Small museums of Ipswich

There are a variety of small museums in Ipswich that are well worth a visit, as well as the well-known museum sites.
17 May 2017

Things to do

Small museums of Ipswich

Along with the well known Ipswich Art Gallery and The Workshops Rail Museum, there are a number of small museums in Ipswich that cater to a range of special interests, ranging from motorsport to history. Run by enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers, opening hours can be limited but it’s a great excuse to make a day of it.

Why not include a small museum trip with a picnic lunch at a nearby park or a stop at one of our fantastic local cafes? Here’s five of our small museums for you to choose from.

Cooneana Heritage Centre

Cooneana Homestead was built by Samuel Pearson Welsby shortly after he purchased the property in 1868. The family lived at the property until the 1970’s. In 2000 the Ipswich Historical Society was selected as the successful bidder to develop the Cooneana Heritage Centre, which is now home to the Ipswich Historical Society, Mining Group, Spinners and Weavers, Historical Motorcycle Club and the Ipswich Genealogical Society Inc.


The Homestead itself is currently being renovated and is not yet open to visitors, but you are welcome to take a stroll around the grounds and visit the Rhondda Pay Office which houses the gift shop, The Historical Motorcycle Club, The Jim Donald House (a fine example of a workers cottage) and of course the main museum building which houses items from the homestead alongside local history objects, mining memorabilia and the library.

Ipswich Hospital Museum

The Jubilee Building as part of the Ipswich Hospital Museum was opened in 1887 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The building has been used as a Children’s Ward, nurses’ quarters, matron’s flat and education centre. In 2005 a fire destroyed or damaged most of the building however, as it was heritage listed a renovation was carried out and space was allocated for the museum.

The current exhibition comprises items relating to maternity and anaesthetics  alongside more permanent displays including the original dispensing cabinet restored by the Men’s Shed at Bundamba; the roll top desk of Matron Wilcox (matron 1933-1967) which escaped damage in the fire; as well as articles and objects connected to Dr David Trumpy, medical superintendant 1920-1967.

Beautiful timber cabinets and stands are used to display an array of surgical instruments, doctor’s notes for their personal ‘mixtures’ and even the silk umbrella kept on the children’s ward for Dr Trumpy should it be raining.


A replica 1860’s hospital bed is presented complete with straw mattress, pillow and calico sheeting, alongside a replica nurses uniform of the time. There are also a number of information panels where you can glean interesting facts such as – Ipswich Hospital performed the first reported blood transfusion in Australia in 1882.

The operating theatre, built in 1913, was described as the most up-to-date in Queensland; and Dr Trumpy, who lived in the house on the corner of Court and Nicholas Streets, would phone down to the children’s ward to enquire about a child that he could hear crying from his house.

Whilst the museum itself is quite small, it is well worth a visit if you are interested in the history of hospital care. Be sure to chat with the volunteer staff (many of whom are past nurses) who will gladly share their passion for Ipswich and the Hospital, and don’t miss the gorgeous old photos of the wards that are hanging in the hallway (see if you can spot the old dispensary cabinet in the original children’s ward).

Queensland Motorsport Museum

Due to extensive renovations planned for Ipswich City Square the Queensland Motorsport Museum is currently looking to relocate so please check the website before visiting to ensure all information is up to date. If visiting the Motorsport Museum, don’t do what I did and stand in the mall next to the roller doors with the very impressive Peter Brock mural and wait for them to roll up – they don’t.

To enter the museum, you need to head through the sliding doors and make your way to the escalator, which takes you down to the lower ground floor and the museum entry. Pet project of motoring enthusiast Ian Bone, the Queensland Motorsport Museum was established in 2002. Unfolding over 1600 square meters the Museum houses a mix of original, tribute, replica and reproduction race and road cars and bikes including the oldest racecar in Australia – a 1922 Model T Ford.

All vehicles have either been donated or are loaned to the museum and with access to over two hundred cars and floor space for around fifty the display turnover is pretty regular.


If you’re lucky enough to catch Ian on site he will happily take you on a personal tour of the museum and provide you not only with fascinating technical details but also with the human stories behind the machines. This to me is what the small museum experience is all about – getting a glimpse into someone’s passion and enthusiasm.

If you are an enthusiast you can take out a twelve month membership, giving you unlimited access to the museum which also houses an extensive members’ library, meeting area and theatrette.

RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Museum

Opened in 2011, the mission of the RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre is to showcase the history of the RAAF and, in particular, the history of aviation at RAAF Amberley and the RAAF in South East Queensland. The Heritage Centre is housed in four hangars and has a range of displays, including a WWII Boston Bomber, a Vietnam-era Canberra Bomber, Caribou airlifter, Sabre and Mirage fighter jets, F-111s, a Pilatus Porter as well as Sioux and Iroquois helicopters.

Every member of the Aviation Centre team is involved in the research, restoration and display of the aircraft and items that make up the collection. When you visit the centre these same enthusiastic people will happily talk to you about each of the displays and the stories behind them.

The Rosewood Railway

The Rosewood Railway comprises three kilometres of restored railway track along with a collection of vintage and antique rolling stock nestled in the hills between Rosewood and Marburg. Construction of the original branch line began in 1910 from Rosewood and the steeply graded line was opened to Marburg in 1912. This line was closed in sections from 1964 as the need for locomotive coal decreased.

In late 1984, members of the Queensland Division of the Australian Railway Historical Society began work rehabilitating the 3km of track to establish a working railway museum, with the official opening held on Australia Day in 1993. Since then, steam trains have operated on the isolated section of track, between Cabanda and Kunkala stations, on the last Sunday of the month.

The Rosewood Railway
If you’re after a rather lovely Sunday day-trip, head out for the hourly train departures from Cabanda station. Make sure you take a picnic with you so you can sit at the top station for a while, before taking a careful wander around the displays of rolling stock or perhaps grabbing an extra ride on one of the other engines operating that day.
Bec Lewis Artist
I am an Ipswich resident, artist and mum. I am constantly inspired by our rich local history, not only the built heritage but the people too. I want to know the stories behind municipal buildings, tiny cottages and beautiful (and not so beautiful) gardens and I want to find out about the everyday characters who have shaped my local community.

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