I read some life advice from the Dalai Lama recently, which included this tip; ‘Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been before.‘ With those words came images of visiting places like Sweden, Brazil and other exotic destinations. It never occurred to me the ‘somewhere I’ve never been before’ could be somewhere close to home. It also never occurred to me it could be Ipswich. Brisbane and Gold Coast locals may have dismissed Ipswich as a destination to visit, feeling it doesn’t have enough to offer a discerning weekend warrior. Well, as I learned, there is a tonne of great things to see and do in Ipswich. So, Brisbane and Gold Coast, this blog post is for you. Here are 31 amazing things you probably didn’t know you could do in Ipswich!
1. Grab breakfast at Rafter & Rose
Breakfasts don’t come more beautiful and delicious than those served up at Rafter & Rose. This cosy, cool cafe is a welcoming and very charming spot where you can get your paws on great food, like their brioche french toast served with real maple syrup, ice cream and fresh berries. You’ll find their cake cabinet calling your name, offering slices too big to eat alone. Not only is the food fabulous, the cafe itself is gorgeous and they serve great coffee to boot!
2. Op-Shop up a storm
Shopping doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Some of the best wardrobe items can be sourced from a great thrift shop, which keeps both your inner fashionista and your bank account happy. Ipswich has a tonne of awesome op-shops, just waiting to have their racks explored by savvy shoppers. Check out the Lifeline Superstore East Ipswich (80 Jacaranda Street), Salvos Ipswich Family Store (133 Brisbane Street), Ipswich Red Cross (32 Downs Street), Lifeline Shop North Ipswich (Riverlink Shopping Centre) and AWLQ Ipswich (189 Brisbane Street). The are plenty of others, you’ll spot them just by walking or driving around the heart of Ipswich.
3. Have lunch and cold beers at Pumpyard
Grab lunch at Pumpyard, a historical and very cool spot specialising in great food and even better beer! On-site you’ll find 4 Hearts Brewing, producing small quantities of very delicious beer, crafted without any nasty chemicals, additives or preservatives. It’s the ideal spot to get your hands on a hearty lunch, like their pulled pork burger, spicy chicken wings or maple smoked chicken salad, paired with a fresh, cold beer.
4. Check out a hidden art exhibition
From the outside, it looks like your average art supply store, but step inside Art Time and make your way to the back of the store you’ll find a small space dedicated to art exhibitions. It’s a great chance to support local artists, get a dose of culture and possibly scoop up a beautiful piece of art. Of course, the store also stocks a huge range of art supplies, so stock up or, if you have the time, join one of their classes or workshops!
5. Catch a weird film at Goleby’s Basement
Beneath Art Time, tucked down West Street, you’ll find Goleby’s Basement. A super-cool, historic space with a steampunk fit out. It can be hired as a studio or event space but also transforms into an underground movie theatre (among many other things, including a burlesque and life drawing space). They show quirky movies you just couldn’t catch anywhere else, like George Romero’s 1968 classic horror flick, Night of the Living Dead.
6. Explore the Gift Emporium
Stop into Gift Emporium on Brisbane Street and peruse the gorgeous wares adoring every corner of this quaint store. You’ll find vintage and retro-style clothing, delicious chocolates, handmade soaps and mineral bath salts, fresh flowers and a great range of gifts and home decor. The store has a distinctly warm and welcoming feel to it, offering up artwork, brooches, bears and more.
7. Get a gadget at Gemütlich
If you love all things kitchen, cook and homeware, be sure to visit Gemütlich. The store curates a collection of fine kitchenware, like Wedgwood china and porcelain, Japanese knives, fancy tableware and a whole assortment of cooking gadgets you never knew you needed. They also have a small fridge, stocking gourmet goods like delicious cheeses.
8. Spend time at Queens Park
Get a dose of the great outdoors at Queens Park. This sprawling space provides the perfect setting for a lazy afternoon picnic or a few fun hours spent playing on the playground. The park also has a Liberty Swing, which enables wheelchair users to have a ride too. Take some time out to just relax under the shade of a tree then stroll the gorgeous Japanese Gardens before making a visit to the Ipswich Nature Centre where you can meet wombats, bilbies and quolls.
9. Explore the Ipswich Antique Centre
You’ll find the Ipswich Antique Centre housed in a 1985 Heritage Listed building, packed with beautiful and interesting antiques. It’s the perfect spot to see some really cool historical bits and pieces and, if something takes your fancy, scoop up a piece of history yourself. Downstairs, you’ll discover vases, artworks, lighting, mirrors, collectables and more. Wander up the stairs to discover a treasure trove of vintage fashion, from Xanadu-style dresses to gorgeous vintage hats, bags and racks of beautiful dresses, skirts and shirts.
10. Get a Nutella Cappuccino
Yes, you read that right, folks! If you visit the retro cafe, Deann’s Coffee House, you can get your Nutella and coffee fix all at once with their famous Nutella Cappuccino. The cafe’s retro fit-out provides a cosy space, complete with Elvis and Marilyn Monroe pictures, a jukebox, vinyl records and an assortment of bright and wonderful vintage bits and pieces to take you back in time. Deann’s caters really well to those with gluten and dairy free dietary requirements, serving up cakes and other tasty bites to satisfy any sweet tooth.
11. Have a picnic at Kholo Gardens
Scoop up some fresh produce at a local market or store then take the 10-minute drive from the city centre to the Kholo Botanical Gardens. This peaceful space offers up gorgeous gardens and views of the Brisbane River, perfect for sprawling out on a cosy picnic blanket, soaking up the sun and nibbling on delicious treats.
12. Wine tasting at Ironbark Ridge Vineyard
You don’t need to drive far to find a great wine tasting! Ironbark Ridge Vineyard is a 40-minute drive from Brisbane, nestled in a beautiful, scenic part of Ipswich. While you’re soaking in the picture-perfect views of the vineyard, mountains and never-ending blue skies, you can also enjoy sampling the great wines on offer too. Get stuck into a cellar door tasting and maybe even a little cheese, olives and coffee too.
13. Visit Watercress Creek Olives and Limes
Originally established as a dairy farm in 1862, Watercress Creek Olives and Limes is now home to some 1,200 olive trees and 400 Tahitian lime trees. This beautiful spot produces a whole lot of gorgeous, fresh products you’ll want to stock up on. You can buy olives by the kilo, bottles of olive oil, salad dressing and balsamic glaze, lime cordial, chutneys, jams and more. They also hold an annual Olive and Lime Festival, a must-visit for food lovers.
14. Check out the Ipswich Festival
Held annually, the Ipswich Festival celebrates the community in spectacular fashion, making it an event well worth the short drive from Brisbane. The festival explodes to life with fireworks, live music and performance events. You can sample food from all over the world, spend an afternoon in the park with food and wine, get your hands on a wide range of arts and crafts, explore markets and be immersed in a welcoming, fun and friendly festival atmosphere. There’s so much more to see and do than I can list here, but keep your eyes out for the announcement of the next festival and be sure to check it out!
15. Take part in a Flying Food Safari
Yes, you read that right, there’s a flying food safari and it’s happening in Ipswich, run by Pterodactyl Helicopters. Climb aboard a helicopter and set off for a day of amazing food, wine and sightseeing. The itinerary is carefully crafted to showcase the best local produce, wine and beer of the region, giving you the opportunity to see, do and experience more in one day than you could any other way. Honestly, it has to be one of the best ways to do a foodie tour!
16. Stock up on fresh produce at Peak Organics
You’ll find Peak Organics on 600 hectares of land at Ivory’s Rock property. Its fruit and vegetable gardens, olive grove and citrus orchards are tending by hard working volunteers who love gardening in this peaceful place. The produce here is exceptional, making it a great spot to stock up on flavoursome, wholesome fresh food like pumpkin, kale, lemons and limes, garlic, oranges, sweet potato, lentils, rice and much more.
17. Hike, hike, hike
If you love the great outdoors, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice with all the great hiking trails around Ipswich. There are trails of varying length and difficulties situated in conservation parks and nature reserves dotted around Ipswich. A few worthy of your best boots include the White Rock-Spring Mountain Conservation Estate, Flinders-Goodman Conservation Estate, Denmark Hill Conservation Park, Purga Nature Reserve and the Haig Street Quarry Bushland Reserve.
18. Ipswich Farmer and Artisan Markets
Held each Saturday from 9am to 1pm, the Ipswich Farmer and Artisan Markets showcase the best fresh produce and arts and crafts of the region. Grab a coffee then peruse handmade boutique homewares, fashion and artworks. Stock up on fresh vegetables and fruits, meat and seafood, get some fresh cut flowers and maybe a few handmade soaps and gifts for loved ones too.
19. Dine at Homage Restaurant
Located at Spicers Hidden Vale, Homage Restaurant serves exceptional food that will have your taste buds thanking you. Chef Ash Martin takes locally sourced fresh and seasonal produce, turning into a dining experience unlike any other. It’s a great spot to indulge in a degustation with matching wines or pop in for a lunch you won’t forget.
20. Museum Twilight Markets
Held on a Friday evening at The Workshops Rail Museum, the Museum Twilight Markets are a great way to spend an evening. Check out the huge array of handmade goods and free craft workshops then get stuck into delicious food, served up by food trucks and local vendors. There’s also live music and the chance to join a Torchlight Tour of the Museum.
21. Take a hot air balloon ride
See the world from up high with a peaceful, gentle flight in a hot air balloon. Floating Images operate the closest flights to Brisbane, making it a great spot to climb aboard and float on up. Spend an hour gently gliding above the city and country, followed by a champagne breakfast at a local restaurant.
22. Explore the Handmade Expo Markets
If you love all things fashion, arts and crafts you have to check out the Handmade Expo Markets. They’re usually held on the third Saturday of each month (sometimes the fourth, so be sure to check the website) and play host to a huge range of stalls stocked with everything from flowers, furniture, jewellery, homewares, jams and preserves, glassware, clothing and art. It’s easy to lose a few blissful hours here and come home with a car-full of handmade goodies.
23. Dine at Nourish Real Food Cafe
The focus at this fantastic local cafe is to simply nourish people with wholesome food. Meals at Nourish Real Food Cafe are naturopathically-inspired, using fresh produce to create delicious, mindful food that’ll leave you feeling great too. Expect to find a range of gourmet sandwiches and salads, made fresh each day, gourmet burgers cooked to order, as well as a variety of house-made sweets and guilt-free treats, making it a great spot for breakfast or lunch.
24. Visit the Workshops Rail Museum
Little and big kids alike will love the Workshops Rail Museum. There are loads of things to see and do, including the largest model railway layout of Queensland, a hands-on interactive railway to play with and a carriage from the 1930s. There’s also the chance to climb aboard a genuine steam train and, once you’re done, grab a coffee at the on-site cafe at the Museum.
25. Check out the Springfield Markets
Held the first Friday of each month, from 3pm to 8pm, the Springfield Markets are a great spot to check out local artisans and grab a bite to eat. Get your hands on arts and crafts, homewares and more then treat yourself to a self-guided food tour, taking in the multicultural cuisine available at food trucks and stalls.
26. Eat at Journeys Kitchen and Bar
Treat yourself to one of the incredible milkshake towers at Journeys Kitchen and Bar. We’re talking a huge cup of insanely decadent Nutella milkshake topped with hazelnut cream, milo, real hazelnuts and even more Nutella! You may need to balance things out afterwards, so stick around for breakfast or lunch and get stuck into their corn and zucchini fritters for breakfast or pulled rib roll for lunch.
27. Explore the Art Clique Studio and Gallery
This peaceful and soulful studio is run by artist and author Lyne Marshall, set among gorgeous Queensland bushland with views across Minden Valley. Lyne’s artworks convey intense emotion and a connection with the land, telling stories of her interactions with and observations of nature. You can view her original paintings, limited edition prints on paper and metal, sculptures by both Lyne and her husband Peter, handmade jewellery and Lyne’s books on the creative process all at Art Clique Studio and Gallery.
28. Go wild at paintball
If you love thrills, you should check out the 30 acres of paintball fields at National Paintball Fields. Run around like crazy, shooting balls at the enemy or take part in a paintball scenario game. It’s a great way to get outdoors, get your heart-rate up and the energy levels pumping!
29. Explore Mountain Bike Trails
Mountain bike enthusiasts will love the trails on offer in Ipswich. With its huge, sprawling bushland there are plenty of trails to choose from, of varying lengths and levels of difficulty. Check out trails on offer in the White Rock-Spring Mountain Conservation Estate, Castle Hill, the Hidden Vale Adventure Park and the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail for a unique biking adventure.
30. Climb aboard a canoe
With both the Brisbane and Bremer Rivers flowing through Ipswich there are plenty of great paddling opportunities for locals and visitors. Head to the Colleges Crossing Recreation Reserve for an ideal launch site. Head upstream in the clear water and find yourself feeling a million miles away from Brisbane and the rest of the world. For a bigger paddle, try the 21km journey upstream of Ipswich at Burton’s Bridge. From here, paddle with the current down to Sapling Pocket and onto Kholo Gardens, ending the journey at Kholo Bridge.
31. Visit Heisenberg Haus
You’ll find this fantastic, family-owned German restaurant serving hearty meals and fantastic beers. This is the best place to get your teeth stuck into German delights like their famous Pork Knuckle, Cheesy Spätzle with fried onion, bread dumplings, sauerkraut and even a vegetarian strudel! Of course, the beer here is where it’s at, offering German beers like Löwenbräu, Stiegl, Franziskaner and much more. A visit to Heisenberg Haus is essential!
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Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.