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Have a Chuffin’ Good Time at the Queensland Museum Rail Workshops

Where is the best place in Queensland to take your train-obsessed kids? To find the answer, follow the tracks to historic North Ipswich where you’ll find the Queensland Museum Rail Workshops (previously called the Ipswich Rail Museum) – a campus of the Queensland Museum.

What is the Queensland Museum Rail Workshops, North Ipswich?

This locomotive location is Australia’s oldest railway workshop. It has been in operation for over 150 years and it’s still chugging along today! The site was revamped in 2002 as a world class rail museum and the space also plays host to Twilight Markets and is a beautiful wedding and event venue.

The Queensland Museum Rail Workshops is a meandering, sprawling place that’s accessible for prams and wheelchairs alike. Huge roofs overhead allow not only the trains to come in and out but also for those precious breezes to cool the place down – it can get HOT in Ipswich so dress accordingly!

Thomas and Friends are steaming into town these school holidays

In brief:

Tickets cost (includes Museum entry

  • Adult $21
  • Concession $19
  • Child (3-15 years) $17
  • Family ticket $68 (2 adults and up to 2 children)
  • Child (under 3 years of age) FREE

Day Out With Thomas: The Colour Tour dates

  • Tuesday 27 December 2023 – Friday 26 January 2024, 8.30am-3pm
Thomas and Friends at Ipswich Rail Museum
Thomas and Friends at Ipswich Rail Museum

Direct from the Island of Sodor, everyone’s favourite blue steam engine, Thomas the Tank Engine, and his cheerful crew are chugging back to Ipswich this summer holidays. 

This time, they’re bringing a vibrant twist to the much-loved Day Out With Thomas program. In a rail-tastic first, Thomas & Friends™ will be embarking on a journey to explore the enchanting world of colour with Day Out With Thomas: The Colour Tour. The Colour Tour will make a whistle-stop at Queensland Museum Rail Workshops, North Ipswich from the 27 December 2023 until the 26 January 2024.

This year, visitors can expect a kaleidoscope of family-friendly activities. From chromatic experiments and vibrant mosaics to 3D drawing masterpieces, there’s no shortage of colourful fun. Even Thomas himself will be rolling in on the action! With plenty of fun for everyone, bring your friends and family to create new memories and hop on board for a rainbow-hued railway adventure you won’t soon forget!

Tickets for Day Out With Thomas: The Colour Tour come with a full day of excitement at Queensland’s premier rail museum. Visitors will be able to climb inside a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine, witness a genuine steam engine in action, and groove with Sir Topham Hatt. Every day promises entertainment galore, including carnival rides, face painting, track building, arts and crafts, intriguing trails, movies, and more.

Tickets to a Day Out With Thomas: The Colour Tour also include entry to the museum where you can also explore 15 larger-than-life exhibits, get up close to locomotives and vintage carriages, drive a train simulator and spark curiosity in the Sciencentre.

COMPETITION CLOSED: WIN a Family Pass to Day Out With Thomas – enter on the app below

You’ll find activities and engaging experiences for all ages. All aboard for an excellent, educational trip through Australia’s transport history! Keep reading to find out more about the Ipswich Rail Museum!

Ipswich Rail Museum

What kind of things will we see at the Ipswich Rail Museum?

The website and the brochures advise that you should set aside at least three hours to experience everything on offer. They’re certainly not exaggerating! An affordable pricing scheme provides enough family entertainment value to power a small steam engine!

Toot toot!

While we were there, the exhibits we saw were…

• The “All Aboard” zone filled with a range of hands-on simulators to illustrate the scientific principles at play – great for kids who love to know how things work!
• Many engines of varied ages on display – some of which you can walk through
• A diesel engine simulator
• A tilt train simulator complete with passenger area and driver’s compartment

Ipswich Rail Museum
• A multi-carriage steam train ride that took patrons on loops around the outside of the Workshop
• The most fabulous train play space I’ve ever seen – Nippers Railway! Set aside at least an hour for your kids to play in here! Lots of seats and fans for weary parents around the edges.

Ipswich Rail Museum
• An intricate model railway that will delight your older children
• “Touch tables” throughout where kids can get a hands-on learning experience

Ipswich Rail Museum
• A theatrette for viewing presentations (this would be great on a school trip!)

Ipswich Rail Museum

What facilities are there at the Workshops Rail Museum?

As a parent, our eyes are always open for certain things. The Ipswich Rail Museum certainly does not disappoint in terms of providing for our needs!

You will find…

• Male, female and disabled toilets
• A well-equipped parents room
• Wide, easy to navigate ramps providing easy access to everywhere you want to go
• Pram parking zones
• Plenty of free parking, including disabled spots
• A water fountain to refill those water bottles
• “Trackside Café” where you can find affordable lunch, drink and dessert options on offer

Ipswich Rail Museum
• Picnic spaces if you’d prefer to bring your own food
• “Roundhouse Shop” where you can pick up that perfect gift to remember the day

Is the Queensland Museum Rail Workshops a worthwhile experience?

Our time absolutely flew. It was wonderful to be in such an inviting, well-planned and family friendly space. We had a pram with us but never felt in the way or like we couldn’t enjoy every area. Staff were bubbly, friendly and obviously enthusiastic about their jobs – which always makes your experience as a visitor better! We were there for a few hours but it felt like a half hour. There is so much to see and do and everything has been thought of.

If you have little train-buffs in your house, you simply have to make the journey to Ipswich to see the Workshops Rail Museum. History, learning and education come to life in an environment focused on play and fun. Doors closing, stand clear!

What else is there to do on family day out in Ipswich?

Whether you are into fast cars, vintage trains or jaw dropping aircraft aerobatics, Planes, Trains and Autos held annually in Ipswich has something for you!

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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