Friday, October 8, 2010

Ipswich Workshops Rail Museum

Outings to the Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich have always been a great hit with our family. Our first visit was to see Thomas the Tank Engine, who has recently been at the museum just after Christmas for about a month.
There are a range of themes during the school holidays. We've been to The Great Train Robbery, the model train display, which includes a visit by Bob the Builder, The Toyland Express, The Circus Train, as well as Easter and Christmas events.
The annual pass is great value for money as it costs the equivalent of two visits to the Museum, and gives you free entry for the year, as well as a discount at the restaurant and shop. The first time we went we upgraded to the annual pass after paying our entry fee and being there for part of the day. And by the end of that summer holiday we had returned again.
Slade and Kai have enjoyed every event that they've been to, and are really excited to hear about what's coming up next.
At each event there are a range of activities, most of which are included in the entry fee. These have included games to play, or creative activities, involving colouring in, cutting out, sticking and stapling and shows.
At some events the kids have played with toy train sets and lego trains. There was an animal petting experience at the Easter event and there are regular mini train rides and a jumping castle. The little train ride and on occasion the jumping castle are paid activities ($3 each), as was the making of a wooden train ($6.50 when we visited). During the circus experience there was ring and bean bag tossing, balancing beams and mini stilts.
In addition to the activities that are specifically related to the event, there are general activities and exhibits. There is also a Behind the Scenes tour of the working workshops. This is a 30 minute tour into the real working workshops. You get to see Queensland Railway's Heritage Rollingstock Maintenance and what is being work on at the time of your visit. There is also an opportunity to do into the Blacksmith Shop.
We've eaten at the restaurant once, but mostly just take our own picnic. There are a few tables and marquees for people to have picnics, and I've also read that you can order picnics from the restaurant.
The museum is also involved in organising steam train rides. There is a discount on these rides for annual pass members.

The very first train to run in Queensland steamed from the site of the Workshops to Bigges Camp, now Grandchester, over 140 years ago. For decades the site was the centre of rail construction, maintenance and technology for Queensland's burgeoning rail industry. Over 200 steam locomotives were constructed there.
The Workshops were at their peak during World War II and was the largest State employer at the time with over 3,000 people working on the site.
In addition to being a museum, The Workshops Rail Museum is also the oldest continually operating railway workshops in Australia.

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