Queens Park Environmental Education Centre offers locals, visitors (and especially families) the chance to learn more about Ipswich’s unique natural environment, waterways, and sustainability themes. Located in the heart of the city’s beloved Queens Park, kids can get hands-on with this delightful, interactive, playful learning environment.
Queens Park Environmental Education Centre features
The Queens Park Environmental Education Centre was built over a decade ago and designed with one focus. To educate visitors on the local Ipswich environment by highlighting its colourful array of unique flora and fauna and demonstrating how we live with it can impact it.
Created as an educational journey for young and old, the centre overflows with interactive games, hands-on activities, videos and brightly painted wall murals that are designed to captivate and educate its guests. Spread out generously over three main spaces, some of the centre’s core messages include:
- getting to know the local flora and fauna
- how to reduce, reuse and recycle household waste
- what you can place in your compost bin or worm farm
- places you can go around Ipswich to explore the great outdoors on foot, pushbike, or horseback
- handy household tips to reduce your carbon footprint
- how we can all improve our waterways
Queens Park Environmental Education Centre – The Fun
Nestled into Queens Park and directly across the road from its famed kids’ playground and Nature Centre, visitors often overlook the Environmental Education Centre. Unassuming and subtle with its brown bricked facade on the outside, it gives very little away from the colourful and fun world that resides within it.
The Fig Tree
Upon entering the centre, it is pretty hard not to be transfixed by the giant ‘growing’ fig tree that canopies the entrance. Staff at the main desk smile a warm welcome but the kids are already lost, scrambling straight into the large opening at its base, invitingly filled with soft blankets and cushions for them. Cleverly designed, it has captured its audience so effectively that it takes them a minute to realise it the first of many learning experiences within the centre.
After slowly venturing out, they read on its trunk how it is filled with numerous local animals and asks them, “how many can you spot?” Challenge accepted. As they delight with each new wildlife discovery the wind around the trunk and find themselves in the next section of the centre, as it opens up to reveal two spaces of bright, colourful and fun interactive activities.
The Interactive Learning Space
If you are planning to visit the centre with your children then I would allow a generous amount of time to do so. With so much going on and abundant important information to share, I found that my three children started wandering through this together but were eventually drawn to different areas they stayed in for quite a while.
The first main room held their attention for the longest, with its wall-size animated mural of the Ipswich waterways and many interactive activities to explore. Here they delighted in the sensory box – where they stuck their hands into one of many holes and tried to guess what they felt within. There was also the worm farm, several real bird nests they could try to identify, and even a lift-the-flap guessing game on which animal had left behind which ‘remnants’ (which, of course, my son loved the most).
A wooden triangular-roofed cubby spot gifted animal puzzles to solve and a chalkboard where they were encouraged to write words or draw pictures of their own flood experiences. Nearby, a suitably low table was set up for the youngest visitors, with soft wombats and other native animals and their homes to play in.
The Wildlife Room
One of the most eye-catching areas in the Environmental Education Centre is the sizeable wall-length mural that leads guests into the final space. Absolutely stunning, the colourful design features many of Ipswich’s local wildlife, on the trees, in the picture and even as a soft toy along the floor. Perfect for all ages to interact with, the soft fake grass flooring is the perfect place for little ones to sit, play with the toys and completely immerse themselves in the man-made environment.
Visitors, young and old, will enjoy pushing the red buttons found hidden on each tree along the mural, which emits sounds of the environment around them as well as the animals that inhabit it.
Also, a large table has been set up in this space with colour-in printouts and pencils for crafty kids. A separate space, with chairs and blankets on the ground, displays a video on the marsupials that reside in Ipswich and the way they have evolved over time to adapt to their surroundings.
Other things to do while in Queens Park
After you have explored all of the different spaces within the Environmental Education Centre, you will not have to venture far outside the doors to find other wonderful experiences you can share with your kids. While in the area, why not check out:
The Ipswich Nature Centre
The much-loved Ipswich Nature Centre is to the left and slightly down the hill from the centre. Sticking with the practically free cost of a day at Queens Park, the Nature Centre only asks for a gold coin donation to enter. Like a mini-zoo, the centre’s pram-friendly wooden ramps wind invitingly between enclosures and beneath trees, around ponds and past cascading water features. Along the way, kids can marvel at an array of native animals, including kangaroos, wombats, goats, bulls, chickens, snakes, emus and bilbies – to name a few.
Queens Park Playground
The state-of-the-art playground provides all the usual equipment kids love but also comes complete with a flying fox, sunken train, water pump play area, liberty swing and climbing wall. There are fort structures, twin tunnel slides (perfect for racing), a hammock, a large climbing net, numerous swings and spinners and much more to explore here.
The ‘Japanese Gardens of Ipswich’, Nerima Gardens seeks to capture the elements of a Japanese-style garden whilst retaining a distinctly Ipswich identity through local plants, including rare and endangered species. The manicured gardens, picturesque lakes and pathways and mini bridges that weave around and over them make this a simply stunning place to go for if you are looking for some peaceful time immersed in nature.
Queens Garden Cafe
If you didn’t have time to pack a picnic but are planning to spend a full day at Queens Park (this is VERY easy to do) then you will love to hear there is an on-site cafe here too. The Queens Park Cafe’s wide deck and delicious menu make for the perfect mid-day break for hungry families looking to unwind.
Queens Park Environmental Education Centre – helpful information
Address: Queens Park, Merle Finimore Avenue, Ipswich
Phone: (07) 3810 6666
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 9am – 2pm | School holidays Monday – Saturday: 9am – 2pm
Puggles Play Time
Every Friday during school term the youngest members of the community and their grown-ups are invited to share in story time and an environmentally themed activity. Designed for children aged 5 and under, anyone can drop by between 9.30am-11.30am to join in.
School Holiday Activities
Drop into the centre during school holidays to see what free and educational activities are on offer! Activities requiring registration are available on the Eventbrite page Ipswichcitycouncil.eventbrite.com
If you love to learn all about our Australian environment and wildlife you might also enjoy: