Where is it: 2 Ipswich Street, Grandchester, about 1.5 hours' drive west of Brisbane
What's it all about: Scaled down replica trains that you can ride on! What fun!
Why we love it: Little, working trains (are there any kids that don't love trains?) which run on real, miniature tracks that you can ride on! It's such a lovely, relaxed and rural setting which heaps of space and more than enough shade for a picnic as the trains go by!
Tell me more: Grandchester is a tiny little town about half an hours' drive from Ipswich. It might be tiny, but it has a very special place in the history of Queensland, as it was the last stop on the (then) new Queensland Rail which provided a huge impetous to the development of this great state! As a reminder of the importance of the town's rail heritage, Grandchester Model Live Steam runs on the first Sunday of every month and we have to say that it is heaps of fun!
The detail on the trains is simply amazing - you will find both steam trains (actual little steam trains burning coal!) and faithful replicas of Queensland Rail diesel locomotives (although we don't think that there are any diesel engines in there)! The association members who provide their time to running these days are quite accommodating, so if you or your little guys really want to ride a specific train they will do their best to get you on that train. They pull specially built wagons that can carry around 6 - 8 people per wagon and the ride is surprisingly smooth and lots of fun! And at two dollars a ride and multi ticket discounts, it's great value as well! There's a canteen on site for food and refreshments or bring a picnic as there's heaps of lawn and shade.
While you are in Grandchester for the train rides, you really need to pay a visit to the historic Grandchester Station. The heritage listed building is only a two minute drive from the Model Live Steam tracks and is a lovely and faithfully maintained old station, which looks as though it could be in daily use still to this day! It's not however, but the train line that runs directly past is still in use and on occasion this station will be put back into service for heritage steam train visits! It holds some intriguing memorabilia from days gone by and it is a beautiful old building!
We had a great day out at Grandchester - the little trains are heaps of fun for the kids, Grandchester Station is a lovely visit, and the whole day in this little town was so relaxed and quiet. It's a great way to switch off and recharge, while at the same time enjoying the fun of the model railway!
Amenities: Toilets on site and there's also a canteen so you can visit without packing your lunch! There are a few covered picnic tables and lots of lawn areas. 👍👍👍👍
Parking: Roadside parking that can get a bit busy, but no problems with finding a park! 👍👍👍
Access: Easy to get to and get around, but you will need to drive to Grandchester! 👍👍👍
Best for: Everyone will enjoy this day out, however we think that kids 6 and under would have the most fun! 👍👍👍👍
Summary: A really fun and relaxed day out in a quaint little rural setting. Well worth a visit and especially if you have little train buffs in your family! 👍👍👍👍
Hints: Be sure to visit the historic Grandchester Station and the Model Live Steam is a great spot for a picnic lunch!
Grandchester Model Train
Backyard Bonanza, Bracken Ridge
Almost every weekend, at locations all around Brisbane you're likely to find some free community events. We are really lucky here that there are so many community organisations, sponsors and government agencies that are always willing to put their hand up and help in putting these events together! We like to support these events by going along, buying a few things at the local stalls and making an effort to contribute to making the event a success! Plus we get to have a fun time as well! The Backyard Bonanza at Bracken Ridge is a really great community event! Heaps of things to check out, rides for the kids, entertainment and to top it all off, it coincides with the Lions Club's monthly running of miniature trains!
We set off on our way to Bracken Ridge at a relaxed pace - it's not too far out (to the north) of the city so even with getting the kids up, fed and ready there was little stress. We realised when we arrived that it is certainly a popular event as there was plenty of cars there - we managed to find a park ok but we had maybe a 500m walk to the event. There is a small car park on site, but it was closed off for the day's events.
Set up in McPherson Park, we found no problems navigating our way around the event as the whole festival was reasonably compact and there was something of interest wherever we walked. It's a nice little playgound and park area, so taking the pram was no hassle at all - there are a number of concrete paths winding through the park, however you do need to watch out for the trains! There was also a few different options for food and drinks so bringing your own food was optional, however the park is nice and shady and is a great spot for a picnic!
Upon arrival, the kids had a bit of a blinkered view of things and headed straight for the little playground - it didn't matter that there were carnival rides or miniature trains in the vicinity, they wanted to play on the playground! That said, it didn't take them long to realise that there was more going on in this park. So, after a few minutes we bought our tickets and had a few laps on the miniature trains! The trains run every fourth month regardless of the BYB festival, and aren't they fun! Really well organised by the Lions Club, these are worth a visit in their own right. But there was more to this festival than the activities that are a regular occurrence here, so off we went to explore!
Once we had prised (with some effort) the kids off the trains, we had a wander around the rest of the festival. We had a bit of time to get through before a special visitor got up on stage! There was a great little exhibit set up by the Brisbane City Council Libraries with a craft table, handouts and books to read! It's amazing how much fun a few pieces of coloured paper, some scissors and some glue can provide! In other parts of the festival there was also music, dancing, skate displays, signing and carnival rides! But the one event that the kids were waiting for was a visit from a very popular character in Captain Barnacles from Octonauts! It was an interactive and very popular show which all the kids loved!
We don't think that we could identify anything really wrong with this event - heaps of things to engage the kids, entertainment, rides, music, craft and of course, the miniature trains! The trains and the carnival rides were paid events and there were plenty of free activities, I think that it would have been difficult to attend with kids without paying for something (the trains are hard to resist!). Captain Barnacles was a crowd favourite and hopefully they will bring back a similar show in future years! This one is certainly worth a visit.
Amenities: Toilet block and port-a-loos! 👍👍👍
Cost: Free to enter, but you will have to pay for the miniature trains and carnival rides! 👍👍
Parking: Limited but adequate street parking! 👍👍👍
Access: No problems at all - pram friendly! 👍👍👍👍
Entertainment: That's what this event is all about! 👍👍👍
Best for: Probably best for kids between 3 and 10! 👍👍👍
Wildlife: Not too much to see here (although we did see a talking polar bear!) 👍
Summary: A nice, simple day out for those in the north of Brisbane! Very easy to get around and enjoy what's on offer, it should keep you entertained for a good half day! 👍👍👍
Hints: Keep an eye out for similar events in your suburb!
Brisbane Family Explorers