Where is it: Leaving from Bundamba Racecourse, Ipswich.
What’s it all about: Another one of Ipswich’s excellent rail experiences! Get to ride on a vintage train - either steam or diesel powered – and learn a little about Queensland’s rail heritage!
How can I join in: Buy your tickets online or at the station (we recommend online so that you are assured of your spot)! They run a number of different experiences so check their website for details!
Tell me more: A surprisingly easy to access experience is the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway (QPSR) which runs its heritage rail from Bundamba Racecourse - right in Ipswich! The sight of the old steam engine with smoke and steam billowing out is almost too good to resist, and we're sure that they have collected a few passengers who until they saw it, probably weren't planning on a heritage train trip!
QPSR runs their vintage steam an diesel locomotives, pulling retired Queensland Rail carriages generally once a month (they also do longer special trips at times - check out their website for more information) along a short section of track, before looping back and returning from the original departure point and taking about half an hour to complete the trip. There's no stopping or hopping off on the journey, so we think the half an hour is a good length for little kids. The train leaves for each trip every hour.
While the ride on the old carriages was fun and well worth taking, for us we probably enjoyed being on the platform more! Seeing the old steam train up close is truly impressive, and it's something that is a little hard to appreciate when you are sitting on the train. So we loved being on the platform for the half hour before the train departed again with the smoke and steam, the hisses and whistles, and the heat of the fire box! We could have watched it for hours! The volunteers are also really friendly and passionate about the train, and more than happy to have a chat and provide some more information about the train.
This is a really fun and authentic experience! The locomotive and carriages are well maintained and very comfortable for the short journey. There's an added bonus of coordinating with the Handmade Markets which is on at the same time across the road at the racecourse. The markets have lots of great products so they're great for doing a bit of shopping or even just browsing. You can also grab a bite to eat and there's always a few things going on for the kids - plus you can see the train pull in across the road every hour!
Websites: http://www.qpsr.net/ and http://www.thehandmadeexpo.com.au/ipswich.html
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
Brisbane Family Explorers