From heritage to adventure, from culture to country, there are lots of reasons to visit Ipswich.
Ipswich is the starting point for many journeys, both around the city and to the countryside beyond.
Whether you visit to follow your main interest in car racing, mountain bike riding, antiques shopping, camping, canoeing and adventuring, taking a railway journey or simply enjoying a weekend away, discovering Ipswich’s food and drink scene is an added bonus.
While it’s great to return to tried and tested favourites, there’s always something new to discover in Ipswich’s foodie scene, exactly what we’re here to check out.
Where to stay
We stayed at the Oaks Ipswich Aspire Suites apartments, close walking distance to most of the attractions and restaurants we want to visit on our stay. With free secure undercover parking, it means that we can dine, relax, and enjoy our time together.
Our apartment has two bedrooms, both with an ensuite. The considerate layout of the apartment, with bedrooms on opposite ends, makes it suitable for either a family or even two couples to share. With its own kitchenette and laundry, staying longer term is easy. The swimming pool, spa and gym, provide fitness alternatives for business travellers. One, two or three bedroom as well as studio apartments are available.
Things to see
Walk through the laneway opposite the Oaks Aspire, and you will find yourself in Tulmur Place. Named after the original name for Ipswich in the Yagara language, the stunning new mall area has undergone a multi-million-dollar transformation to become the heart of Ipswich Central.
This area encompasses paved mall areas with interactive water displays, areas for public performance, concerts and entertainment, spacious lawns and landscaped gardens.
When we visited, the Handmade Expo Market was on, with live entertainment and food trucks providing an evening out for families.
The Nicholas Street precinct fringing Tulmur Place houses the new City of Ipswich building, with the city Libraries flanking the mall on either side. The new Children’s Library in particular, completed mid-2021, is a must visit experience. From interactive screens and installations to dinosaurs hung from the ceiling and a Tree of Knowledge reading nook, the purpose-built space is visually stunning, educational and engaging. Yes, it even has books as well!
Featuring heritage buildings alongside new office blocks, restaurants and bars are opening up along a developing Nicholas St streetscape, with fairy light studded trees, fountains, installations and a street art trail of murals creating atmosphere.
Places to eat
We can’t think of a better place to start (or finish) a night out than at The Rusty Nail Bar. Located near the top end of Nicholas Street, The Rusty Nail is a humorous take on a western bar landing smack bang in a modern dining age. Established in 2021, its ‘more rustic than rusty’ interior reminds us that the food is freshly sourced from local suppliers (celebrated with their own mural), the beer is cold and on tap, and the classic cocktails, including the legendary ‘Rusty Nail’ – the first cocktail poured during the American Prohibition era, are divine.
The menu from Head Chef Adam Dayes features an eclectic mix of share plates. From tacos to gyoza, and tapas to bao, Dayes puts his own spin on world street food to maximise flavour. From his traditional Miang Kham, or Betel leaf wrap, Dayes branches out, stuffing bao with Shawarma rubbed slow-cooked lamb with pickled radish and preserved lemon yoghurt, filling gyoza with edamame and black truffle, and loading tacos up with cauli, a hit of chipotle tahini, pomegranate, almonds and drunken raisins.
Our dishes of Nachos Doms and Jerk-spiced fried chicken are flavour bombs in the mouth. Green pandanus mochi waffles? Oh yeah, we’re coming back for you!
We stop in at UB’s Milk Bar for an ice cream on the way back to the hotel. Decked out in the classic milk bar stripes, the spacious new venue on Brisbane Street has enabled the Ungermann Brothers to expand their menu and locals are loving it.
Along with their delicious ice creams, you’ll find burgers, waffles, poffertjes and macarons, washed down with a Blue Sky coffee or shake. In a journey back to American diners of the ‘50s, all we need to complete the picture is the corner jukebox and singing waitresses, trays held high, dancing jauntily down the aisle.
Having dined already, we pass up on the maple and bacon ice cream in favour of the cleansing flavour of finger lime, and that’s a wrap for the night!
Back to The Oaks to sleep, then it’s time for breakfast at St Shoebill.
We have loved the historic Ellenborough House building ever since we visited Fourthchild there, so it’s great to see seasoned operators Sam and Kim Ladson (ex-Hessian & Bean, Palm Beach) set up in this space.
Serving the bespoke highly-rated Ona Coffee from Canberra, the couple run a tight operation. Specialty coffee is an obvious focus, with a shelf of equipment and beans available to purchase.
We order at the counter and the food is soon on our table. There’s nothing overly fancy about our breakfasts, but each one has its own twist to make it unique.
Our breakfasts of Spiced savoury mince and Dusty Farmhouse Avo with Yarra Valley Persian Fetta, fresh mint and saltbush dukkah served on sourdough are delicious and beautifully presented, and with both owners in the kitchen there’s an obvious consistency in the food, a key to success in any café. The great options on the kids’ menu also stack up to make St Shoebill a winner for families and couples alike.
Places to drink
Ipswich has benefitted from the rise of both a great craft brewery and distillery in recent years, with Ballistic Brewery in Springfield and Imbibis Artisan Distillery moving in late 2021 from Marburg to Bundamba.
Owned by Jason Hannay, a local award-winning winemaker (now distiller), the Ipswich-born Imbibis Distillery produces a range of grape-based spirits celebrating the surrounding Southeast Queensland landscape. Although Hannay only began the distillery in 2019, already Imbibis has won many accolades, its latest being Silver and Bronze Medals at the London Spirits Competition 2022.
Producing award-winning gin and brandy, with rum yet to be released, Hannay hand crafts his liquors in a bespoke copper pot still.
Fresh from the still is the Imbibis Heritage City Gin, using local botanicals including Watercress limes, fresh manzanillo olive leaf, wattleseed, macadamia, saltbush, allspice and black cardamom pod. This gin, celebrating the City of Ipswich and featuring the historic heritage-listed Arrowchar House on its label, was released in June 2022.
In collaboration with Ballistic Brewing, Imbibis’ first rum will be released towards the end of 2022, Ipswich’s first rum produced since the 1800s.
In Ipswich, “everything old is new again”.