Ipswich is the home of all things vintage, retro and antique.
It’s a finders’ heaven, as simple as following the Ipswich CRAVE trail to discover unique collectables to take home.
Digging for treasure is tiring work, so we’ve mapped out some retro refuel stops along the way where you’ll find the sustenance to keep you going.
The Retro Diner
It’s always Happy Days at the Retro Diner in the Top of the Town.
In this cheery 50s-inspired café, the stars of bygone eras smile down at you from candy coloured walls. We sit at the formica tables and chairs of our childhood watching classic TV shows. Angie and the girls serve us and chat about the memorabilia around the walls. A father and son stop to comment on the front window display. There’s so much to look at, so many memories jolted and conversations started.
We dine on The Barnsy, house-made savoury mince topped with a fried egg on sourdough and an ‘old school’ milkshake. Other drink choices include spiders, thickshakes, cherry cola and other Route 66 sodas. Fill up the empty gaps with homestyle retro meals like ‘The Tiffany’, zucchini and bacon slice served with chips and salad, ‘The Italiano’ homemade lasagne, crowd-pleasing hot dogs, burgers and loaded fries. There’s plenty of ‘food for thought’ and even the prices are retro.
The Girls’ Coffee Bar
The air-conditioned Girls’ Coffee Bar beside the Warrego Highway at Marburg is open for breakfast, lunch and coffee seven days a week, a handy halfway point for a pit stop on a road trip between Toowoomba and Brisbane.
The café gives us a taste of how food used to be with homemade pies and sausage rolls, house-baked fruit toast, open grills and home-baked country food starring on the menu.
To accompany their Melbourne-sourced Amanti coffee, sweets are baked from scratch, including cheesecakes, brownies and slices.
Bottles of sauce, glazed balsamic vinegar, honey, pickled onions, chutneys and curry spices in a wall cabinet prove tempting, and we leave the café refuelled with several purchases to go.
Situated within sight of Dinmore train station, Dinmore Cottage is the epitome of vintage elegance.
Owners Lindy and Rob Leavy left life on the Gold Coast three years ago to open the venue. With its polished timber floors, white tablecloths and fine bone china tea settings, the charming old Queenslander is now home to a high tea house with a function room on the property that can cater for over fifty people.
Using local Somerset coffee and world teas, including the renowned Blooming tea, Lindy specialises in exquisite high teas, light meals and Devonshire teas with light and fluffy freshly baked scones.
You’ll find Rob manning the Retro Coffee Can (van) facing the road where you can hear a bad dad joke, pat the dog and get a great coffee from 5 – 10am daily.
Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway picnic train
With the waft coal smoke, the hiss of the steam and blasts of the whistle, a ride on one of the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway Ipswich steam trains provides a truly retro experience for families that can include food to make a great day out.
Take the Picnic Train from Bundamba Racecourse Station to Swanbank Station or, if you have small children in tow, you can take a short 15-minute loop ride from Swanbank Station through forest and over a bridge.
Return to Swanbank Station where there’s a jumping castle and picnic area. You can get lunch at one of the food trucks outside the station or enjoy a BYO picnic lunch beside the water.
Options range in price and can be pre-booked online.
Heritage Coffee Corner
A coffee shop recently opened inside the Ipswich Antique Centre, adding another reason to visit the historic building.
Ailsa Andersen, who formerly owned Woodend café Richy’s, has named her coffee shop Heritage Coffee Corner.
Serving coffee and fine teas, including the prized Dilmah Silver Tips, in vintage crockery, light meals such as frittatas, soups and filos, as well as a range of homemade cakes and slices, now you can take a break from your antique browsing to enjoy refreshment in the centre.
With vendors both upstairs and downstairs, there’s a lot to see.
Wild Rose Cottage
Sisters Prue and Verity Ireland operate the gorgeous heritage listed Wild Rose Cottage which dates from between the wars. Beautifully restored to its former glory, the ambience of the cottage is enhanced by fresh flower arrangements on each table, cut from the girls’ home garden.
In the café’s menu of homestyle meals, you’ll find some hard to get items such as Zucchini slice, Frittata and other retro savouries.
A cabinet contains cakes, tarts and biscuits freshly baked in house. There’s a full breakfast menu including gluten-free options, several varieties of French toast and the house specialty, Figgy Piggy, a decadent toasted sandwich of bacon, brie and fig jam.
The girls’ service is utterly charming, and they take pride in the beautiful presentation of each dish.