, and actors mingling on the platform and train before audiences play detective over a 2 course dinner at a nearby hotel.

The Tivoli Drive-In

One of only a few remaining drive-ins in South East Queensland, this blast from the past is just 7 minutes from Ipswich CBD and while it was taken over by a church it still operates as it did 40 something years ago with onsite kiosk offering hot dogs, burgers, fish’n’chips, ice-cream and popcorn and, best of all, with retro prices – just $10 per car to see the latest movies…more.

Ipswich Art Gallery

The IAG resides in the splendid Old Town Hall, which was originally built as the Mechanic’s School of Arts and opened by Governor Gorge Bowen in 1861. After becoming Ipswich’s Town Hall in 1869 it hosted a gala dinner for the Prince of Wales in 1920, wartime dances for US troops and even a roller-skating arena, before its original ornate features were restored to become the IAG in 1999.

Fire Station 101

The historic Ipswich Fire Station, which was originally commissioned in 1967, is now Ipswich’s cool ‘Innovation Hub’ – a new digital technology start-up hub, hosting virtual reality events such as Minecraft Camps and Warehouse Gaming as well as providing an inspiring workplace with access to mentoring, coaching and networking opportunities for start-ups by entrepreneurs.

Lastly, it’s a couple of years away yet but the Old Woollen Mills are set to become a fabulous arts gallery/hub and marketplace so stay tuned for developments…

This article originally appeared on Must Do Brisbane. Republished with permission.

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