48 hours in Ipswich

48 hours in Queensland’s most underrated city

Move over Hans Christian Andersen, there’s a fairytale playing out in south-east Queensland and it’s ripe for a Disney adaptation.

The story centres around a 157-year-old protagonist, who despite having the right lineage and gene pool, was living in the shadow of its two big sisters Brisbane and Toowoomba.

That is until it caught our attention as Queensland’s most underrated city and an up-and-coming foodie haven

This year, swap your holidays in lands far, far away for a page-turner closer to home – and get to know Ipswich with this 48-hour guide.

Day 1

AM: Organise a one-way ticket to Ipswich

They say “all roads lead to Rome” but out of Brisbane, all transport networks service Ipswich.

By car, it’s just 30 minutes and six traffic lights from Brisbane and by rail it’s 47 minutes on the Ipswich/Rosewood line.

We recommend getting your feet off the ground for this commute, though, and take your transport cues from Ipswich’s neighbouring Amberley Air Force Base.

Take the co-pilot’s seat with Pterodactyl Helicopters to see Ipswich from another perspective. The urban sprawl of the some-200,000 people who live here is proof Ipswich is Queensland’s fastest-growing city.

9AM: Too early for wine? Never!

Earn bragging rights by joining Pterodactyl Helicopters for an Ipswich wine tour, which covers three wineries before lunch at Homage, the hatted wonder-restaurant at Spicers Hidden Vale.

This vineyard crawl with a helicopter difference departs Brisbane and transfers to Ipswich covering Ironbark Ridge Vineyard, Paradine Estate Wines and Bunjurgen Estate Vineyard or Flinders Peak Winery – and all the territory in between.

Captain Mike is your designated pilot – which leaves more time for drinking a mix of red and whites that flourish in this fertile, volcanic soil. We promise you’ll find it hard to go back to normal wine tasting after this.

You can choose to return back to the heart of Ipswich (seriously, the helipad is next to Queens Park) for an arrival fit for a fairytale princess or transfer by limousine to Brisbane City.

PM: Lock up your credit card at the Ipswich Antiques Centre

Wearing the title of the second-oldest local government in Queensland and taking out the title as Queensland’s most historic holiday, it stands to reason Ipswich’s antique game is strong.

Have your own bargain hunt adventure inside the Ipswich Antiques Centre, which covers everything from Edwardian to 1960s retro.

Set inside a 1895 heritage-listed building, the first antique you’ll spy with a trip here is the building itself.

Check-in: To a place with an international flavour

For a leave-your-car-in-the-carpark kind of holiday, Ipswich Metro International delivers convenience and comfort.

You’ll find it on South Street, a stone’s throw from the Council buildings which is perfect if it’s business bringing you to the historic city.

Its onsite restaurant, Harvest, is a dinner destination in its own right, following the seasons with the likes of slow-cooked duck, with sweet potato, orange, endive, and caramelised orange vinaigrette.

7PM: Dine in Fashion

Dovetails Ipswich

Photo by Dovetails Ipswich via FB

Two blocks from your hotel though, you’ll find the epicentre of the food action in Ipswich.

Inside this city-block worth of bricks, you’ll find Dovetails, which only recently opened its doors to bring a date-night atmosphere to Ipswich.

Here, you can tuck into the likes of slow-cooked lamb shoulder and crispy skin pork belly, washed down with an almost all-Australian wine list.

It’s not just the food that gives this place fancy-feels. The decor channels an interior designer’s dream of exposed bricks, wire wracks, and dovetail joinery in a nod to the building’s former use as the woodwork room in the Old Technical College.

Day 2

AM: Breakfast in hashtag heaven

If the team at Rafter & Rose were at university, we’d give the team honours for their breakfast menu.

Get in early or expect to queue for a table – as patrons vie for the cutest little tables in a laneway dotted with succulents and hanging plants.

On the menu you’ll find crowd-pleasing classics like avocado on toast, mushrooms on toast and a big breakfast – but it’s the presentation that gives this cafe Instagrammable status.

Ps. Expect edible flowers on just about everything here.

AM: Get back to nature

Surprisingly you don’t have to get outta town to get back to nature in Ipswich. In fact, you’ll need to drive through a housing estate to find the entrance to White Rock Conservation Park, it’s that damn close to the city.

Inside the park, you’ll find a bushwalker’s haven with walking trails that range from 200m strolls to full-blown hikes of 19km through the Aussie bushland.

We’re not the only ones to know about this hidden gem and on any given day of the week, you’ll find a lycra-loving set walking around the park.

Please note, this park has Aboriginal significance and the Traditional Owners ask that you don’t climb Big White Rock.  

3PM: Picnic in Queens Park

Bush Chappel Queens Park

Bush Chappel, Queens Park | Photo by @hannahstatham

Every city worth their status has a park. New York has Central Park. Paris has Jardin du Luxembourg and of course, Ipswich has Queens Park. Established in 1864, this park is almost as old as the city itself, taking up prime CBD real estate like its famous park counterparts.

Along with the usual suspects you expect from a city’s botanic gardens – rolling green hills, Japanese garden, rose garden – this park has a nature centre (read: zoo) in it.

What’s more, you can keep your wallet firmly fastened for this day out – the wildlife centre is completely free (although a gold coin is appreciated). Meander along the pram-friendly boardwalks to see Aussie natives like wombats, bilbies and quolls.

Pack a picnic or tuck into the Queens Park Cafe to refuel before walking to Lions Lookout, the highest peak in the park, for the best views over the city’s skyline.

PM: Drink a local drop

Here’s cheers to Ipswich’s first and only brewery, 4 Hearts Brewing and Pumpyard Bar and Brewery.

With a track record of making the liquid gold since 1903, this brewery-turned-bar specialises in six local beers and has oodles of the bottled stuff beyond the taps too.

Built inside the Old Technical College, this bar is best recognised for its industrial architecture and six, shiny, silver vats of beer brewing away behind you.

For $15 you can taste your way from pale ale to stout with a tasting board that samples the six house-made beers.

With a menu that perfectly pairs with beer, take our word for it and order the sweet potato fries with black rosemary salt and ranch mayo for an amazing meal.

PM: Catch a show

Ipswich and Australia’s capital might not have much in common at first glance, but a trip to its incinerator will reveal an unlikely match.

Within one of only six remaining incinerators of its type sits the Little Ipswich Theatre Company who have lifted the curtain and breathed new life into Sir Walter Burley Griffin’s creation.

With four major productions a year, bookings are essential to catch a show live on stage in this heritage-listed icon.

Day 3

Brekkie: 116 Laneway

116 Laneway is the parcel of once forgotten real estate connecting Brisbane and Limestone Streets, next to the Art Gallery.

Taste buds are tickled with the likes of bacon sandwiches, smashed avo on toast and zucchini fritters with poached eggs.

Lock up your sweet tooth or prepare for them to meet their maker with a trip to this cafe, home of five freaky milkshakes, which will change how you look at milkshakes and iced coffees forever. Their salted-caramel ‘freakshake’ turns up the dial on a normal caramel milkshake to ‘off the Richter’, topping it with whipped cream, a doughnut, jersey caramels and salted caramel popcorn.  

When to go:

*Please note the temporary closure of all Queensland campgrounds in national parks, state forests and state-managed recreation and protected areas, in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.