REVAMP: An artist's impression of the Platypus Centre at the redeveloped Ipswich Nature Centre.
REVAMP: An artist's impression of the Platypus Centre at the redeveloped Ipswich Nature Centre. Contributed

Council considers $9m upgrade to popular tourist attraction

IPSWICH'S most popular tourist attraction is likely to undergo a seven-year, $9 million upgrade to keep pace with visitor demands; and more animals are expected.

The Ipswich Nature Centre, which has had no major updates in more than a decade, will be upgraded as part of a larger plan to improve the atmosphere of Queens Park.

As part of the upgrade the city could get a few more residents, with lizards, koalas, platypus and new bird enclosures expected.

A masterplan submitted to Ipswich City Council sketches changes required to improve the connectivity and significance of the park.

It went before the council's Environment Committee this week.

Interim Administrator Greg Chemello told the committee meeting he wanted more detail to be included in the report, which will likely be tabled at next month's round of meetings for further discussion.

The masterplan recommends expanding the nature centre and creating a riverine and wetland area, forests, a nocturnal enclosure and backyard animal precinct.

New enclosures, like a platypus and koala centre, is proposed to be built.

Architects suggest maximising the existing waterway and creating additional water networks "to take better advantage of water as a feature within the centre".

Land between the nature centre, Nerima Gardens and Queens Park Cafe is also suggested to be redeveloped to present a more welcoming site.

A Discovery Hub visitor centre with smart technology and cultural displays is suggested to act as a prominent entrance to the nature centre.

Improving the city's connection to its Aboriginal heritage through interactive displays is also proposed.

The masterplan aims to improve the flow of the area and links the nature centre to the cafe and Nerima Gardens.

Architects noted the difficulty in finding entrances for the centre and gardens.

Ipswich Nature Centre opened in 1999 and has since grown to welcome on average 300,000 tourists each year; the city's most popular tourist attraction.

It is the oldest and only free zoo in southeast Queensland.

"With the city's continued growth in population and tourism numbers, it is timely for council to consider the next stage in the Nature Centre's lifecycle," the report notes.