Ipswich Workshops Rail Museum
Arriving in Australia in December, we soon noticed adverts about Thomas the Tank Engine's visit to the Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich. With two young Thomas fans, we decided that this would be a wonderful treat for just after Christmas. Part way through that first visit we enquired about the annual pass, which is available for the cost of two family visits, and there and then upgraded our tickets. By the end of the summer holiday we had returned again, and since then we've visited another three times.
The museum has events throughout the year with Thomas running just after Christmas until the end of the summer holidays, an Easter celebration in April, the Toy Express event during the Easter school holiday and the Circus Train event during the recent July holiday. My children have enjoyed every event, and are really excited to hear about what's coming up next. The Fat Controller told stories during the Thomas event, there was a room full of model trains to play with, as well as a small train giving rides and a jumping castle. During the Easter event, the children enjoyed playing with farm animals and during the Toy Express the children made an engine out of wood. Most activities are included in the entrance fee, with the exception of the mini train rides ($3.00) and the train making activity ($6.50). Art and craft activities at the events include pictures to colour in, or things to make (such as a head band with bunny ears at the Easter event) and activities such as ring and bean bag tossing, balancing beams and mini-stilt walking at the circus event.
In addition to free entry into the museum for 12 months, annual pass holders also get discounted steam train tickets, and a 10% discount in the museum shop and café as well as discounts at several other Queensland museums.
The September holiday event is The Great Train Robbery, Bob the Builder makes appearances in October, Santa arrives at the end of November, there's a Christmas celebration early in December and Thomas returns just after Christmas. There's certainly enough going on for us to make the most of our annual pass.
South Bank in the heart of Brisbane is full of wonderful things to experience. Although there are shops and restaurants in the area, we generally head to the water. There's a great water play park and Australia's only beach in the middle of a city. All this overlooks the Brisbane River and the central business district.
Interestingly, South Bank was originally the business heart of Brisbane, but following floods in 1893, the central business district was relocated to higher ground on the north side of the river. By 1930, South Bank had established itself as a bustling river port and industrial zone buzzing with markets, wharves, dance halls and theatres.
The area declined and even the 1977 decision of the Queensland government to build the Performing Arts Centre there made little impact. When South Bank was selected as the site for World Expo '88 in 1984, the area had been reduced to a near-derelict port with a couple of old hotels and a handful of industrial buildings.
The Expo was the prime catalyst for the resurrection of South Bank and by the time the Expo ended, over 18 million people had visited South Bank. At the end of the Expo, the Queensland government intended to sell South Bank for commercial development, but locals had realised its potential as a public space and lobbying resulted in 17 hectares of South Bank remaining public parkland.