Approx. one hour west of Brisbane, the Ipswich region has over 550 public parks and conservation reserves. These parks contain a network of maintained trails through landscaped parklands, native bushland, through valleys and over mountain ridges to entice hikers and mountain bikers from beginners to hardcore thrillseekers. Here’s our guide to some of the most interesting biking and hiking trails around Ipswich by FIONA HARPER
Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate
The Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate has a range of trails for walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders at Hardings Paddock and Flinders Plum. Trails range from leisurely 560m long strolls to a moderately challenging 19km walk which takes approx. six hours to complete. There’s an easy 2.4km return walk from Hardings Paddock along the Rocky Knoll Lookout trail which weaves through eucalypt forests and offers picturesque views of valleys and peaks from the Scenic Rim to Moreton Bay islands.
Popular with bird-watchers and nature-lovers, the conservation estate supports extensive forests and rugged volcanic peaks including Flinders Peak, Mt Blaine, Mt Goolman and Mt Catherine. The area is an important wildlife refuge and is home to diverse species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians and hundreds of native plants.
Castle Hill Blackstone Reserve
Castle Hill Blackstone Reserve is considered a walking and riding museum with its culture-rich mining heritage linked by over 13km of trails ranging from 300m to 1.1km. With over 15 IMBA-rated mountain bike trails rated from easy to difficult, Castle Hill caters to all levels of mountain bikers. This iconic biking destination is best known for its technical single track routes which can challenge the most experienced riders.
Walking trails vary from 750m to 1.5km and are signposted to take walkers on a historic walk through back to the 19th century when coal mining was prolific. Hand-dug mine shafts and tunnels and remnants of the famed Castle and underground coal fires provide a glimpse into Blackstone’s fascinating history.
Blackstone is sacred to traditional owners, the Yagara People, and the area has many sacred sites which reach back tens of thousands of years. Some of these sacred sites include quarry sites, traditional food resources, story places, camp sites, fighting grounds, ceremonial sites, bora rings and women’s business sites which remain important to traditional owners and are to be respected.
White Rock – Spring Mountain Conservation Estate
The walking and mountain biking trails of White Rock – Spring Mountain Conservation Estate vary in length from an easy 200m to a more challenging 19km round-trip trail. In between is a 6.5km (allow approx. 3 hours) return trip to the base of White Rock. All trails are multi-use for walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders.
The park features distinctive sculptured rock outcrops, forested ridges, escarpments dropping down into valleys and is inhabited by abundant native Australian wildlife. Within the park are unique ecosystems and species associated with weathered remnants of sandstone ridges and bluffs. Over 600 plant species and 150 animal species have been identified. Some are listed as threatened or endangered such as the powerful owl, peregrine falcon and the plunkett mallee which is featured as the Council’s floral emblem.
Purga Nature Reserve
The highlights of Purga Nature Reserve include the largest protected area of endangered Swamp Tea-Tree forest in the world. Savour the chance to view grazing wallabies and flowering orchids amongst elegant, weeping foliage. Keep a look out for resident koalas too while walking along the raised boardwalks. Trails are rated easy and are no longer than 500m, with the reserve a short drive from downtown Ipswich.
Denmark Hill Conservation Estate
Denmark Hill has a selection of easy walking trails up to 1km in length making it a perfect destination for families with young children or walkers that are short on time but still want to enjoy nature trails. The highlight is stunning views of Ipswich city and surrounding countryside on the Denmark Hill Water Tower circuit (approx. 20 mins). On a clear day the Brisbane city skyline is also visible.
The conservation estates was established as a reserve in the 1880’s and has a rich history linked to the discovery of fossils along with 19th century coal mining activity. Triassic Park offers the opportunity to explore replicas of fossils found in the area. Short walks around the pond are good for bird watching and learning more about the park’s mining history.
Haig Street Quarry Reserve
The Haig Street Quarry Reserve is a suburban oasis providing splendid views of Cunninghams Gap, the Great Dividing Range, Teviot Range and the striking Flinders Peak. Popular with bird watchers thanks to an abundant water supply, Haig Street Quarry is ideal for families with its easy to moderate walking trails no longer than 1km. The Bearded Dragon Circuit is approx. 800m long (approx. 20 mins) and winds its way gently up to the water tower. Keep an eye out for birds on the Willy Wagtail Circuit as it weaves its way forest along the shore of Quarry Pond.
Plane spotters won’t find a better location to watch planes taking off and landing at Amberley RAAF Base, while flower lovers will adore the impressive wildflower displays during Spring.