Things to do
Springfield: A visitor’s guide
With 30 per cent of the district preserved as open green space and bordering significant tracts of bushland, Springfield is worthy of a mini road trip from any direction.
Greater Springfield is the largest master planned community in Australia and the tenth largest globally. Just an hour’s drive from the Gold Coast and 30 minutes from Brisbane, it’s a centrally located suburban hub, surrounded by green space and with plenty on offer for families. It’s got its own rail line, TAFE campus and hospital and even the University of Southern Queensland has set up camp.
It’s awesome that Springfield is a well-serviced suburb for residents, but what makes it a worthy destination for visitors? I took a drive, accompanied by a very inquisitive five-year-old to get the low-down on what Springfield has on offer for families.
Here’s my list of six things to do with your family in Springfield:
Springfield plays hosts to two very different markets – both taking place once a month. The night market, which happens on the first Friday of every month is a kid’s dream (which means it’s also a parent’s dream). The location is stunning and with market stalls along tree-lined avenues, fairy lights and a real carnival vibe, the setting means it’s safe to let kids run wild – with not a car to be seen. At the entry there’s a petting zoo (go early while the animals are totally chilled and up for lots of cuddles) as well as The Studio of Performing Arts armed with hula hoops, spinning plates and juggling balls plus young mentors to dish out tips and tricks for wanna-be circus stars of any age. The market starts nice and early too, kicking off at 3pm, which means families can get in, get fed, and get home at a reasonable hour. There’s a tonne of brilliant food trucks (including the best Thai larb I’ve had outside of Thailand), plenty of open space to spread out a picnic rug or join other families at tables amongst the trees, and not one but two jumping castles. If you can get past the smell of roasting meat and popping corn and sizzling sauces, then you’ve got much more will power than us.
And I haven’t even got onto the second market yet. It’s a daytime affair that lines the whole main street, which is closed to traffic) every third Sunday of the month from 9am to 4pm. There’s live music, food trucks and a heap of market stalls.
Orion Springfield Central
It’s not often I’d recommend a shopping centre as a destination, but Orion is enormous and boasts some of the most useful retailers we know: that is, bookshops and record stores. As well as Book Face, Sanity and JB HiFi, there’s The Source Bulk Foods, Kathmandu, Australian Geographic plus yoga and a wellness centre, massage outlets and barbers.
What’s really cool is that while you grab a meal in the bright and airy food zone, the kids are encouraged to get wet in the Town Square Fountain. And if you weren’t expected wet children, the customer service desk has towels. If you’re the kind of family that takes along its four-legged member wherever you go, this shopping centre has you covered as well, its Main Street, Town Walk and Town Square as well as some outdoor eating areas are dog-friendly AND they’ve got their own off-leash dog park.
White Rock Conservation Park
A veritable gold mine for adventurous families, White Rock Spring Mountain Conservation Estate contains more than 600 plant and 150 animal species including some that are threatened and endangered. It’s located at the headwaters of seven major waterways and contains trails in various lengths and difficulties – from a 19km round-trip to a 200m stroll. A 6.5km round-trip trail (allow three hours) takes you to the base of culturally significant White Rock (where traditional owners have requested visitors not to climb on top of the rock) and there’s a mix of riparian, open eucalypt forest and rocky ridges for nature lovers to explore. The names of other tracks hint at their features and heritage: the Spotted Gum Trail (600m return), Boronia Trail (1.4km return), Frilled Neck Lizard Circuit (2.5km return) and Ironbark Track (4km return. Check out all the trails and lookouts in the White Rock Spring Mountain Trails Guide.
It’s bigger than Brisbane’s Southbank! Located in the newest stage of the massive Robelle Domain Parklands, the Orion Lagoon features interconnected shallow pools, water features and plenty of open space for families to spread out. With depths ranging from 30cm to 1.5m and gently graded pool entries, there’s plenty to keep kids entertained here including squirting water spouts and stepping stones with lifeguards on duty all year-round. There’s an onsite cafe, lockers and BBQs and plenty of colourful shade sails and grassed areas to BYO picnic. Lifeguard rosters change between winter and summer, so check Orion Lagoon’s hours before heading in.
Overlooking Orion Lagoon and its grassy knolls, Journeys Kitchen and Bar is a welcome oasis with great Toby’s Estate coffee and innovative daytime and evening menus. Open from 6am – 5pm every day except Friday when dinner is also served, the restaurant is in a prime position half way between Robelle Domain and Orion Shopping Centre. Friday nights are the time to go. With a heap of diner-friendly options like three tapas for $25 and $20 ribs, chef and owner Michael has put together an interesting menu that will cater to adventurous foodies as well as fussy families. Mains such as vegan bravo, duck carbonara and yuzu-cured pork belly cater to the adventurous while modern twists on classic staples such as bangers with mustard mash, and fish and chips mean everyone’s happy. There’s a great breakfast and lunch menu (did someone say breakfast carbonara?), a well-equipped kid’s play space, and plenty of outdoor seating (with heaters for cooler months).
For more coffee spots around Springfield check out this Discover Ipswich this blog post.
Quest Springfield Central Apartments
When I visit Quest in Springfield, it’s only been open eight weeks so everything is shiny and new. We are in a two-bed executive apartment and it’s enormous – the living space is much bigger than my apartment on the Gold Coast. There’s decent kitchen facilities with a full-size fridge, two bathrooms, a dining table for six people, a balcony, a number of couches and most importantly ample space for little boys who need to do laps of it all after sitting in the car for an hour.
If you don’t need that much space, Quest Apartments also offers studio, one bedroom and standard two bedroom options. The property is located right across the road from the hospital and an easy stroll from Robelle Domain, the night markets, Orion Shopping Centre and the enormous Orion Lagoon. It’s got a gym, well-equipped meeting and conference facilities with theatre-seating for up to 80 or cocktail-style capacity for 130.