Romance and Indulgence
Treat yourself in Ipswich
While it’s noble to find pleasure in life’s simple offerings, a cold drink in the sun or sitting river-side with a good book in hand, sometimes we crave a little more. Perhaps we’ve had a tough time at work, perhaps it’s a special occasion or perhaps we deserve it just because. Whatever the reason, the old saying rings true – an indulgence a day keeps the doctor away. Or something like that…
My partner recently treated me to a hot air balloon ride over Ipswich and The Scenic Rim for my birthday (something I had wanted to do for years). It was such a thrill and set in motion a summer of adventure for the two of us. Ipswich has an impressive portfolio of bucket list experiences for every age and interest and most incorporate the region’s stunning countryside and charm. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to burn off steam or indulge in life’s luxuries – Ipswich has it all so treat yourself.
Floating Images Hot Air Balloon Flights
If you’ve ever considered a hot air balloon ride, this is the one. It was a dream come true and the views of mountains were awe-inspiring. You’ll spend the morning floating over heritage homes, parks, rivers and landscapes as the sun rises over Ipswich, The Scenic Rim, Somerset region and Great Dividing Range.
Floating Images Hot Air Balloon Flights is a boutique experience, which means there is only one flight per day with a maximum of 10 passengers allowed, keeping it intimate. No sardine cramming here! The crew are super friendly, professional and offer great commentary throughout the experience. And to cap it all off, the ride is followed by a champagne restaurant breakfast at the Metro Hotel Ipswich International.
Spicers Hidden Vale
Spicers Hidden Vale is the epitome of country indulgence and it’s only half an hour drive from Ipswich centre. Positioned on 12,000 acres of Australian bushland in Grandchester, Spicers offers unrivalled views of rolling hills, tranquil skylines and lively pastures. Choose from luxury suites and heritage cottages for two or larger colonial houses with up to six bedrooms for larger family getaways. After just one night at Spicers I wanted to throw away every technological device I owned, buy a pair of R. M. Williams and set up permanent residence.
I promise you’ll want to do the same. The on-site restaurant, Homage, is a game changer and resides in its own historic homestead. Head Chef Ash Martin pays his respects to the area by using local farmers and produce and bases each day’s menu on the daily harvest.
Spicers Hidden Vale offers eco-adventures if you’re keen to take on a four-day hiking or biking experience. Or, if you’re feeling a little extra pampering, (of course you are) there are massages, facials and body treatments available at Spa Anise.
Drag Racing at Willowbank Raceway
Fast-paced thrills are only a short drive away at the Ipswich Motorsport Precinct. At Willowbank Raceway, there are plenty of drag racing events and entertainment year-round. You can race your mates in your own cars or bikes at multiple weekly events, there’s usually a Porsche or two around the track. Test’n’Tune allows you to test your car’s top speeds in a safe and controlled environment so it’s legal.
In 2017, Willowbank Raceway hosts the 50th Winternationals in June. It’s the largest drag racing event outside of the USA and well worth a visit, even just for the atmosphere.
V8 Race Experience
Take control of the ride yourself and jump behind the wheel of a Ford or Holden for the V8 Race Experience at Queensland Raceway. Tear up the track in custom-designed vehicles and chat to your professional coach through two-way communication helmets. After some quick tuition, coaches help you to complete each lap in the fastest and safest way possible.
This is a unique gift idea to treat those with a need for speed. Or, if you’d prefer to leave the controls to the professionals, strap yourself into the passenger’s seat and just enjoy the ride.
Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway
Take a trip back in time and hop on board an early 1900’s locomotive at the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway. Travel through gorgeous Ipswich bushland and discover the area’s coal mining history. Pop on your bonnet or top hat, sling your elbow out the window and soak up the charm of vintage wooden carriages and industrial remains. Summer trips run from Bundamba Racecourse to Swanbank Station and return. It’s the perfect opportunity to take a picnic to Swanbank and enjoy a day out at the park.
The railway also offers a Driver Experience for the train enthusiasts among us. Take your pick of a PB15 steam engine or 1600 class diesel electric locomotive and cover 50 kilometres driving and firing your own train. You even get to wear and keep your very own conductor’s cap after this one-of-a-kind experience!
The Cottage Restaurant
Post-adventure re-fuels are a must and The Cottage Restaurant is the perfect place to do so. This fine-dining experience, run by local couple Mark and Angela Naoum, is situated in an 1860’s heritage home once lived in by the Naoum family. The Cottage offers a modern Australian menu featuring French and Mediterranean influences with seating inside or out along the veranda.
Options include ‘Rolled rabbit with wood mushrooms, braised fennel, cauliflower puree, heirloom baby carrots and red currants’, as well as ‘Baked apple and cream cheese turnovers with port soaked golden raisins and rhubarb ice cream’. Seriously. It’s heaven on a plate. This restaurant is a true gastronomical delight and can’t be recommended enough. The Cottage can be found on Limestone Street in the Ipswich CBD. Go on. Treat yourself.