REVIEW: Is the Ipswich Workshops Rail Museum a fun day out for families?
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 Ipswich Rail Museum – a campus of the Queensland Museum.
What is the Ipswich Rail Museum?
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 Ipswich Rail Museum 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! (You’ll need closed shoes if you want to take the Heritage Railway Workshop tour.)
You’ll find activities and engaging experiences for all ages. All aboard for an excellent, educational trip through Australia’s transport history!
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 ($63 for a family of two adults and up to four children, $12 for children aged 3-15, $21 for adults, $18 for concession card holders) provides enough family entertainment value to power a small steam engine!
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
• 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.
• The Boilershop Gallery which had been temporarily transformed into a Thomas the Tank Engine play area for younger children (“Day out with Thomas” is open until 26th January, 2017)
• An intricate model railway that will delight your older children
• “Touch tables” throughout where kids can get a hands-on learning experience
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
Is the Ipswich Workshops Rail Museum 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!