Flying high over Ipswich

The Road Ahead Journalist, Kerry Heaney, shares her helicopter tour experience over Ipswich.

Like a magic carpet, but much noisier, Captain Mike’s Robinson R44 helicopter floats down to land between the split-rail fenced paddock at Spicers Hidden Vale.

Director and chief pilot of Pterodactyl Helicopters, Mike Jarvis has arrived take me on a magical mystery tour of Ipswich’s food delights. With the wind beneath the blades and Mike at the joystick, it’s possible to enjoy more food experiences and destinations than you could in a car, plus it is a lot more fun.

A 40-minute drive from Ipswich’s CBD area, Spicers Hidden Vale offers luxury accommodation in elegantly-decorated cottages dating from the 1800s, overlooking panoramic valley views. The heart of the homestead is the hatted Homage Restaurant kitchen, where chef Ash Martin’s menu features the best produce from the property and the region, all hand-selected daily. It might be veggies fresh from the garden, freshwater crayfish from the dam or beef from the paddock.

Having just consumed a substantial breakfast of locally-sourced eggs and bacon on the homestead verandah, I’m keen for a smooth ride and Mike delivers. 

In just a few minutes we reach our first destination, Woodlands of Marburg, a plantation-style estate dominated by the elegant Woodlands mansion built in 1890. Originally home to Thomas and Mary Smith and their 11 children, the building was the first to have electricity installed in 1885, even before Brisbane’s Parliament House. Visitors can pre-book a tour. 

Popular as a wedding and conference venue, its age and chequered history have earned Woodlands a reputation for its paranormal activities. Check the Woodlands of Marburg Facebook page for more details on these or just enjoy a Devonshire Tea on the lawn, as I did.

Next stop on Captain Mike’s flying food safari was into the heart of Ipswich, known by locals at the ‘Top of Town’, and The Cottage, a cute Queenslander in Limestone Street dating back to 1861. Stop here for morning and high teas, lunch and fine dining at night.

Just a little way down Limestone Street, the redeveloped former Technical College is home to both Pumpyard Bar and Brewery and Dovetails. Check out the entrance posts, in which the names of past students have been carved, before tucking into the French-Australian fusion menu which includes Beeramisu (beer-flavoured tiramisu).

The beer theme continues next door at Pumpyard microbrewery where beer battered fries, fish and frickles (fried pickles) await. Here you can indulge in beer or bacon ice cream, complete with a choc chip cookie crumble and chocolate stout sauce topped with candied bacon. It was a pig out!

Finish the day with a Helicopter River Run, a glorious low-level flight winding along the upper reaches of the Brisbane River and landing at Pterodactyl’s Mount Crosby hanger. There my car was waiting, ready to magic me home though not in the same style I’d enjoyed all day with Captain Mike. 

Find out more about Captain Mike’s Pterodactyl Helicopter tours and Ipswich’s charms at discoveripswich.com.au.