Drove through more dense bush and past some majestic lakes then onto flood plains and manicured wheat fields at Fernvale. We were surprised how close we were to Brisbane (about 40km) yet we were still in the country. Drove onto Ipswich and stopped for a few days at the showground. We hadn't been to Ipswich before and didn't know what to expect, but while it is a large city of 150,000, it still felt like a manageable town rather than a suburb of Brisbane. Being so close to Brisbane it seems to have a dual personality, always overshadowed by its big brother but determined to stand on its own feet. It has a distinctive character and all the facilities you would expect in any city.
We enjoyed wandering around the shops and had a look at some old churches and public buildings as well as the art gallery. At the gallery they had a 2m high tunnel which was a giant kaleidoscope and we had a lot of fun making different patterns by standing in front of it. Ipswich has a beautiful river walk, which was opened last year after the major floods of 2011. It seems every town in Queensland that is on a river has been hit by bad floods in the past few years.
Ipswich has also followed other towns in building a new and vibrant shopping centre out of the CBD, thus changing the old shopping centre into a virtual wasteland. We had a lovely time wandering round the town and found interesting little stores (and op shops) tucked away, as well as a decent antique centre and a modern art gallery. On Saturday we got up early to go to a giant antique fair that was held in the showground. There were a great variety of interesting antiques for sale and despite dire warnings from Peter, Heather managed to pick up some more pieces, including a pedigree doll from her childhood. We then went to a Hand Made market, where Heather picked up some ideas on using the materials she had collected.
On Sunday we got up early again for a local market that yet again was held at the showground – just a short walk from the motorhome. After breakfast we had a look at the Classic Car Festival, where we were entertained by Rock n Roll bands and saw some amazing retro cars and caravans. We were amazed at how popular the 50's and 60's look is becoming with lots of 'young folk' getting into retro clothes, accessories and cars. Peter was rather chuffed with his purchase of the Humber Sceptre when he saw how people now appreciate 50's cars. Peter bought a retro handbag for Heather made out of old records from a group called The Radiators.
After that we went to the Ipswich Railway Workshop Museum for an open day. Peter's grandfather worked for the Queensland Railways so he was interested in the workings of the workshops, which were much larger than the Eveleigh Workshop in Sydney and employed over 3,000 people. The museum was very well set out and explained the numerous jobs that were necessary to build the trains and carriages. It also had an art show based around the Steam Punk theme with amazing sculptures, paintings and photos.
We finished the day with another opening of an art show in town and then we had intended to leave but decided to spend another night here to recover before heading off down the coast.