While driving an hour north or south of Brisbane may get you to the sandy shores of a beachside town, heading the same distance westward can result in a day filled with good food, forgotten treasures and the fresh smell of nature to clear and calm the mind.
We toss back the bedsheets before the sun starts beating down too strongly, stretch, dress and gather our daytrip essentials together – granddad’s camera, spare film, some water bottles, and a notebook should we be inspired to pen some prose. The early start rewards us with a relatively quiet strip of asphalt to follow towards our weekend destination of Ipswich. With a number of cafes on the agenda to visit throughout the day, we get started early at Rafter and Rose.
Perched on a corner of Ellenborough Street, Laneway 17 took over from previous humble tenant Bon Laneway last year, continuing to serve a top drop and an array of nourishing foodstuffs. The hole-in-the-wall pitstop sees flaky croissants, bountiful tarts and wholesome wild mushroom arancini line the counter, while Black Sheep Coffee pours through the La Marzocco machine. We order our first cup of the day and playfully tear apart an almond croissant to share.
With our tummy grumbles increasing in sound, we wander up the road slightly to the main strip of Brisbane Road and turn our toes towards Fourthchild for breakfast. Beloved by the community, version one of Fourthchild recently shut its doors, only to be reopened and taken under the wing of three previously dedicated customers. The revived cafe menu continues to deliver delectable and creative breakfast and lunch options within the street-art-adorned bistro space.
Pausing for a breather between meals, we browse the Top of Town for vintage treasures at The Vintage Advantage, before slipping back down the laneway on Ellenborough Street to E.S. Traders. After a stroll over to the Ipswich Antique Centre and a little roaming about the streets eyeing off historic buildings, we make our way back to Smith for another perfectly brewed coffee and slice of something sweet. Smith is the latest creation of Donna Waters, who originally ran Bon Laneway. This new venture brings breakfast, lunch and coffee offerings together in the skinny space.
To make a whole weekend of our westward adventure, we drive a little further to Grandchester – stopping for a glance at Queensland’s historic first railway line in town – before spinning our wheels towards Spicers Hidden Vale. Set amongst a sprawling country farm, this Spicers retreat maintains a strong connection to the land on which it resides, channelling local native flavours into the cuisine at the on-site Homage Restaurant, while the homestead and cottage accommodation have been designed with a traditional Australian country feel in mind.
We place our heads on the plump pillows to rest for the night, listening to the cottage’s fireplace crackling in to the night. Come Sunday morning, we rise to a yoga class to awaken the senses, before exploring the 20,000-acre grounds both on horseback and on foot. Before the sun dips behind the horizon and we pack into the car for the late drive back to Brisbane, we find a moment to take a dip in the cool rock pool and sip a little champagne – toasting our successfully slow weekend.
You can find more information about Ipswich and the surrounding region here.