While Bear’s true love will always be the Octonauts, he’s started having a dalliance with Thomas. His love of keeping Thomas Minis in every room of the house cripples his parents on a regular basis – those things are the new goddamn Lego. They multiply at the speed of light and hurt like the blazes when stepped on, with an uncanny ability to get right up in between your toes. Past all that though, playing trains with a toddler is one of the funnest things I’ve ever done. I love hearing him ‘toot toot’ and ‘chugga chugga’ and how he calls every single one of his toy trains Thomas but real trains are ‘trains’. I love how he sticks them in the shed and tells everyone to be ssh because they are going to sleep. So when I heard that The Railway Workshops were going to have their annual A Day Out With Thomas event, we were in hook, line and annual pass.
So What Are The Workshops?
The Workshops is a railway museum located in Ipswich, Queensland. It’s pretty unique, in that it is actually a working railway workshop that has been semi converted to a museum for train obsessed tots. As it’s pretty much all undercover and mostly air conditioned it’s the perfect summer activity. A Day Out With Thomas is an annual event where most of the museum becomes Thomas themed – even the model railway!
Toddler To Do List
Thomas Play Pit
True to the theme, the Thomas Play Pit is mecca for train loving tots. They have set up a room filled with train tables, each one with a different set. Bear spent his time running between tables, convinced that the grass was greener. There’s a separate soft play area for under 3s that includes ride on Thomas toys, books and soft cushions as well as a large train set on the floor to play with. This space also includes free Thomas tattoos. The only down side is trying to tear them away!
Thomas And Friends Theaterette
Like most toddlers, Bear sometimes gets a little too over excited so I love when places provide a space to just relax and calm down. The Thomas And Friends Theaterette is set up a lounge room with comfy cushions and bean bags so kids can chill and watch or read a bit of Thomas before starting their next adventure.
Fat Controller Show
Embarrassingly to admit, but this was a real highlight for me. This guy managed to put on a fantastic show, dressed like that in 30 degree heat. Hats off to you Sir Topham Hatt. Seriously though, it’s a high energy show with lots of singing, dancing and a ton of audience participation. Pretty much every kid there was enthralled and I guarantee you will be singing ‘A Dinosaur Has Never Met A Train’ for about a week afterwards. There’s also a photo opportunity with Sir Topham and Thomas after the show, so stick around for that.
This is a permanent feature at the museum and its always a favourite for Bear. For active kids it contains a train track with pushable wagons, bikes and even luggage trolleys. The imagination factor here is huge – there’s dress ups for the role players and a steam train, boat and truck to ‘drive’ as well as a station and signal tower to man. There’s also a corner with train themed books and a couch for quiet play, as well as a couple train tables thrown in for good measure. It’s one of the most fantastic indoor play spaces I’ve ever seen, and no matter how many times Bear comes here, there always seems to be something new to see or do.
Tilt Train Simulator
Is there anything a toddler likes more than hitting buttons and flipping switches? Bear adored sitting in the drivers seat here and pretending to drive the tilt train. While it is called a simulator, the person ‘driving’ doesn’t actually have to do anything, making it perfect for a toddler to enjoy. All you have to do is select the ride, and let them enjoy playing with the controls. There’s an extra seat so you can have a sit down while they drive. Bliss. This is another permanent exhibit so it can be enjoyed year round.
And The Rest
I simply didn’t have space to detail every single activity, so here are some of the ones I missed
Thomas Activity Table – including crafts, colouring in and puzzles
Model Railway – see if your child can spot the hidden Thomases
Active Workshops Tour – check out what’s currently being worked on. Just remember to wear enclosed shoes.
Alright I’m In. What Are the Details?
When Can I Go?
A Day Out With Thomas runs to 26th Jan with a sensory day on 18th Jan.
The museum is open from 9.30 – 4pm daily, even on Australia Day!
Where Do I Go?
The Workshops museum is located at North St, North Ipswich.
How Much Will it Cost?
Adult – $21
Child (Ages 3 -15) – $12
Family – 2A+2C – $63
You can upgrade your pass to an annual one on the day – if you are going to go more than once, definitely do it. Pro tip: 2017 actually has two A Day Out With Thomas events so it’s well worth the upgraded price. Annual pass holders also get 10% at the Trackside Cafe and the Roundhouse Shop
How’s The Food?
While The Workshops does have its own cafe, it can get a little pricey (especially on public holidays where there is a 15% surcharge) so you may prefer to take your own picnic lunch in to enjoy on the grass or at the provided tables. It’s a fun idea and makes the day out much cheaper. Pass outs are even available to head out to the car and grab the esky.
When Can I See The Fat Controller & Thomas?
I promise these locations will make sense when you get there! Note that on the Sensory Day, the Fat Controller Show is changed so all sessions are a quieter storytime.