For those who haven’t been to Queensland’s oldest provincial city, you’re in for an experience that spans from exploring its heritage-listed beauty to full-on family fun.
The region’s citizens embrace the historic buildings that populate the city, and the atmosphere is all the better for it. Old industrial buildings and stunning Queenslanders have been re-purposed and refitted to house cafes, bars and shops – paradise for those who love to wander and wonder.
Here’s how to spend a weekend discovering Ipswich.
You could easily spend the night curled up with a glass of vino but if you’re keen to head out, try Heisenberg Haus for great German food and even better German beer.
But keep the steins to a minimum, there’s a packed weekend ahead.
Kick things off with a brilliant brekky
The cafe scene in Ipswich is getting pretty good and you should definitely head to local favourite Rafter and Rose at the Top of Town, a historical stretch of Brisbane St in the CBD. Whatever you order, make sure you add the cafe’s popular and delicious bacon jam to your plate.
While you’re there, explore the Top of Town
Walk off (or shop off) your breakfast with a wander through the retail offerings at the Top of Town. Here you will find everything from cafes to restaurants, vintage stores to boutiques, as well as speciality stores such as Oh! JoJo Boutique, Obsession Shoes, Vintage Advantage and the C.J Voegler & Son, which opened in 1877.
Take a step back in time
Even if shopping isn’t your thing, it will be impossible not to be captivated by the Ipswich Antique Centre. The shop itself is like a living fossil of the Ipswich of yesteryear and is housed in a beautifully restored 1895 heritage-listed building. The centre is home to a number of antique dealers and you could spend hours taking in every intricate detail of the goods on offer.
Nourish yourself Oikos Cafe Ipswich
Focussing on nutrition and speciality coffee, Oikos serves up Queensland-roasted Kai Coffee beans and fresh fare such as fruit-laden acai bowls, smoothies and colourful nachos bowls.
Spend the afternoon ambling through the countryside
Follow the 1860s Royal Mail coach route that carried Cobb & Co passengers more than 140 years ago. Don’t fret – there’s plenty of places to pull up and explore so it won’t just be an afternoon in the car. Visit the heritage-listed pubs, buildings that go take you back in time, unspoilt villages and find the best lookout points to take in the scenery.
Knock the froth off a few craft beers
It’s fitting that the Pumpyard Bar & Brewery is on the site that was originally the first water source for the city in the mid-1800s. Now it pumps another vital liquid to the citizenry – beer. The rather good 4 Hearts Brewing keeps the kegs fully stocked and rolling, and we suggest you try the Pale Ale or for something slightly different the Wabbit Saison (made with carrots from the Lockyer Valley).
You should also stop here for an early dinner and big, bold American eats dominate the menu – the perfect companion to the ales on offer. Start with the frickles (beer-battered fried pickles served with Louisiana hot sauce) and have a crack at the pulled pork burger, which combines ginger, hoi sin and five spice braised pork with apple kimchi and wasabi mayo. Lordy.
Could there be a better way to finish the night than with a double feature at the drive-in? The kids will love it and if you think the whole shebang has an old-school ring to it, wait until you drive in and find out it’s only 10 bucks per car to get in. Vintage fun with vintage prices. Gates open at 4pm with market stalls and a cafe serving refreshments, while the first flick kicks off at 7pm.
First things first, coffee and waffles
Seed Coffee has some of the best grinds in the city, so head over and order your usual. While you’re there you might as well hook into some Belgian waffles with blueberries, strawberries and ice-cream for breakfast, because you’re away for the weekend and you had a healthy lunch yesterday so you totally deserve it.
After you make your way through the very cool and old-school Timekeepers’ Building you are thrust into the past where life on the rails was the in-thing. Kids big and small can marvel at the restored locomotives, check out the state’s biggest model railway, simulators, exhibitions and a whole stack more.
Be a model citizen
Seeing as you’ve just seen all the big trains, it’s time to go check out the tiny ones. CJ Vogler and Son has operated since 1877, so drop into the model and hobby store on Brisbane St and let your inner kid shine through with the model trains, planes and automobiles.
Have lunch among the beer taps
So many beer taps. The most beer taps in one place in the Southern Hemisphere apparently. Tap’d has 72 (read it again – 72) craft beers and ciders on tap, which is clearly too many if you’re driving, so maybe just sample a couple. The other thing they do well is ribs, and you can get them in 1kg serves, which we reckon is just about the right size.
There’s no better way to finish off a weekend away by getting back to nature. It’s only a 20-minute drive away but White Rock – Spring Mountain Conservation Estate offers some glorious outdoor adventures for those who find the great outdoors the ultimate escape from it all. Along the walk take the opportunity to spot the abundant bird life among the park’s many trails. Be sure to pick the best trail for you, such as the Six Mile Creek Boardwalk, or keener hikers can try the Ironbark Track.