Ipswich, at its heart, is known for being a mining town and was the forerunner to become the capital of the state. While it has done successfully with the former, it lost out to Brisbane in the latter. Ah, what could have been. Let’s not dwell on the past, shall we?
Ipswich is a half and half city in the sense that half of it is brimming to the tee with suburban sprawl that merges straight into the outer suburbs of Brisbane and Logan, and the other half is wide open spaces. You know, “room to make a big mistake.”
Quoting country songs aside, Ipswich is a lot more vast and varied than a lot of people realise, so while there are a lot of free things to do within the built-up areas, there’s also a fair bit of space to get into the great outdoors and breathe some fresh air.
Here is my list of fun free things to do in Ipswich:
Take Some Photos Of The Town From Lions Lookout
Queen’s Park in the heart of Ipswich is one of the oldest parks in Queensland. It’s also beautiful. There are numerous playgrounds, large open fields, big, shady trees (seasonal), a cafe, an information centre and its very own lookout.
Lions Lookout, at the top of the hill, provides fantastic views across the park and straight down the main drag that is Limestone Street. It’s a lovely place to cap off a day of exploring the nearby Nerima Gardens or Nature Centre (see below) or to watch the clouds roll in on a stormy afternoon.
Experience Tranquility At Nerima Gardens (And spot a Bearded Dragon too)
Want to go somewhere quiet while your kids run amok in the playgrounds at Queens Park? Slip away to the Nerima Gardens nearby. The lusciously groomed park fashioned after the peaceful and serene Japanese gardens is a tranquil escape that includes tea houses, boardwalks, bridges, waterfalls and ponds.
It’s a perfect place to unwind and unclench. Another creature that enjoys these beautiful gardens are the bearded water dragons. They are often seen around the park perched on the rocks or the path warming themselves up being as still as can be. Don’t worry, they won’t run up your leg. HAHA.
Get Some River Views
Barnes Lookout is technically Brisbane, but its views look across the river into Ipswich territory, so I’m going to claim this one as Ipswich.
The lookout at the top of a hill along the steeply undulating Mt Crosby Road is difficult to notice and difficult to reach and at first glance, seems unassuming, but if you struggle your way eastward behind the sign, you’re rewarded with a fantastic view of the Brisbane River as it snakes its way around the suburb of Karalee.
It’s a great little hidden spot few people know about, so let’s keep it on the down-low, shall we? 😛
Discover Ipswich’s Own Mountain Range
When one thinks of Ipswich, they do not think of its natural wonders, and while it’s true that they come few and far between in these parts, Ipswich does have a unique mountain range to call its own: Teviot Range, which sits on the southern outskirts of Ipswich suburbia.
The best area to view them along the Ipswich-Boonah road which takes you parallel past these distinct mountain peaks, they are noticeable from all over the surrounding areas due to the farms that have cleared up most of the trees from these vast plains.
(There’s also a number of walks up these mountains too – See the next item as well as ones I’ll be adding in the future.)
Take A Hike
Hardings Paddock, Teviot Range
If you’re searching for a challenging walk that’ll get your body sweating and the glutes pumping, stop by Hardings Paddock. There’s a handful of tracks here, but combining the Ridge Track and Goolmans Lookout into a circuit makes for an excellent nature workout.
Whichever way you choose to go, the track starts relatively flat before ascending pretty much non-stop. The trail at the top that links the two together provides a much welcome reprieve as it straddles the ridgeline on a mostly even plain.
Don’t forget to drop in by Goolmans Lookout a few hundred metres up. There are beautiful views down into the valley below and across to the neighbouring mountain whose name I do not know. And when all is ascended and observed, you’ve got a nice downhill hike to look forward to, which may quite possibly screw up your toenails.
Enjoy A Family-Day Out By The Brisbane River
Colleges Crossing in Ipswich’s north is a gorgeous recreation reserve situated on the banks of the Brisbane River.
This family-favourite park has large grassed areas to kick around a hackey (sack) or play with a footy or a soccer ball or throw a frisbee. It also has numerous BBQs, picnic tables, benches as well as a cafe to recharge the energy levels after exerting all the energy on all the aforementioned activities.
It’s also a great spot to explore a beautiful natural river due to its calm waters, whether by swimming, paddleboarding or kayaking.
There are also of ducks that enjoy the waters here as well as a few pelicans, the occasional black swan and sometimes even an eagle, so it’s also a great place to pull out the camera and get those shutter blades working.
Take A Stroll Through A Preserved Forest
For a unique forest experience, head out into southern Ipswich country to Purga Nature Reserve. Home to the largest protected area of endangered Swamp Tea Tree, it’s not that big but it is unique.
There’s a couple of short walks around the park amongst the creepy-looking trees that resemble something out of a horror movie that a monster would lurk in before it kills you.
Don’t worry, there are no murderous things in this little patch of forest, that I know of, but the unusual way the trees bend, twist and flake makes it look like knife wielders paradise.
Luckily for us all, the only thing that lurks here are the wonderfully friendly and cute kangaroos that can sometimes be spotted grazing about these wonderfully shady trees.
Rock On To White Rock
Spring Hill Conservation Reserve
For a walk with an impressive geographical feature, you can’t go past White Rock at Spring Hill Conservation Reserve.
Well hidden in bushland, this massive rock that rises from the ground “like a skyscraper” is something that only reveals itself as you get closer.
The 6.5km return walk is mostly easy. There’s a bunch of steps as you near the rock, but it’s mostly smooth sailing to this cool, pot-marked monolith, plus there’s an awesome view from the top if you dare ascend it.
It truly is the icing on an already delightful cake. Definitely one of Ipswich’s most impressive walks.
Take Selfies With A Canberra Bomber
On the outskirts of town along the Cunningham Highway sits a Canberra Bomber that looks like it’s about to crash land face-first into the ground.
Since Ipswich doesn’t boast anything “big” like the Big Pineapple (Nambour), the Big Banana (Coffs Harbour) or the Big Prawn (Ballina, I’m looking at you!), we’re going to have to settle for the life-sized Canberra Bomber.
Even though it’s a little dilapidated and vandalised, it’s actually a really cool, quirky highway-side feature that’s worth a quick drop-in to take a photo. Looking at it up close and personal, you’ll come to understand why this plane took a nose-dive. It was piloted by a bunch of pigeons…
Spot A Roo Or A Wallaby
These beautiful marsupials are often seen by the side of roadways in small groups or further afield in sometimes quite impressively large groups.
They are often very docile and quietly curious. They’ll watch you for a few moments before going back to snacking on whatever’s nearest tastiest or spelunking outta there with their signature bound that’s emblazoned on the QANTAS aircraft.
Sometimes, though, if you’re really lucky, you’ll spot a little baby munchkin roo hanging its tiny little head out of its momma’s pouch or one that’s a little older bouncing clumsily as it’s finding its feet and each are a sight to behold.
That’s it for my list of free things to do in Ipswich, well, at least for now. I’ll be adding more things to this list as I scope out more of the Ipswich area. One thing for sure, Ipswich isn’t just all about heritage and heritage buildings, it’s also filled with beautiful parks that are a great place to escape to for the weekend.
Are there any places in Ipswich you love to visit that don’t rattle the change purse. What do you like to do when you come to these parts. Let me know if there are any places that make you love Ipswic
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