Food and heritage trail through Ipswich

Queensland’s heritage city has a young heart, which is why we can combine history hopping with craft beer and gourmet ice cream into a trail through Ipswich CBD. 

Established in 1827, the city once aspired to be the capital of Queensland – so ay back then this former railways and coal town built itself up with grand buildings. Now the city has more than 2000 houses, halls, shops and churches on the heritage register. Combine history with a local appetite for hip cafes and cool bistros and suddenly it’s easy to spend a day exploring Ipswich.

Jump in the car or hop on the train to Ipswich and discover what’s happening in this fast changing city west of Brisbane.

Eat along Brisbane Street

Rafter & Rose Cafe

Don’t eat before you leave and arrive hungry for brunch. Brisbane Street is the main old street of Ipswich and here between the heritage buildings there are plenty of cafes. Our favourite is Rafter & Rose, a shabby chic cafe and garden laneway. If the weather is great (that’s likely), order inside and sit outside in the laneway between the masses of lush jungle plants. Drop in for coffee and breakfast, and give into the temptation of homemade cakes in the cabinet (holy yum!). If this cafe isn’t your vibe, try neighbouring eatery Fourthchild nearby.

Go on a history hop

Walk along Brisbane Street towards West Ipswich and spot the Old Flour Mill. Sitting here since 1902, step inside to see the old water wheel in the middle and explore the many small businesses that call it home. 

Keep a keen eye out for the past and present as you walk along Brisbane Street. The Vintage Advantage is an antiques store along Brisbane Street stocking cool pieces from yesteryear, while other creative art stores and shabby chic shops sell furniture made new again and Ipswich pride items like tea towels that say ‘HIPswich’ (the perfect souvenir). 

Towards the east the old Town Hall was built in the 1860s as a School of Arts. The first aeroplane ever seen in Ipswich was put on display inside the hall in 1911, and somehow the engine was started but two brave men managed to hold the plane down! The building now forms part of the super awesome Ipswich Art Gallery. The exhibitions change all the time, and are particularly focused on keeping children active and entertained.

Last stop is the Soldiers Memorial Hall. It’s foundation stone was laid in 1920. The Hall was designed by architect George Brockwell Gill, who also designed the adjacent Technical College – which is your next location.

Arrive hungry at 88 Limestone 

Pumpyard Bar & Brewery

All that heritage made you hungry? Time to combine the best of both worlds. Ipswich’s hip food precinct, 88 Limestone Street, is set within the grounds of the old Technical College, where construction started in 1897. First stop is The Pumpyard Brewery, a craft beer pub that serves an excellent pint and pizza. Check the taps for interesting and unusual brews – under the Four Hearts brand they experiment beyond the core range using things like carrots or s’mores. The menu is great – with sliders, burgers, pizza, salads, snacks and platters to keep a crowd happy. And if you have room in your stomach, the deep fried oreos might just change your life. 

Dovetails has transformed the neighbouring space into an affordable but swish bistro with plenty of hardwood features, raw brick walls, a good wine list and huge deck that sits beneath a big old tree overlooking a park. The menu is French-inspired modern Australian, and includes everything from grilled lamb koftas to Toulouse sausages.

Last but not least, retro ice-creamery Ungermann Brothers is the mastermind of MasterChef runner-up Ben Ungermann. It’s a must-stop for anyone in Ipswich to try interesting and unusual flavours all made with natural ingredients. The pumpkin seed oil and vanilla one is a delicious crowd pleaser, while the roasted garlic will find only a few friends. The flavours change seasonally, but expect at least 10 in the cabinet. The best way to try them? With a tasting plate of course. Keep an eye out for ice-cream making classes too.

Go on the hunt for antiques

It’s not hard to hunt antiques and collectables in Ipswich. Make a beeline for the (air conditioned) Ipswich Antique Centre where lots of sellers have small stalls permanently set up within a restored 1895 heritage-listed building on East Street. Browse the stalls to find everything from glassware and pottery to turn-of-the-century furniture. There’s also vintage clothing, movie memorabilia and a special retro room. Ipswich is home to the largest number of pre-1946 homes in Queensland, making it a top spot for antique hunting. There’s also a cafe if you need a pitstop.

Really, are you still hungry?

Keen to keep going? Sure, drive out to Spicers Hidden Vale for dinner at the exquisite Homage Restaurant. Chef Ash Martin and his team tend to a mammoth kitchen garden, collecting, preserving and growing produce to use on the plate. If it doesn’t come from the cattle property the luxury country resort sits on, it comes from neighbouring farms or the region.

Otherwise The Cottage Restaurant in Ipswich CBD is a cute fine-diner set in a charming heritage Queenslander home that was built in 1861. The converted bedrooms are now dining spaces with cosy fireplaces, plus there are tables on the veranda.

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