Top tips to keep the kids entertained during holidays

From close up animal encounters to riding the rails on a historic steam train, Ipswich is home to many activities and day trips which are sure to please the whole family.
04 Jan 2021
Ashleigh Howarth, Freelance writer

Whether your children like to be creative or adventurous during the school holidays, here is our ultimate list of boredom-busting ideas so you never have to hear the words “what are we going to do today” again.

Walk or feed a llama​

The Llama Farm | Ipswich

Grab your walking shoes and head to The Llama Farm in Pine Mountain to take one of the many eager llamas for a stroll along a purpose-built trail.

The Llama Farm is one of a number of farm visit experiences unique to the Ipswich region, and is home to the largest herd of llamas in Queensland.

Situated on 80 acres, the farm is also home to donkeys, miniature ponies, miniature goats, sheep,  chickens and two Maremma dogs, Lucy and Lola, whose job it is to guard the poultry.

Pack a picnic lunch

Picnic at Kholo Gardens

Pull out the picnic rug, put together a basket full of treats and enjoy a day in the sun at Kholo Gardens.

Located just a short drive from the Ipswich CBD, Kholo Gardens in Pine Mountain is popular with locals and visitors, as it boasts bountiful lush gardens, a crystal clear lily pond, bushwalking tracks and lots of wide open spaces for families to throw a frisbee or kick around a soccer ball.

The park also features barbecues, picnic tables and public toilets.

If you are feeling adventurous, take a journey through Tree Fern Lane, a 400 metre walk under a natural rainforest canopy, so don’t forget to pack the camera.

Those who are feeling more energetic can try the 800 metre Coal Creek Walk, which is a slightly steeper walk.

More picnic ideas can be found here. 

Animal Encounters at the Ipswich Nature Centre

Animal encounters at the Ipswich Nature Centre

Home to a range of cute and furry Australian animals, the Ipswich Nature Centre is the perfect place to meet wallabies, bilbies, dingoes, quolls and more.

Join in on an Animal Encounters tour during the school holidays to discover how the centre’s rangers care for the wildlife, learn more about bilby conservation, pat the reptiles, as well as get up close and personal to the adorable barnyard animals.

Animal Encounters are held Wednesdays and Fridays during the school holidays at 9am and 11am, with bookings essential.

The Ipswich Nature Centre is located in Ipswich’s historical Queens Park, and is open seven days a week during the school holidays.

Japanese Tea Ceremony at Nerima Gardens

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Taste and experience a piece of Japanese culture without leaving the country by attending a traditional tea ceremony at Nerima Gardens.

Guests will enjoy a guided tour of the beautiful gardens before participating in the Japanese Tea Ceremony; a traditional cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha (powdered green tea). Those who wish to participate in the ceremony will have the chance to do so, with all participants required to take off their shoes and sit on the floor which is covered with Tatami Mats.

Tea Ceremonies will be held from March to October.  Bookings are required.

Nerima Gardens is located inside the picturesque Queens Park.

Ride the rails on a historic steam train

Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway

Immerse yourself in the by-gone era of steam trains and enjoy a historic and scenic rail journey through the heart of Ipswich with the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway.

Climb aboard the 100-year-old coaches and learn more about the city’s rich mining history as you leisurely roll past ruins of old mines and equipment on tracks that are free of the clutter of modern life.

Train enthusiasts will enjoy the waft of the coal smoke, the hiss of the steam and the blasts from the whistle on each of the three journeys which the Railway provide each month. These include the Market Train, the Picnic Train and the Queensland Pioneer Dinner Train, delivering themed dining experiences in the Heritage Award Winning Sunlander.

The Workshops Rail Museum

The workshops rail museum

The award-winning Workshops Rail Museum in North Ipswich features trains of all sizes, from large scale locomotives to the miniature model trains that run on a continuous loop.

Once the home of thousands of workers who built and repaired trains that travelled across the state, the historic site now boasts multiple exhibitions including Diesel Revolution, Museum Collection and Storage, Rail Today, Nippers Rail and the Sciencentre.

The newest exhibition at the Workshops, called Might and Muscle, features the largest locomotive model ever operated by Queensland Rail, as well as machines from the steam era, including the Marshall Steam Roller.

Grab food and beverages inside the onsite Trackside Cafe.

Visit Denmark Hill

Denmark Hill

Return back to nature and hit the walking tracks in the Denmark Hill Recreation Reserve, one of the city’s best environmental gems.

Nature lovers will enjoy the tranquility of the area, the range of walking tracks, and spotting a number of the locals who call the reserve home, including owls, kookaburras, finches, wrens and more.

It’s a relaxing walk to the picnic area to Triassic Park, complete with a Stegosaurus structure protecting the dinosaur footprints and fossil displays that have been found there.

Learn about Ipswich’s history and traditional craftsmanship

Blacksmiths at Cooneana

Watch demonstrations by local artists who bring history alive at the Cooneana Heritage Centre in New Chum.

See blacksmiths turn ordinary metal into every day objects over a fire, or witness the talented ladies from the Spinners and Weavers group use wool and other fibres to create clothing and blankets.

Also the home of the Ipswich Historical Society, guests can peruse a variety of historical photographs, memorabilia, artefacts and mining displays.

Visitors can also explore Jim Donald House, a faithfully restored and fully furnished workers cottage to reflect the period from the 1890s to the early 1900s.

Check online for opening hours.

Visit the Ipswich Art Gallery​

Ipswich Art Gallery

Unleash your children’s creativity at the Ipswich Art Gallery, which is one of  the most visited regional art galleries in the country.

The gallery is renowned for its school holiday activities, including kid-friendly exhibitions, activities and performances in The Children’s Gallery, which was the first permanent interactive gallery space for children under 12 in Australia. It is a popular space for families to bring out their inner artist and enjoy all the gallery has to offer.

The gallery has played host to numerous large-scale travelling exhibitions, as well as showcasing pieces made by local artists.

Cuddle a goat

Spend the day cuddling and feeding baby goats, watch a cheese making demonstration, or try some tasty, handmade gelato when you visit Naughty Little Kids in Peak Crossing.

More than 70 adult goats and 40 babies call this farm home, so everyone will have the opportunity to cuddle them.

The farm is open weekends, with hour long tours being held on Sunday afternoons, allowing visitors the opportunity to learn more about the farm’s milking and manufacturing processes, while also taste-testing some of their award-winning products.

Bookings are essential.

Jump on your bikes

Cycling at the start of the BVRT

Take a leisurely bike ride with the whole family from Ipswich to Fernvale along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.

The trail traces the old Brisbane Valley rail line that commenced at Wulkuraka and continued to Yarraman, west of Kilcoy.

The 20km trail from bustling Ipswich out to the rural township of Fernvale is suitable for all riders, taking you on a fun family adventure through farmland, forest and picturesque settings away from the busy traffic.

The trail features various surfaces, including sand, grass, gravel and rough stretches of rocky ballast.

Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen as many parts of the track are exposed, while other parts are shady.

By using the Brassall Bikeway, riders can easily connect The Workshops Rail Museum in North Ipswich, and then travel via the road network to the historic Ipswich Central precinct, which is full of eateries, quirky shops and attractions like Queens Park and the Ipswich Art Gallery.

Head to the Hidden Vale Adventure Park

If you are a family that loves the thrill of mountain biking, Hidden Vale Adventure Park offers a unique outdoor experience just a short drive from Ipswich.

Located near Grandchester, the park features more than 100 kilometres of tracks all set in 12,000 acres of bushland.

If you are keen to explore the region but don’t have your own bike, you can hire one.

There are lots of trails suitable for kids, which are labelled as the green tracks.

The tracks are open to the public every day except when there is a race event on, so be sure to check the website beforehand to ensure there are no competitions on the day you wish to go.

The park is open for a small fee, which gives you unlimited access to all the trails for the day, or annual memberships are also available.

To access the trails, take the service entry next to Spicers Hidden Vale, where the park manager will greet you and offer you a map.

Limelight Cinemas

Limelight Cinema Ipswich

Kick back with the popcorn and enjoy some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters on the big screen at Limelight Cinemas, located at the Riverlink Shopping Centre.

The theatre features two large wall to wall, floor to ceiling XD screens, along with leather seating designed to enhance your movie experience.

Limelight also features two premium lounge cinemas for a more luxury experience, which comes complete with a fully licensed bar and kitchen, allowing guests to order nachos, buffalo chicken wings, burgers and hot dogs direct to their seat.

The cinema’s every day low pricing makes it affordable for more families to enjoy a day out at the movies.

Sip ‘n’ Dip classes

Sip 'n' Dip kids classes

Children will have the opportunity to create their own masterpieces when they take part in the fun Sip ‘n’ Dip classes held throughout Ipswich.

The classes are run by a art teacher, and each child is given their own canvas, apron, easel, paint brushes and water pots to let their creativity shine.

Sip ‘n’ Dip classes are extremely popular throughout the school holidays, so it is best to reserve your child’s place early to avoid disappointment.

Ashleigh Howarth Freelance writer
Ashleigh Howarth is a journalist with more than nine years experience in the media industry. Her passions include travelling, dessert bars, cocktails and attending music concerts. She aims to inspire others to unlock their own sense of wanderlust to explore this beautiful big world, whether that be on a local or more global scale. You can keep up to date with her stories by following @journo_ash_ on Instagram.

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