The Road Ahead : October 2012
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU THE ROAD AHEAD OCT/NOV 2012 40 TRAVEL WEEKEND ESCAPE WHEN PEOPLE TALK about destinations for a south-east Queensland weekend getaway, Ipswich doesn't often come up in the conversation. Now that I have been lucky enough to visit Ipswich, I can say with absolute conviction that it is a city most worthy of a weekend getaway. As a newcomer, my first stop was the Ipswich Visitor Information Centre, which last year received a Queensland Tourism Award and is the font of all knowledge when it comes to finding out what to do and see in the region. Given the information centre's location on the edge of Queens Park, it made sense that this be the first stop on our tour. In addition to a children's playground, it is home to the Ipswich Nature Centre, where kids can feed the animals twice a day and explore the Frank Manthey Bilby Burrow. The nature experience ntinues in the Environmental ucation Centre which provides a alth of 'green' information. And ter a full-on day with the kids, arents can retreat to the Japanese- hemed Nerima Gardens for some eace and quiet. It was at this point that coffee was calling, and there was no better place to heed that call than Ipswich's city heart at the junction of Brisbane and Limestone streets. It was refreshing to see a commercial landscape devoid of cookie cutter-type coffee shops -- the cafes lining the street were all owner- operated, and each had its own point of difference. That's one of the compelling aspects of Ipswich -- it seems to be a haven of bright, original ideas. Take the Ipswich Art Gallery, for example, located in the city's restored old town hall in d'Arcy Doyle Place. The gallery offers a dynamic program of exhibitions and heritage displays, but doesn't have the 'look, but don't touch' stigma commonly associated with art galleries. In fact, the Ipswich Art Gallery has devoted virtually an entire level to satisfying the inquisitive minds of younger art enthusiasts. The award-winning Children's Gallery provides hands-on STORY DEB ECCLESTON visit ipswich and be pleasantly delighted programs designed to inspire and entertain young minds. One of Ipswich's biggest drawcards is The Workshops Rail Museum, located on the outskirts of the city. Ipswich is the birthplace of Queensland's railways, making it the natural choice for a museum documenting its development through the ages. Back in its heyday more than 200 steam locomotives and 11,000 wagons and carriages were constructed on the site. There are plenty of accommodation options in Ipswich, but few offer an experience like Spicers Hidden Vale, just under an hour's drive from Ipswich Central. Perhaps what was most surprising about Hidden Vale was the blend of five-star facilities and good old country hospitality. During my stay, I was fortunate to experience a Pterodactyl Helicopters wine tour of Normanby Wines, Paradine Wines and Woodlands of Marburg, a majestic mansion built in 1896. Suffice to say, it's clear to see (or rather taste) why south-east Queensland has gained a reputation as a good wine producer. To cap off an action-packed day, I was able to watch the sun set over the Little Liverpool Range as part of Spicers Hidden Vale's Sundowner Tour and reflect on what I had experienced. It was during this reflection that I came to this conclusion: Brisbane's 'little brother' has grown up and is fast gaining momentum as a must-see Queensland destination. That's one of the compelling aspects of Ipswich -- it seems to be a haven of bright, original ideas. 1. CAPTAIN MIKE JARVIS -- PTERODACTYL HELICOPTERS 2. WOODLANDS OF MARBURG 3. SPICERS HIDDEN VALE 4. HORSE RIDING -- SPICERS HIDDEN VALE 5. THE WORKSHOP RAIL MUSEUM. FOR MORE GREAT ROAD TRIP IDEAS, SUBSCRIBE TO OUR DRIVETRAVEL ENEWS AT ROADAHEAD.COM.AU/SUBSCRIBE.
August 1st 2012