I absolutely love it when a long weekend rolls around because it is the perfect opportunity to create your own mini holiday.
With four glorious days away from the daily grind, long weekends are meant for exploring, entertainment, wining and dining, as well as treating yourself to a little luxury, which I think we could all use right now!
Whether you are a resident, frequent visitor or journeying to Ipswich for the first time, here are my top tips on how to make the most of your long weekend.
With international and interstate travelling off the cards right now, it’s never been more important than to go out and explore your own backyard.
Exploring doesn’t always have to mean grabbing the passports, cramming your suitcases with way too many outfits that you wouldn’t wear anyway, or spending thousands of dollars.
Exploring on a local level is fun, affordable, and just as rewarding, as it gives you the opportunity to think like a tourist and explore hidden gems you might not have known about previously.
It’s also a great opportunity to support many of the small businesses in your region who rely heavily on people walking through the doors.
If you are looking for ways to discover more about Ipswich, be sure to add these ideas to your itinerary.
Feel on top of the world at Flinders Peak
I enjoy exercising on long weekends as it means I have no time constraints, and I am moving my body because I want to. Thankfully, if you are like me, Ipswich is a fantastic place to lace up the hiking boots and get back to nature.
Featuring a million dollar view overlooking Ipswich and the Scenic Rim, the top of Flinders Peak is sure to leave you breathless, and not just because you walked up 6km of rocky terrain.
Located just a short drive away in Peak Crossing, Flinders Peak is not for the faint hearted, and should be attempted by those with a high level of fitness and hiking experience.
The hike is rated as a Class Five (difficult) walking trail, and includes some steep challenging sections, rock scrambling and boulder hopping, so if you are doing the walk with children, supervision is required at all times.
The walk might turn your legs to jelly, but you will be rewarded for your efforts, with sweeping views of the rugged Australian bushland below and jagged mountain ranges out in the distance.
Be sure to keep an eye out for a brush-tailed rock wallaby, peregrine falcon and the wedge-tailed eagle.
Allow between 3-6 hours to complete the walk, and be sure to wear hiking boots or running shoes with lots of grip and take plenty of water.
For more information about Flinders Peak, see this story about hiking it with kids!
Take a scenic drive
Is there anything better than cruising down the highway singing your favourite songs at the top of your lungs as you follow the GPS to an unknown destination?
If you are itching to jump behind the wheel of your car and go exploring, why not set the coordinates to a part of town you have never visited before, or if you are looking to make a day of it, set your wanderlust radar a little further and visit the cute little towns on the edge of Ipswich.
Just inside the border you have lovely little towns like Rosewood, Grandchester and Marburg and if you keep going a little further out you can end up in the Scenic Rim in the charming townships of Harrsiville, Kalbar, Boonah and Mount Alford.
Will you go and feed a camel in Harrisville, wander the charming boutique stores down the main street of Marburg or enjoy a pub lunch in Boonah? The decision is all yours!
Take the Cobb & Co tourist drive
While on the topic of road trips, the Cobb & Co tourist drive is a must do for history buffs.
The 120km journey celebrates the first mail route awarded to Cobb & Co in Queensland when, on January 1, 1866 the mail service commenced from Brisbane to Ipswich.
This journey follows the original Cobb & Co route and the railway line between Ipswich and Gatton, with three convenient pit stops along the way in Rosewood, Forest Hill and Gatton, which have specially designed Staging Posts. The tourist drive then winds up at the Cobb & Co Museum in Toowoomba.
Some highlights of the Cobb & Co tourist drive include St Paul’s Anglican Church, the oldest Anglican Church in Queensland, Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park in Walloon, where you will find the memorial to the lost ‘Babies of Walloon” and text of Henry Lawson’s haunting poem carved in railway sleepers, as well as a full size replica Cobb & Co coach in Rosewood.
As you continue the drive through the green rolling hills of the Lockyer Valley you will discover Gatton became the changeover point for the Cobb & Co coaches to the Darling Downs in 1866.
The final stop on the tourist drive is the Cobb & Co Museum in Toowoomba where you can view the National Carriage Collection – Australia’s finest collection of horse drawn vehicles that includes Cobb & Co coaches, delivery carts and more – as well as the National Carriage Factory and the coach stop play area.
It is then an hour drive back down the range to Ipswich.
Boost your Instagram likes with a photography tour
If you don’t document your holiday on Instagram, did it really even happen?
Impress your followers by charging up your camera battery and hitting the streets to shoot some of Ipswich’s majestic historical buildings and sites from all different angles.
One of my top tips would be the heritage listed St Mary’s Church in Woodend, which dates back to 1874. With it’s beautiful facade, stained glass windows, rows of wooden pews and impressive altar, it’s clear to see why this church is one of the city’s best architecture achievements.
Just a short stroll from the church is the Top of Town precinct, which is home to more grand buildings. If you start off in Brisbane Street you will be greeted by the Post Office and Old Town Hall. The old Town Hall was originally a School of Arts back in 1861. The adjacent Post Office clock tower, which has been telling locals the time since 1901, is a beautiful landmark just waiting to be photographed.
Just a hop, skip and a jump away, take your own individual photography tour by stopping by the RSL Memorial Hall in Nicholas Street, the old Technical College in Limestone Street, now known as the 88 Limestone Precinct, or capture nature’s beauty at Queens Park or the Nerima Gardens.
Another photography gem is The Workshops Rail Museum, just a short drive away in North Ipswich. With dozens of trains to snap, as well as the old yards, the museum will bring some industrial backdrops to your feed.
Take to the skies
Fancy taking your mini holiday to the next level? How about taking it sky-high with two of Ipswich’s most popular tourist operators, Floating Images Hot Air Balloon Flights and Pterodactyl Helicopters.
Start your day with a gorgeous sunrise over the Ipswich countryside from your floating wicker basket when you book a joy flight with Floating Images Hot Air Balloon Flights owner and chief pilot Graeme Day.
Guests can spend the morning floating majestically over the region, admiring the breathtaking views as night turns to day, as well as feeling the occasional heat from the flames.
One balloon is flown each day, and you can choose your own flying experience.
If flying in a helicopter is more your jam, be sure to book a scenic flight with Pterodactyl Helicopters. There are a number of once-in-a-lifetime flights for guests to enjoy, including a classic Australian chopper pub crawl or a winery tour, where you have the choice of visiting Spicers Hidden Vale, Woodlands of Marburg, and local wineries.
Splurge in family fun entertainment
Getting the family together and creating memories that will last you a lifetime is what holidays are all about. Ipswich is full of family-friendly activities, but here are my top tips.
Knock down pins at iPlay Ipswich
If you have a competitive spirit, challenge the kids to see who can get the highest score at the eight lane bowling alley at iPlay Ipswich, located inside the Riverlink Shopping Centre.
If you are like me and tend to aim the balls more towards the gutter than the actual pins, you might want to book a few games to allow time to improve your game.
Afterwards, reignite your love for old-school games in the arcade by introducing the newest generation to your favourite games. Try your hand at the hugely popular Daytona Racing, or the classic air hockey table.
For more information and prices see their website.
See a Hollywood blockbuster film
One of my all time favourite things to do is see a movie on the big screen. There is a few venues to choose from in Ipswich, including Limelight Cinemas at the Riverlink Shopping Centre, Cineplex at Redbank Plaza, Event Cinemas at Orion Springfield Central and the Tivoli Drive-In. Grab the popcorn and settle in to watch your favourite stars.
Make a splash at the Orion Lagoon
Dive into fun at the gigantic Orion Lagoon, which is actually larger than the man-made Streets Beach in Brisbane’s South Bank.
Featuring different depth swimming areas, an aquativity section with squirting water spots and stepping stones, the Orion Lagoon is the perfect place to cool off when the temperature starts to rise. Families can bring along their own refreshments, take advantage of the lagoon’s own cafe, or stroll to one of the many other nearby eateries for coffee, sandwiches and ice cream.
Meet cute animals at a hobby farm
Haigslea Ewe Nique Hobby Farm is open all through the long weekend for pre-booked sessions, get up close to sheep, alpacas, goats, chickens and new lambs!
Or take a wander through the Ipswich Nature Centre to see native Australian animals.
Wining and Dining
Everybody knows calories don’t count when it comes to holidays, so be sure to treat your tastebuds at one of Ipswich’s many great restaurants and watering holes.
Dine at an award winning restaurant at Spicers Hidden Vale
Homage Restaurant’s award winning head chef Ash Martin believes food straight from the paddock to your plate is the best way to win over foodies, so he has based his entire menu around this premise.
Many of the restaurant’s core ingredients are grown on site in their market garden, orchard, mango trees and beehives, or sourced directly from the producers who live in the region.
Homage restaurant is open for lunch and dinner during the long weekend even on Monday October 5, and is located at Spicers Hidden Vale which is a great getaway destination!
Fine dining and afternoon drinks at 88 Limestone Street
Ipswich’s old Technical College has been transformed into a hub of eateries that will please the soul.
Dovetails Restaurant is all about relaxed dining in an elegant setting with a menu of modern classics to satisfy breakfast, lunch and dinner crowds. See the mouthwatering menu here.
Pumpyard Bar and Brewery has long been a popular watering hole for locals and tourists, and is quite often the place to be after work and on weekends. With a number of their own creations on tap, there is something to suit every beer lover.
And over at Ungermann’s taste unique and gourmet ice cream flavours including finger lime, blue cheese and fig or licorice and fennel!
Enjoy a meal in a historic cottage
Inside a charming heritage Queenslander cottage on Limestone Street sits The Cottage Restaurant. Built in 1861 as a home, the cottage has been transformed into one of Ipswich’s most buzzing restaurants. The converted bedrooms now serve as dining spaces giving a touch of seclusion along with toasty fireplaces. Extra room is available on the cottage’s verandah. With everything made on site, the restaurant serves up a modern Australian cuisine in a fine dining setting.
See the tempting menu for yourself online.
Enjoy a cold craft beer in Springfield
Kick back and enjoy a few beverages at one of Springfield’s much-loved watering holes, Ballistic Beer Co. The owners aren’t scared to push the boundaries when experimenting with different brews and flavours, coming up with creations that excites everyone from beer aficionados to casual drinkers.
The bar also stocks full spirits and wine, and the chefs whip up delicious share plates, burgers, pizzas, pastas, steaks and desserts for you to munch on.
Find them at 37 Sinnathamby Blvd, Springfield Central.
Wet your whistle at the biggest bar in the Southern Hemisphere
The Prince Alfred Hotel, affectionately known to locals as The PA Hotel, is home to Tap’d Bar, which holds the record for the biggest bar in the Southern Hemisphere, with 72 craft beers on tap. The hotel’s award winning Char’d restaurant offers a home away from home vibe and a menu stocked with dishes all made up of locally sources ingredients.
Drop in to the hotel at 170 Brisbane Road, Ipswich.
Bite into Ipswich’s best burger
Having been voted Ipswich’s best burger two years running, Ruby Chews at the Riverlink Shopping Centre plates up American dishes with a tiwist. Their menu consists of mouthwatering beef and chicken burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, shakes and sundaes.
It’s one of my favourite eateries in the city.
Long weekends call for luxury
If you’re going to plan a trip, you want all aspects of it to be perfect, including your accommodation. After a big day of exploring, taking part in an array of family-friendly activities, and devouring some of the best meals Ipswich dishes up, you will want nothing more than to come back to a comfortable hotel room where you can rest your head for the night.
Relax and unwind in the heritage city at this charming bed and breakfast.
Built in 1914, Cumquat House features six rooms, each with its own king or queen bed.
It is also positioned close to a number of eateries and city attractions, such as the 88 Limestone Precinct, as all as the Ipswich Antique Centre.
Cumquat House is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Ipswich.
With 64 serviced apartments, including one, two, and three bedroom apartments, as well as studio rooms, there is plenty of space and comfort for the whole family at Quest Ipswich.
Each room has cooking facilities, so you could make your own meals, or take a short drive or stroll into the Ipswich Central Business District to dine at one of the city’s fine restaurants and bars.
There is also an on-site swimming pool, complimentary WiFi, conference facilities and car parking.
Quest Ipswich is located at 57-63 Warwick Rd, Ipswich.
Oaks Ipswich Aspire Suites
Dive into the swimming pool, relax your muscles in the jacuzzi, or pump some weight at the gym during your visit to Oaks Ipswich Aspire Suites.
Guests can choose from a selection of comfortable studios, as well as one, two and three bedroom apartments, complete with full kitchens and spacious balconies.
The Top of Town Precinct is only metres away, and includes a number of unique retailers, music venues, restaurants and bars.
Get a good night’s sleep at 1 West Street, Woodend.
Now that you have everything you need to create a memorable experience in Ipswich, there is only one thing left to do. Get planning.
For more long weekend idea see this round up of September school holiday activities.