I'm a mother of four with two coeliac children. I'm always on the lookout for great gluten-free spots around Brisbane and feature gluten-free cooking in my blog: coeliacfamily.blogspot.com.au
I'm also a muso and enjoy live music around town.
Hidden in the back of Ipswich, but mere streets from the city centre lies a patch of bushland with a fascinating history. Denmark Hills Conservation Park is a former coal mine and the site of a massive fossil deposit whose excavation uncovered some of the most important fossils in Australian history.
In the 1890's fossils were discovered and continued to be unearthed for the next thirty years. These fossils dated from the Triassic Period (between 210 and 250 million years ago) and are mostly insect fossils. Giant lacewings, dragon flies and cockroach ancestors are amongst the fossils, which provided interesting research for scientists all around the world.
The park celebrates this part of it's history with a display which features casts of some of the finds found in the area, including bones, giant wombat footprints, fossilised insect wings and gardens representing some of the types of plants which may have existed in the area during it's early history. My kids were excited to trace the outlines of the insects, follow the footprints and examine the "bones" protruding from the earth.
In 1912 coal deposits were discovered under the mountain, sparking a mining operation which lasted until 1959. The subsequent bush land regeneration provides a haven for birdlife, koalas and lizards in the heart of Ipswich. The mining tunnels are a maze below the park's surface and are now safely sealed, however evidence of the mining industry can be seen in the form of coal deposits on the paths and the metal and stone remains of the old tramway which was used to haul coal from the deposit.
With its own water supply and natural habitat, the park is home to a host of water dragons, koalas and birdlife. While we tried hard to spot a koala, there didn't appear to be any wishing to make an appearance on the day we visited. We did however spend time watching a water bird fishing in the water hole and heard the calls of many birds.
The tracks are relatively easy to negotiate, with just a few steps as you head up to the water tower to see the 360 degree views of Ipswich. My four year old happily traipsed around with us for an hour without any complaints. There are picnic tables at the Quarry Street entrance (where you will also find carparking), along with amenities. A nicely placed bench overlooks the water hole for a pleasant spot to watch the birdlife.
For a short jaunt in the bush which is not too hard yakka, I would head out to Denmark Hills for a picnic and walk with a bit of history thrown in for good measure.