Known for its rich history, world-class museums and galleries, eclectic retail outlets, unique farm experiences and flourishing dining scene, Ipswich is an amazing city that will leave you with memories that last a lifetime.
Conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from Brisbane, the Lockyer Valley, Toowoomba, Moreton Bay, as well as the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Ipswich is the perfect destination for a much-needed weekend getaway or fun-filled day trip.
With 2023 being the Year of Accessible Tourism, Ipswich is a must-see destination for people of all abilities and many accommodation providers, attractions, entertainment venues, restaurants and heritage centres are catering for all, no matter their ability level.
To help you start planning your next holiday, here is a three-day itinerary featuring some of Ipswich’s top accessible businesses.
There are of course many more places to visit. For a full list of Ipswich’s top wheelchair friendly and accessible destinations, see the 2023 Ipswich Visitor Guide.
Rafter and Rose
I hope you packed the car the night before, because you will want to get away nice and early especially when you are having breakfast at Rafter and Rose – a popular cafe in the middle of Ipswich. With an indoor seated area and a beautiful laneway full of greenery, it’s a splendid place to start your journey. Everything at Rafter and Rose is made fresh on site, and the coffee is to die for. Popular menu items include their almond croissants, jam-filled doughnuts and Eggs Benedict.
Top of Town
If you love discovering something a little different and eclectic when you’re shopping, Ipswich’s Top of Town fits the bill. Top of Town refers to a stretch of Brisbane Street in the heart of Ipswich that is home to a mix of independently and family-run businesses selling everything from clothing to shoes, antiques, bric-a-brac, homewares, games, art and more. Some retailers that are worth a squiz include Arttime supplies, Obsession Shoes Boutique, Oh! Jo-Jo Boutique, The Soul Cauldron and The Vintage Advantage. There are also lots of great eateries along the way.
There is also a new cafe which has recently opened its doors called The Mill Coffee Shop. Located in The Old Flour Mill Building, this cafe is fully disability friendly, with a lift, adjustable height tables, counters at different levels and ample space to move. They have specifically designed this space to make everyone feel at ease.
Ipswich Art Gallery
If you have time after your little shopping adventure, the Ipswich Art Gallery is worth a visit. Located in d’Arcy Doyle Place in the Ipswich CBD, the gallery always has new and exciting exhibits to explore – from local artists to national and international collections – as well as complementary workshops for adults and kids (especially during the school holidays). The gallery is extremely spacious, which makes it easy for people to manoeuvre wheelchairs, mobility scooters and walkers.
If you’re starting to feel a little peckish, next to the Ipswich Art Gallery is Indian Mehfil. Treat your tastebuds to authentic Indian cuisine by ordering one of their yummy lunch specials including their curry of the day, butter chicken and vegetable korma, just to name a few.
The Workshops Rail Museum
After lunch, it’s a short drive to The Workshops Rail Museum – one of the top attractions in Ipswich. This award-winning museum is steeped in history, as it is considered the birthplace of rail in Queensland, and was once the workplace of more than 3000 railway workers. Inside you will find 15 larger-than-life exhibitions, including life-size locomotives, model trains and even a Sciencentre.
The Workshops offers accessible parking and wheelchair access to the exhibits, restrooms and Trackside Cafe. For parents of children with sensory processing disorders, noise cancelling headphones and sensory kits are available at the ticket office or at the model rail exhibit. Registered service dogs are also welcome.
Pumpyard Bar and Brewery
You can easily spend a few hours exploring everything The Workshops have on display, and by this time you’ll be inching closer towards dinner time. After checking into your accommodation (see more information about accommodation below) and freshening up, head to Pumpyard Bar and Brewery for a few cold beers paired with a stuffed cob loaf or chicken wings, pizzas, burgers, barbecue pork ribs, fish tacos and mushroom stroganoff.
Ipswich Civic Centre
Round off your day by taking in a show at the Ipswich Civic Centre, which is one block up from Pumpyard. The Civic Centre hosts a variety of shows each month from world-renowned singers and dancers to comedians and tribute bands. Some artists who have performed here include singers Kate Miller-Heidke and Amy Shark, as well as the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, ventriloquist David Strassman and comedian Arj Barker.
When it comes time to rest your head, Ipswich has a number of accessible accommodation options. While a full list is provided in the Visitor Guide, here are two options to choose from.
Closer to the centre of town you will find Quest apartments, which has two accessible one-bedroom apartments that can also interconnect with a traditional studio to make a two-bedroom apartment. The rooms have king sized beds as well as a fold out sofa, grab bars, accessible toilets, a step-free shower, shower chairs, and service dog provisions.
The Country Motel Ipswich also has one fully accessible room with an accessible bathroom, and a partially accessible room with a walk-in shower and toilet grab rails (however there is no wheelchair access into the bathroom in this room).
Queens Park Café
Set in the oldest designated public park in Queensland, Queens Park Cafe is a welcoming hub for visitors to the heritage city. Guests can choose to sit inside or outside on the leafy verandah that overlooks the park and the city (which is spectacular on a sunny day). The menu has plenty of crowd pleasers including French toast, hotcakes, toasted sandwiches, savoury mince, breakfast burgers, and avocado on toast.
Ipswich Nature Centre
Nestled inside the beautiful Queens Park is the jewel in Ipswich’s crown – the Ipswich Nature Centre. The Ipswich Nature Centre is the only free zoo in South East Queensland, so you and your family can stay as long as you like, or come back whenever you feel like seeing those cute little faces again. The Nature Centre is home to dingoes, kangaroos, bilbies, spotted tail quolls, red legged pademelons, red-tailed black cockatoos and even an emu and wombat. While you’re here, why not enjoy a picnic or soak up the sunshine in the beautiful parklands.
Summer Land Camels
Spend the afternoon taking a cruise through the countryside to nearby Summer Land Camels – Australia’s largest camel farm and dairy. It’s a short 30-minute drive from Queens Park, and takes you past lots of beautiful mountain scenery. Once at the farm you can feed the camels, grab a bite to eat at the onsite cafe, try the world’s first camel milk vodka, and even purchase handmade camel milk beauty products. It is free to visit.
Other options of farm experiences in the region include Ewe Nique Hobby Farm, which welcomes people in wheelchairs to come and meet their very friendly farm animals.
In addition, The Llama Farm, which is home to Queensland’s largest herd of llamas, can welcome people with disabilities, but due to the hilly terrain it is unfortunately not suitable for some – so we encourage a phone call to discuss requirements before you book.
Motor racing enthusiasts should check out the renowned Ipswich Motorsport Precinct, including the signature facilities of Queensland Raceway (circuit track) and Willowbank Raceway (drag racing).
If the smell of gasoline gets your motor running, just get out on the Cunningham Highway and head to Willowbank, 15 minutes from Ipswich Central. There is always something happening, like roll racing, drifting, sprints, skid control and more.
Depending on when you visit, you might also be able to book in a V8 Race Experience, where you can feel what it’s like to take to the circuit in a genuine V8 Holden, Ford, Camaro or Mustang. Whether you choose to hit the track or cheer on from the sidelines, there will be plenty of action to get your heart racing. You can choose to stay for a few hours or late into the night. But if you do wish to head back to Ipswich in time for dinner, go where the locals go.
After returning to Ipswich your stomach is bound to be grumbling, so you should head to where the locals go – the Prince Alfred Hotel, also known as the PA. Here you can satisfy those rumblings with a tomahawk steak, chicken parmy, creamy garlic prawns or a meatlovers pizza at the award-winning Char’d restaurant.
Also inside the hotel is the Tap’d bar, which has 72 craft beers and ciders on tap – making it the biggest bar in the southern hemisphere. The taps cover a range of beer styles from your favourite thirst-quenching lagers to bold, robust stouts and everything in between. If you can’t decide, try a Tap’d tasting paddle.
Moselles Cafe and Restaurant
Today you’re off to Springfield, one of Ipswich’s newest and fastest growing suburbs. It’s not too far away from Ipswich Central – roughly 20 minutes. Your first stop is Moselles Cafe and Restaurant, which overlooks the water at Springfield Lakes. You might even see lots of little sailing boats out on the water during your visit. They have an all-day menu, so you can choose from either eggs and sourdough or a beef burger and fries. You’re on holidays, so do whatever makes you happy!
Another popular park in Ipswich is Robelle Domain Parklands. The parklands offer visitors a rainforest walk, waterfalls, water play areas, bike tracks, an all-abilities playground, an amphitheatre where community events are held, and lots of green open spaces. There is about 11km of boardwalks here and Robelle Domain is also home to the Springfield Markets, which are held on the first Sunday of the month. The markets are also held on the third Sunday of the month at the Orion Shopping Centre, which is just across the road.
No visit to Springfield would be complete without a trip to the Orion Lagoon. The Orion Lagoon has a vast expanse of pools which are all interconnected, and have different depths and a gentle slope into the water to cater to swimmers of all ages and abilities. There are also plenty of spaces to enjoy the sun, and shaded areas as well. The nearby café serves up coffee and ice cream which is perfect if you’re planning on staying awhile.
Ballistic Beer Co Springfield
Your last stop on your Ipswich getaway is Ballistic Beer Co. You don’t have to be a big drinker to enjoy a good meal here, although with a brewery onsite, you will get a tasty drop. The chefs here can whip you up meals like pan fried barramundi, steak sangas and Jamaican chicken, or why not satisfy your sweet tooth with one of their delicious desserts such as sticky date puddings, lava cakes or apple pies.
For more ideas on how you can discover Ipswich, visit the Discover Ipswich website.