Animals,  Attractions,  Free to do,  Nature play,  Playgrounds

Ipswich Nature Centre, Queens Park, Ipswich

Queens Park in Ipswich was the very first park in Queensland to be developed, dating all the way back to 1842! It might be a bit of a drive from the Gold Coast, but it is worth it for the perfect weekend drive. Here you’ll find a free (gold coin donation appreciated) nature centre packed with animals to see, a great cafe and a huge playground.

Our first stop was the Nature Centre. With over 42 species and around 200 animals in care – dingoes, bilbies, wallabies, water dragons and a whole petting zoo – the Ipswich Nature Centre is an unmissable experience. Enter through a rotunda built in 1891, and stroll along shady boardwalks and pathways to see all the native residents including wombats, wallabies, emus, quolls and a nocturnal bilby exhibit. A vibrant rainforest bird aviary is alive with colour and sound, and youngsters will have a ball in the barn which has calves, lambs, pigs and guinea pigs. Ipswich Nature Centre is open six days a week, seven during school holidays.

From here, we walked over to the Queens Park Cafe, the perfect spot to recharge and grab a bite to eat. The menu is extensive and fresh, and kids are also catered for with a kids range and high chairs available. The Cafe deck is definitely the spot to sit, with views out under the big shady trees over the Croquet Club and the Playground. Apparently the ice creams are a real hit here, but we didn’t get a chance to try these.

The final stop of our visit was to the playground. The city’s coal mining history serves as the inspiration here and the impressive design features a flying fox, fixed model train, Liberty Swing for people in wheelchairs to enjoy a ride and water pumps for some water play. Surrounding the playground and further down the hill are multiple picnic shelters and some barbecues, and being an all abilities playground there is ample access for wheelchairs and prams – including accessible toilet facilities.

Our visit to Queens Park took about half a day (timed perfectly around nap and driving times!), but you could easily spend a whole day here. There is also the Ipswich Art Gallery nearby which has an amazing children’s space, and also the Workshops Rail Museum with its Nippers Railway and child friendly exhibits, if you want to get the most out of your day trip.

Need to know:

Ipswich Nature Centre

  • Cost: Free, gold coin donations are appreciated
  • Facilities: public toilet located at the entrance to the Nature Centre, wheelchair and pram friendly walkways
  • Parking: free street parking is available


  • Facilities: toilets, water play, BBQs, cafe across the road
  • Parking: free street parking is available