There is a four letter word we don't hear often enough anymore. Free. And something free for the kids? Forget it! But Ipswich Nature Centre is bucking the trend. Here you can get the fun of the zoo without any hassle and without spending a cent.
Ipswich Nature Centre is located within the grounds of Queens Park. There is plenty of parking within the park grounds, and there is also a dedicated car park for Nature Centre visitors. A pram and wheelchair friendly boardwalk guides you around the animal enclosures. Along the way there are a few shortcuts in case your little ones are getting impatient, and some seats to rest weary legs. The exhibits have been designed to reflect local bushland and flora communities, and sit within a lush, shady garden.
The number of animals here really is impressive. There are Kangaroos, emus, snakes, lots of water birds and plenty of lizards running around. Diary of a wombat fan? You can see wombats enjoying all of their favourite pass times; digging, eating and sleeping. The walk through Bird Aviary allows you to see our feathered friends in their own habitat. There are also some farmyard favourites in the Australian Barn. Watch out for Clancy the Goat. He may seem friendly but he will bite. If the kids have gotten a little too close to the enclosures there is a tap and soap to wash those germs away.
Each enclosure has an information plaque. Older kids will be able to read all about their favourite animals and learn about their habits and habitats. You can use these plaques to appear informed when little ones ask difficult questions like what do spotted tailed quolls eat or where do emus sleep. The animals aren't shy, and are always out and about amusing the visitors. In my experience, the only animal with a little stage fright is the guinea pig who will only come out if it is very quiet.
Feeding time in the barn area is held at 11.30am each day. If it's feeding time for you, Queens Park has plenty of room for a picnic, as well as barbecue facilities. Or visit the café for a cold drink, meal or coffee. And if the kids still have energy to burn, you will find more than enough play equipment to wear them out.
On your way out, drop a gold coin in the box. The money raised goes to the maintenance of the animals and their enclosures. And it will help to keep Ipswich Nature Centre free, so you can come back again and again and again.