37 things to do in Ipswich - Visit Brisbane

37 things to do in Ipswich

Ipswich is so close we sometimes forget there’s another city right next door. Older than the city of Brisbane, Ipswich is just a half-hour drive but a world away in terms of things to do, places to explore and heritage to uncover.

1. Chug along to the Workshops Rail Museum

This award-winning museum was once the workplace of 3000 railway workers. Enter through the historic Timekeepers’ Building and step back in time to the romance of yesteryear. Kids of all ages (yes, kidults too) love the beautifully restored locomotives, viewing Queensland’s largest model railway, interactive exhibitions, simulators and more.

2. Take to the skies with Pterodactyl Helicopters

Captain Mike of Pterodactyl Helicopters

Want to make a rock star entrance? Captain Mike of Pterodactyl Helicopters will take you on a whirlwind tour of the area and beyond with options to do a pub crawl, winery tour, get you from A to B, or a full-blown custom itinerary. 

3. Shop up a storm at the historic Top of Town 

For a shopping experience like no other, visit the Top of Town, located along the historical stretch of Brisbane St in the heart of the city’s CBD. Here you will find everything from cafes to restaurants, vintage stores to boutiques as well as specialty stores such as Daily Planet Comics, Gemutlich, Obsession Shoes, Vintage Advantage and the C.J Voegler & Son which opened in 1877.

4. Explore Queens Park and the Nature Centre

Ipswich Nature Centre

One of the oldest parks in Queensland (a monument was erected in 1864), Queens Park is home to grand trees, a playground, flying fox, cafe, environment centre, Japanese gardens and renowned Nature Centre. Entry to the mini zoo is free and inside you can view wombats, wallabies, emus, quolls, snakes and bilbies plus farm animals and a bird aviary.

5. Appreciate creativity at the Ipswich Art Gallery  or at Lyne Marshall's Studio Art Gallery

Ipswich Art Gallery is one of the most visited regional art galleries in Australia, it is host to a dynamic and ever-changing exhibition program of visual arts and social history. Fun fact, the gallery was the first in Australia to offer a dedicated children’s gallery with innovative programming. Less then 30 mins out of town is Lyne Marshall's Studio Gallery where you can admire landscapes on the wall while being surrounded by beautiful views of the Minden valley. 

6. Explore local handmade and farmers’ markets 

Ipswich has a stack of markets to discover small designers and pick up local produce. For food, check out the Peak Organics market every Saturday, the Springfield Markets on the first Friday evening of each month. For local wares, try the Handmade Expo Market every Saturday. And for both food and goods, try the Ipswich Showplace markets each Sunday and the Urbane Markets Ipswich.

Keep an eye out for the Ipswich Antique Collectable Fair.

7. Sink a pint, dine at a bistro and eat Masterchef ice cream at 88 Limestone Street

The heritage-listed area was constructed in 1910 and is set on the site that was originally the first water source for Ipswich in the mid 1800s. Start at Pumpyard Bar & Brewery for taps of liquid gold, move onto Dovetails for French-inspired modern Australian dining and finish with a wacky but delicious ice cream from Ungermann Brothers. Hot tip: The salted caramel, bacon and pecan ice cream is quite extraordinary. 

8. Treat yourself to a luxurious stay at Spicers Hidden Vale

Spicers Hidden Vale

Perched on the top of a ridge, this relaxing hinterland retreat has sweeping mountain views, an award-winning restaurant and endless activities. The original country homestead is home to restaurant Homage and is surrounded by small purpose-built and heritage cottages that overlook 12,000 acres of working farmland. Go mountain biking or bush walking, spend the day at the spa, swim, play bocce or croquet, explore the animal farm and more.

9. Get up, up and away with Floating Images

Located just 30 minutes west of Brisbane, it is the closest hot air ballooning experience to the city. Float across Ipswich, the Scenic Rim and Somerset regions as the sun rises with experienced pilot and owner Graeme Day.

10. Hit mountain biking trails at Castle Hill and Hidden Vale Adventure Park

Ipswich is a bit of a mountain biking hotspot. Behind Spicers Hidden Vale is the Hidden Vale Adventure Park which is free to use. Once a year the Cycle Epic event is held there, or the adventurous can do a four-day MTB trail from Spicers Peak to Spicers Hidden Vale.

Castle Hill or Blackstone Hill in Ipswich is a great local spot with easy green and advanced black graded trails. Find out more about MTB here.

11. Find out why CMC Rocks

Australia’s biggest international country and roots festival sets up home in Ipswich at Willowbank every March. A stellar international line-up of the hottest country music stars makes this event a sell-out. 

12. Stay a while at unique cafes 

Fouthchild

For those who like to take it easy in the morning with a freshly brewed coffee and a sweet or savoury treat to banish the hunger pangs, you can’t go past one of these delicious Ipswich cafes. Find a full list of top cafe spots here.

13. Take the kids to Robelle Domain

Kids splash around in Robelle Domain waterpark

Splish splash – kick back at Robelle Domain while the kids entertain themselves on the 24 hectares of boardwalks, playgrounds, sporting fields and walking tracks. Kids can cool down in the water play area which has water jets and a huge tipping bucket. For the parents, there is a cafe located in the centre of the playground where they can get their caffeine hit. 

14. Spend hours exploring the Ipswich Antique Centre

Ipswich Antique Centre

Occupying a restored 1895 hertitage-listed building in downtown Ipswich, the antique centre is home to a number of dealers with a massive range of collectable furniture, pottery, clothing, jewels and more. 

15. Go old-school at the drive-ins

Back in the 1970s, drive-in cinemas were everywhere in South East Queensland. Now most of them have sadly all but disappeared. Take the chance to enjoy the Tivoli Drive-in every Saturday night.

16. Take the Cobb & Co Tourist Drive

Cobb & Co

This historic drive takes today’s travellers along the 1860s Royal Mail coach route that carried Cobb & Co passengers more than 140 years ago. Just as Cobb & Co passengers needed occasional stops during their journey, so do modern-day travellers. Visit heritage-listed pubs and hotels, historic buildings and unspoilt villages, and discover local lookout points.

17. Experience life in the fast lane

Do you have the need for speed? Head along to Willobank Raceway to see drag racing's finest speed down the track. There is a year-round program of drag racing entertainment including the Winternationals in June, which is the largest drag racing event outside of the USA. 

18. Dine out around town

Head to Indian Mehfil for excellent curries and more, Nu Orleans or Charlie's Bar & Kitchen for a taste of the deep south, Arcadia Greek Restaurant for Grecian delights, Heisenburg Haus for German food, and Homage for fine dining modern Australian. Discover more places to eat in Ipswich with our guide here.

19. A city on show at Ipswich Festival

Once a year around April the three-week long Ipswich Festival takes over the town with a raucous program of art, comedy, theatre, music, tours, markets and more. Of course, there is a big children’s aspect to the festival too.

20. Live life on three wheels with Ipswich Trike Tours

Grown-ups can relive the joy of riding on three wheels while cruising through the countryside or picking up speed with Ipswich Trike Tours. 

21. Take the crew to play archery tag, paintball and more

Archery tag

There’s no shortage of tactical games in Ipswich. Grab some mates and book a session with Archery Tag or Tactical Ops Paintball.

22. Treat yourself to some much-needed relaxation at Sangs Day Spa

Breathe in, breathe out, and give in to self-indulgence at Sangs Day Spa. Located in Springfield, the spa has an infrared sauna, jacuzzi, relaxation lounge and more, and offers massage therapy, skin treatments, laser, tanning, make-up and more.

23. Tee off at Brookwater Golf Course

Brookwater Golf Club

Designed by Greg Norman, Brookwater is one of Australia’s most exceptional clubs. The par-72 tournament-standard course offers two nine-hole loops and an overall distance of 6505m.

24. Stay in character around the region

The Gypsy Cottage

And by character we mean house character. The Gypsy Cottage is a super cute shabby-chic place complete with fireplace in winter and fresh fruit and breakfast provisions. Mary’s Place B&B is a 1928 renovated bungalow with three well-appointed rooms and old world charm. Woodlands of Marburg is a plantation-style estate that was built in 1890 and offers both budget and luxury accommodation. 

25. Keep the kids entertained outdoors

Orion Lagoon

Kids need vitamin D so keep them outdoors at Robelle Domain with a splash in Orion Lagoon, head to the aviation-inspired playground at Lobley Park or explore Discovery Forest within River Heart Parklands (also known as Bob Gamble Park) with its forts, flying fox, bridge, balance beams and totems.

26. Support local theatre and entertainment

Studio 188 is Ipswich’s creative performing arts space and is located downtown. Keep an eye out for what’s on each week with comedy, music and theatre on rotation. Also in the city centre is Ipswich Civic Centre, the cultural destination for big live events. Ipswich is also home to a number of local theatre troops and companies. Ipswich Little Theatre operate out of the old Incinerator building, and check out what award-winning community Ipswich Musical Theatre Company has on show.

27. Get yourself into nature 

White Rock Spring Mountain Conservation Estate

Just 20 minutes from Ipswich, White Rock – Spring Mountain Conservation Estate is 2500ha of significant bushland that features distinctive, sculptured rocky outcrops. Hike, bird-watch and ride your horse through the park’s 200m to 19km trails. Pick the best trail for you, such as the Six Mile Creek Boardwalk - or for the keener hikers, try the Ironbark Track.

Follow the Denmark Hill Conservation Reserve’s walking tracks to the water tower where you will discover 360-degree views of Ipswich, and if it is a really nice day you may even spot Brisbane city's skyline.

One of the best kept secrets in Ipswich, the Kholo Gardens is one of the most beautiful and welcoming parks in the region. The park is a sacred site to the traditional owners of Ipswich and here you will find many species of flora and fauna that are rarely seen.

28. Don’t miss the Great Houses of Ipswich open days

Exquisite privately owned heritage homes open the doors and welcome the public each year for Great Houses of Ipswich. Usually held in May, be sure to keep an eye out for the announcement of next year’s date.  

29. Sit back at the race track

Willowbank Raceway - Winternationals

A great array of events are held each year at Lakeside Park and Queensland Raceway. With over 500,000 motorsport enthusiasts attending events each year, there is sure to be something for everyone, from the curious fans to the dedicated fanatics. Make sure to mark the Ipswich SuperSprint in your Calendar for July.

30. All aboard historic locomotives!

Grandchester Model Live Steam Association

The Ipswich region is steeped in rail history. Rail workshops first opened in Ipswich 1864 prior to the opening of the first section of rail in Queensland between Ipswich and Bigge’s Camp in 1865. Today you can enjoy a rail experience on Steam Train Sundays, Grandchester Model Live Steam AssociationQueensland Pioneer Steam Railway or the Rosewood Railway Museum

31. Visit Australia’s longest-running hobby shop.

CJ Vogler and Son has been open and operating since 1877. Drop into the model and hobby store on Brisbane St to pick up model trains, planes and automobiles plus much more.

32. Jump around at Springloaded

Springloaded

Springloaded was founded to provide an opportunity for kinder springers and adult jumpers alike to express themselves regardless of their age, fitness or ability. You will be occupied for hours in the foam pit, dodgeball arena, tumble trampolines and the performances areas, which include an extreme zone.

33. A taste of the vines at Ironbark Ridge Vineyard

The oldest established vineyard in the region, Ironbark Ridge Vineyard currently has six acres of hand-planted vines growing Chardonnay, Shiraz, Grenache and even some Marsanne. The tasting room is located inside an original 1920s miners' cottage and the cellar door sells a selection of wines, cheeses, coffee and olives.

34. Pitch a tent at Hardings Paddock Campground

Flinders Goolman Conservation Estate

Right next to the Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate, this campground is the perfect spot to explore the great outdoors. Go mountain biking or hiking and keep an eye out for a few threatened species that call the area home – brush-tailed rock wallaby, peregrine falcon and wedge-tailed eagle. 

35. Have your own V8 experience

V8 Race Experience

Certain to be a real adrenaline rush, live out your dream of being a V8 supercar driver at the Queensland Raceway. Just like a real super car race, drive your laps in either a Holden or Ford V8 and receive information and tips from your in-car coach. 

36. History buffs, rejoice!

With its dynamic range of classic cars and motorcycles on display, the Queensland Motorsport Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history of road transport. The RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre is an absolute must-see for any military history buff. The Cooneana Heritage Centre has a range of displays, including a World War II Boston Bomber, Sabre and Mirage Fighter Jets and even WWII Jeep that is in immaculate condition.

37. Visit fourth-generation farmers at Watercress Creek Olives and Limes

It started as a dairy farm in 1862, and now works and operates with 1200 olive trees and 400 tahitian lime trees. Farmers Bernard and Lorraine Mahon produce olive products, lime cordial, chutneys and jams. Don’t miss the annual Watercress Creek Olive Festival generally held in April. 

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