Allison Grant and her family have returned to Ipswich to find a community that really cares.
Allison Grant and her family have returned to Ipswich to find a community that really cares. Allison Grant

YOUR SAY: My open letter to Ipswich ...

Dear Ipswich,

We need to chat. I owe you an apology. A big, fat, honest apology. I'm afraid I haven't been a very good friend.

You see, after leaving you some 20 years ago I didn't think we'd ever be close again. I'd written 'us' off. Sure, I came home to visit occasionally (thanks to Mum and Dad), and get my hair done (thanks to Jo) but I moved on, physically and emotionally.

I found a more fabulous, cooler, sexier place to hang out. After 15 years together I dumped you without so much as a second thought and moved on. Just like that! Fickle, to say the least.

How quickly I forgot about all the amazing times we shared; my days with Ipswich Little Theatre and Brownies, five brilliant years at IGGS, the countless netball games I played at Limestone Park, the school dances in the IGS auditorium, my first job at the corner store (and subsequent jobs at Ipswich Macca's, Sizzler, Cue and SportsCo), countless performances on the Civic Centre stage, the beautiful friends I made ... and the list goes on.

I left and I forgot it all in a flash. You were such an amazing part of my formative years. I'm sorry I didn't acknowledge that. I'm sorry I took you for granted. Why do we always hurt the ones we love the most? Sigh.

But while we're being honest we need to chat about your reputation. For many years it left a lot to be desired. People were (and still are) quick to make fun of you and your people, and for a long time you didn't do yourself any favours.

Fast forward to today and I'm happy to give credit where it's due. You've really grown up! You've matured. You've become cultured. You've worked hard to shake that rep and show the world that there's more to you, that you're not what they say you are.

Despite all of this, people still make fun of you (will it ever stop?) and I don't think I've helped matters much. When I tell people I grew up in Ipswich they tease me (the same old boring, non original jokes about bogans, being inbred, getting beaten up ... yawn).

What do I do? Do I rush to your defence? Generally not. I have tended to switch to self deprecation mode and join in on the teasing, making fun of myself so to quickly move through the awkward moment.

I guess I wanted to be one of the cool kids (note to self, you'll never be a cool kid and that's okay!). I guess I didn't really have the courage to stand up for you. And, to be honest, I don't think I really understood or appreciated you.

Why have I changed my tune? Why am I writing this letter apologising for my abhorrent behaviour? Because I came home.

Yes, I recently came back to you. After almost 20 years away I now call the 'Swich home again. I swore I'd never do it. Truthfully, the thought didn't really ever cross my mind. I shocked myself when I made the decision (one of the greatest epiphanies in my entire life, let me tell you, that happened in my mother's pool) but here I am.

We moved back to be closer to Mum after losing my beautiful Dad to Cancer. I'm an only child - my kids are Mum's world. It was time to come home.

But was a risk. Honestly, I was terrified! Terrified I'd hate it, that my son wouldn't like his school, that we'd be bored, that the commute to Brisbane would be too much. Terrified that I wouldn't be able to cope with the teasing (shallow, I guess), and that I'd regret it.

And yet here I am writing this letter of apology. I'm sorry I dumped you all those years ago. Clearly we love being home! Clearly I'm sorry for not being a louder, more vocal advocate. Clearly I have a lot of making up to do! I'd love to be friends again, Ipswich. Will you forgive me?

Because here's the thing, Ipswich, you have impressed me. Big time! There's so much to love about being home. We absolutely adore our little Queenslander - how gorgeous are the homes?. In fact, we live in central Ipswich but we feel like we're in the middle of the bush ... it's so quiet and serene (how happy do we look in this photo taken on our deck, right?). We're super close to everything!

So many delightful coffee shops and yummy restaurants (seriously good). I've reconnected with beautiful old friends and we're already making new buddies. Queens Park rocks!

Our son loves Ipswich Grammar (with so many exceptional school options in town) and his new dance school, and our little girl has quickly settled into daycare and swimming lessons.

The theatre and drama scene (which is right up our alley) is phenomenal. And there are so many fabulous community events too. There's so much to love about being back ... words I never thought I'd write but I'm happy to put my hand up and cop it sweet.

I'll admit it ... I buggered up. Ipswich, you're just a little bit fabulous!

And here's the clincher; the people are honest, kind and salt-of-the-earth, and I don't mean that in a patronising way. Far from it.

People like to make fun of you, Ipswich, and your people. Yes, there are many lower socioeconomic areas in Ipswich (side note, there are lower socioeconomic areas in every town!).

Yes a lot of people struggle to make ends meet. No it's not all expensive SUVs, skiing holidays in Aspen and wardrobes full of designer clothes.

But let me tell you something, the level of kindness we have been shown from all facets of the community since moving back has been heartwarming and beautiful. (Except for that speeding fine ... but I can't hold you responsible for that, can I, Ipswich?)

People may call Ipswich locals 'bogans' (the word makes me shudder now), but let me tell you something, your people are good people. Your people are kind people. Your people are real people.

The customer service has been exceptional everywhere we've been, seriously exceptional, from the girls at Coles to the bar staff at the local leagues club to the lady who served me in Pillow Talk.

Your people are happy and grateful, and that's a beautiful thing to behold. Something you should be proud of.

I have learned many life lessons since moving back and I thank you for that. You reminded me that money and social status really don't matter. Nope. Not a bit. Kindness matters.

Compassion matters. Authenticity matters. Your bank balance doesn't. People matter, no matter what they do for a crust or how much money they have in their wallet.

Ipswich, you really have come a long way. A bloody long way! You're affordable, you're easy to get around, you offer simple living, and you have an amazing sense of community.

I'm so happy to be back and from here on in I promise to be loyal! I promise not to talk about you behind your back. I promise not only to stand up for you when others mock you but to be a positive advocate for all you have to offer.

As an inspirational speaker, a writer, a blogger and a prolific talker I have a platform and I promise to use it.

So, dear Ipswich, I'm sorry for being a bad friend and I thank you for reminding me what's really important in life.

Looks like we're going to stay a while. A really long while. I can't wait to get to know each other again! Can we start over?

It has been too long, my old friend, too long.

Love, Alli (Allison Grant)

Ipswich



GIFT OF LIFE: Blood donations give little girl second chance

premium_icon GIFT OF LIFE: Blood donations give little girl second chance

Ivy Exantus was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, fanconi anemia

Push for widespread use of welfare card

premium_icon Push for widespread use of welfare card

Nationals to vote on widespread use of welfare card.

Local Partners