Marburg is only a short drive from Queensland’s capital city of Brisbane, but it may as well be a complete world away. Stretching across both sides of the winding Warrego Highway that connects Brisbane to Charleville, this small town has retained its yesteryear charms.
There are so many things to do in Ipswich and its surrounding area. These six cool places to visit in Marburg are just some of them.
Quick Marbug Facts
Things to do in Marburg Qld
Soul Nook Collective
A hop step and a jump back from the main street of Marburg you’ll find one of the best experiences in Marburg and in South-East Queensland. Utilising the beautifully restored Old Church Marburg, owner Taryn Ryan has created the perfect destination. Inside the former German Baptist Church, stained windows allow the light to shine down on a range of personally curated boutique fashion.
Unique giftware is dispersed throughout and you’ll be sure to find something for your home in the form of hand-crafted decor items.
Soul Nook Collective raises the ante outside in the church grounds. It is here that you will find a unique experience, on a par with anything you’d find in larger cities. Shaded by the magnificent trees that have stood the test of time, you’ll find the perfect way to spend a few hours, or even a day.
Styled picnics are the way to go here. For couples, try the Pod Picnic. Here you can have gourmet food delivered to you as you lounge back on soft cushions and throw rugs. Bring your own wine, kick back and listen to music often provided by local musicians.
For larger groups, think hen’s parties, birthday parties or a girl’s day out, the Bell tents are perfect. There’s plenty of space inside and are more private than the smaller pods. All styling and food options are organised in advance. All you need to do is turn up with your friends or family, bring some wine, and enjoy the experience.
Owner Taryn Ryan was excited about the demand for the styled picnics, especially the new additions of the pods, noting “they are great for couples, and we were sold out on Valentine’s Day” but we are yet to see a proposal here. We are hoping to soon.”
The Soul Nook Collective offers something for everyone, providing both a destination for special events and space where locals can come and hangout. Workshops (crystal bracelet making, floristry, meditation) take place every weekend. A mini produce market, supporting local producers takes place every Friday from 9 am – 11 am and a weekly puzzle club meets on Thursday.
Head to the Soul Nook Collective website for details on the styled picnics, upcoming events and opening times.
Scotland Yard Antiques
Anyone who has ever driven the highway from Brisbane to Toowoomba will have seen the antique signs dotted in amongst the grassy fields. I’ve been watching those signs for years and not once had I ventured into town to have a look. As I arrived at Scotland Yard, a Marburg institution, I realised how much history, adventure and experience we can miss that is right under our own nose.
Les Birnie, a proud Scotsman with his accent still firmly intact has been at the helm of Scotland Yard Antiques for around 30 years. Born in the Scottish Highlands town of Tomintoul, he left his homeland behind to follow his heart, making the town of Marburg his own.
At 73 years of age, Les has been in the antique game since 1961. He is showing no signs of slowing down, still operating his store seven days a week. Inside you’ll find large pieces of period furniture mixed in with dainty teacups and saucers, bomber jackets, books and magazines. There’s a large volume of product inside, but unlike some antique stores, there seems to be a place for everything.
Outside in the yard, it’s a fossicker’s dream with bits and pieces of memorabilia located under ageing sheds.
Special Branch Collective
The Birnie family connection is strong in Marburg, with Les’s daughter Emily taking up residence in a small shop a few metres down the road from Scotland Yard.
Showing that you don’t need a large space to wow visitors with your product, Emily’s shop blends indoor decor items, with plants (sourced from their family nursery) and garden ornaments. Retail therapy seems to be a good word to associate with this calming space.
Coffee, sourced from a local supplier is also on offer, and it’s hard to say no to the delicious melting moments with candy pink icing that scream out at me to be eaten from the countertop.
Sharing his father’s love of antiques with a penchant for unique, contemporary design pieces, Athol Birnie completes the cultural trifecta along the main street of Marburg. Athol “prides himself on not having a particular theme, and loves being able to personally curate what is in store”.
An enormous pair of teakwood elephants have made their way from Thailand and now take pride of place at the front of the store. A stroll through here will uncover Georgian furniture, a chaise lounge, an antique washstand and many striking, one-off design pieces.
Where possible, Athol sources his pieces from the local and South East Queensland area, but goes further afield as well in search for special items that catch his eye.
Imbibis Craft Gin Distillery
Under the roof still bearing the faded winery sign of former owners Warrego Wines, a gin maker is now making his mark in the busy craft gin market.
Owner Jason Hannay is no stranger to this shed located in Haigslea, just off the Warrego Highway. When Warrego Wines was in its prime, Jason was the winemaker. After many years working here and for other wine labels, Jason decided it was time to step out on his own.
In 2019, Imbibis Craft Gin was formed and by December bespoke bottles of gin, carefully crafted with Jason’s signature recipe and still, were ready for bottling. Then COVID hit, and the new business was thrust into a scenario that wasn’t expected.
Swiftly, the business was turned towards something that had significant market demand. As a manufacturer of alcohol, Jason was able to produce hand sanitiser. This highly sought after product “stopped the business from going under”, Jason reflected. He also spent the time during the ensuing lockdown period to develop new products.
The Imbibis gin range now stands at three: the signature drop Clarity, The Three Myrtles and Passion. There’s also a cheeky brandy on offer too if gin doesn’t take your fancy.
Local ingredients are used as much as possible in the manufacture of Imbibis gin. Olive leaves are sourced from nearby Cedar Gully Olives (Mulgowie), Jason grows lemon myrtle and some of the botanicals included in this fine drop have been foraged for.
Any misconception that drinking gin is standard irrespective of brand or indeed location is cleared up as soon as Jason starts telling you about his particular brew. “Gin is not made like this anywhere else in Australia”, says Jason, also noting “it’s all about my still. I can make this same recipe on another still and it will taste different. There is a specific flavour and texture that can’t be replicated without the use of his self-designed still.”
Currently tours and tasting are by appointment only. Visit the Imbibis website for more details.
There’s nothing better than visiting an old pub in a country town. It goes next level however when you get to spend lunch with a family member who is one of the three generations who has held the Marburg Hotel across an 80 year period. Once upon a time, there were three pubs in town. Today, the Marburg Hotel is the only one that remains standing.
The hotel has had a facelift on the outside and now the inside is being shown some modern-day love and affection, with rooms and bathrooms on the second story being updated.
We catch up with Dan Bowden, whose parents first purchased the pub in 1944. Dan proudly tells us about the pub’s history, and how he used to sleep not far from where I am eating the delicious plate of home made lasagne. His bedroom, and those of his siblings and parents are long gone, the dining room having taken over.
As I continue to smash my way through a typically generous pub meal, Dan regales us with stories about ghosts that live upstairs, the presence of General McArthur in the area, and indigenous history.
Where is Marburg?
Marburg is located in the Ipswich City Council region of South-East Queensland. It is approximately 59 kilometres south-south-west of Brisbane, 69 kilometres east of Toowoomba and 23 kilometres from Ipswich.
The easiest and most direct way to get to Marburg is by car.
Things to do near Marburg
Unless you are a huge fan of antiques or plan to spend hours at a picnic at the Soul Nook Collective, a trip to Marburg can be squeezed in with a visit to other locations nearby.
Woodlands of Marburg is also a must visit when in the town.
The Ipswich region is a hive of cultural adventures and is a growing foodie destination as well. Adjacent to Ipswich is the areas of the Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim. Both of these regions also have an abundant food trail and many experiences that showcase local producers and business people.
Some of these are listed here.
Read the following articles for full details on how to plan a day trip that includes Marburg. Better still, stay overnight at either Woodlands of Marburg or the Tallavalley Farmstay, so you can fit in even more experiences in these local areas.
The following can all be done as day trips from Brisbane.
Where to eat in Marburg
In a “blink and you’ll miss it” location on the busy highway, The Girls Coffee Bar has spent 10 years carving out the perfect roadside stop. Located halfway between Brisbane and Toowoomba, owners Katrina and Julie offer a welcome rest stop for those weary from travelling.
With an equal mix of good country hospitality and some mighty fine sausage rolls that ”walk out the door every day”, according to Katrina, it’s little wonder this small business has become a must-visit in the Ipswich area.
Along with breakfast items, there are homemade treats on offer, most of which are made daily onsite. You can also find their delicious sauces. Under the Girls Gourmet Foods label, you’ll find a tasty sauce to put on your steak, a sticky rib sauce, or a fiery chilli concoction. Wherever possible, local producers are used.
Make your way to the Special Branch Collective for great coffee and tasty locally-made sweet treats. The melting moment will be hard to pass up.
It’s hard to go past the Marburg Hotel. Sit on the wide verandah of the pub and watch the world go by, even if it’s a little slower than you are used to.
It’s therapeutic to get out of the rat race for a while. Head inside for a “cold one” at the public bar where you’ll be sure to hear some great stories from the locals, or just enjoy hearing them laugh as they catch up with their mates for a yarn.
Eat in the dining room and enjoy hearty country fare, where the portions will ensure you don’t leave hungry, and probably won’t need to worry too much about dinner either.
Open only on weekends, Tommy Smith’s Cafe at Woodlands of Marburg is also a possible lunch option.
Whilst the restaurant at Woodlands of Marburg is currently closed, cafe Tommy Smith serves up dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.
Where to stay in Marburg
There are many accommodation options in and around Marburg.
For a complete country experience, consider staying the night at the Marburg Hotel right in the centre of town.
Tallavalley Farm B&B
Staying in a local B&B or farm stay completes the rural experience. At Tallavalley Farm B&B, country hospitality is on display from the moment you arrive. Owners David and Joanne Baker are locals and live nearby their farm property. They are happy to be as involved (or absent) as guests like.
Set on 47 acres, it’s the perfect place to end a day wandering around Marburg and its surrounds. After a busy day, come back for drinks on the covered outdoor deck. In winter, the fireplace inside will be the star attraction. Horses, goats, chickens and cows will surround you in this fully fenced, dog friendly three bedroom, two bathroom house.
This location has tranquility written all over it. Seemingly miles from anywhere, yet only two kilometres from the main highway.
Also located close to Marburg, Offerton House offers a two bedroom, two bathroom option set on a seven acre property. The house (lived in by owners) and annex have been built using a sustainable design process.
Woodlands of Marburg
Accommodation at Woodlands of Marburg is in the form of executive and deluxe suites, in a dedicated building once the home of missionaries.
Spicers Hidden Vale
At the luxury end of accommodation near Marburg is the beautiful Spicers Hidden Vale. Located only 20 kilometres from Marburg or an hour’s drive from Brisbane, Spicers Hidden Vale is a destination all on its own. With stunning mountain views, country cottages, premium dining and the opportunity to either relax or hit the hiking or horse trails nearby, it offers something for everyone.
Beer and Croissants was a guest of the City of Ipswich. As part of their visitor experience program, they provide their Visitor Information Centre volunteers a hands on experience of places and things to do in their region. I simply tagged along for the ride.