Once a commercial and political rival to Brisbane, Ipswich remains a vigorously independent provincial city, 40km south of the Queensland capital.
The city developed from a convict settlement established on the Bremer River in 1827 to work the rich deposits of limestone in the surrounding hills. The early settlement, coupled with the economic and strategic importance of the town, has left Ipswich with a stock of magnificent examples of colonial government buildings, churches, manor houses and Queenslander homes.
A standout is the Court House. Built in neo-classical, faintly Mediterranean style in 1859, it remains one of the few surviving buildings constructed by the NSW Government before the creation of a separate Queensland colony.
The city and surrounds are networked with a chain of parks and bushland reserves well endowed with recreational and leisure facilities which offer tranquil bush walks and picnicking sanctuaries.
It is absolutely essential to get a copy of the Ipswich City Heritage Trails pamphlet which has been published by the Ipswich City Council and the National Trust of Queensland (Ipswich Branch). The pamphlet has been excellently presented with color photographs and detailed text on no fewer than 78 buildings in the town. The challenge of such a feast of goodies (most of them are private dwellings and not open to the public) is where do you start. The pamphlet even attempts to solve this question by offering six trails – three walking and three driving. An excellent map is included.