Ipswich is an urban centre in south-east Queensland, Australia. Situated on the Bremer River, it is approximately west of the Brisbane CBD. The locality of the same name forms the Central Activities District, business and administrative centre of the City of Ipswich. The City of Ipswich has an estimated population of 185,000.
Once a large city of its own, today it has become subsumed into the Brisbane metropolitan area due to urban sprawl and is a part of Brisbane for statistical purposes. It is a major commercial and industrial area that is currently undergoing major transit-oriented urban renewal, which was first planned in the Ipswich Regional Centre Strategy.
It began as a mining settlement and was proclaimed as a municipality on 2 March 1860, and became a city in 1904.
Ipswich is home to the Safe City camera network installed into nine suburbs to date with further expansions proposed in the coming years. 180 cameras are monitored 24/7 from a facility situated within the CBD. The Ipswich City Council Safe City Monitoring Facility has hosted representatives of law enforcement agencies from the Netherlands, Taiwan, Great Britain and approximately twenty-five local authorities from across Australia to inspect the camera monitoring system.
Plans are underway for Ipswich to contain the largest gas-fired power station in Australia and two new gas-fired power stations.
Prior to the arrival of European settlers, what is now called Ipswich was home to many indigenous language groups, including the Warpai tribe, Yuggera and Ugarapul Indigenous Australian groups. The area was first explored by European colonists in 1826, when Captain Patrick Logan, Commandant of the Moreton Bay penal colony, sailed up the Brisbane River and discovered large deposits of limestone and other minerals.
The town began as a limestone mining settlement and grew rapidly as a major inland port. Ipswich was initially named Limestone, however in 1843 it was renamed after the town of Ipswich in England. The population was 932 in 1851 and had risen to 2459 by 1856. It became a municipality in 1858. Ipswich was a prime candidate for becoming capital of Queensland, but failed in its bid in favour of Brisbane in 1859. It was proclaimed a city in 1904.
In 1827, the first convicts and overseers arrived to mine the area. The town that built around this industry became known as Limestone and is remembered by one of the main streets through the Ipswich city centre. In 1843, the settlement officially became known as Ipswich. The name change was proposed by surveyor Henry Wade and approved by Sir George Gipps, a soldier and Governor of New South Wales. The town of Ipswich in England was once called Gipeswic, derived from the Old English for "workplace by water".
From the 1840s onward, Ipswich was becoming an important river port for the growing local industries such as coal, and wool from the Darling Downs, so a regular paddlesteamer service from Brisbane Town, 'The Experiment', was established in 1846. This, and other steamer services, remained the primary form of mass/bulk transport between the two cities until 1876, when the construction of the original Albert Bridge, spanning the Brisbane River at Indooroopilly, completed the railway line begun between Ipswich and Brisbane in 1873.
Father William McGinty, a native of Northern Ireland, took charge of Ipswich Roman Catholic Parish in 1852 and had the first St Mary's Church built. This building was described as "a rude slab building of small dimensions, without glass windows, only shutters." This church was later demolished and replaced by a "beautiful stone edifice of Gothic design" as quoted from a member of the church community. That was the old St. Mary's and it cost £7,000 in 1862.
Ipswich was proclaimed as a municipality on 2 March 1860 and became a city in 1904. The old Ipswich Town Hall, now an art gallery, served as the town hall from 1869 to about 1892, when it was found to be too small. It is on the Queensland Heritage Register. Damaging flooding has occurred on numerous occasions, the largest being the 1893 Brisbane flood peaking at 24.5 m, and more recently during the 1974 Brisbane Flood, peaking in Ipswich at 20.7 m. Collectively, 8500 houses were flooded in Ipswich and Brisbane. In the 1893 flood seven workers were killed at a colliery in north Ipswich as the Bremer River broke its banks.
In the 1980s and the 1990s, with land in nearby Brisbane becoming fully developed, and very expensive for housing, many new large scale housing estates became attractive for buyers in Ipswich with lower prices and bigger lots. Such new housing estates sprung up in Goodna, Brassall, Springfield Lakes, Collingwood Park, Redbank Plains with acreage estates in Karalee, Barellan Point, and Chuwar. The first masterplanned community in South East Queensland was subsequently established at Springfield.