4 THINGS TO DO WHEN VISITING TOOWOOMBA, QUEENSLAND. AUSTRALIA

Toowoomba, Queensland. Australia


Crisp winter air, knee-deep autumn leaves, clear summer days and a riot of colour in spring; nowhere else in Queensland will you experience all four seasons as distinctively as right here. Just 90 minutes from Brisbane, Toowoomba crowns the edge of the Great Dividing Range 700 metres above sea level, overlooking the Lockyer Valley. So close but a world away. Southern Queensland Country’s biggest town still has a country town vibe.


COBB+CO MUSEUM



This one of Toowoomba’s must-see tourist destination.

The Museum is part of the Queensland Museum Network and is home to the National Carriage Collection. You can discover a variety of interactive displays, exhibits and heritage trade workshops. You can mmerse yourself in Toowoomba’s natural and cultural history and revisit an Australian transport era. Wander through the charming National Carriage Collection and discover how the 47 horse-drawn vehicles played an important role in the development of Queensland. 





The kids will love stepping back in time to play in The Coach Stop play area. Watch them become shop attendants in the old Museum General Store, dress them up in old fashion clothes or give them a ride on the life-sized replica horse. Get your hands on history with a variety of heritage workshops with one to five day workshops suited from beginner to expert. Experience the satisfaction of learning a traditional skill and creating something beautiful yet functional by hand. Take a break in Cobb’s Coffee Shop and try Toowoomba’s best scones. Located a just short walk across from Toowoomba’s iconic Queens Park.



JU RAKU EN JAPANESE GARDEN, TOOWOOMBA



When ever we head up the range, our first stop is Toowoomba’s most peaceful and beautiful parks, Ju Raku En Japanese Garden. The garden is four and a half hectares located on the northern side of the University of Southern Queensland campus. It’s Australia’s largest and most traditionally designed Japanese stroll garden. Its elements of mountain stream and waterfall, Dry Garden, central lake, Azalea Hill, three kilometres of paths, 230 species of Japanese and Australian native trees and plants, and lawns combine in a seamless and restful harmony. 




Japanese gardens emphasise the use of rocks to create three dimensional pictures. All of the large rocks in Ju Raku En were placed by the garden’s designer, Professor Kinsaku Nakane of Kyoto, to appear naturally dispersed in a random way. You can stroll through the garden or relax on the seat near the Dry Garden; it’s not uncommon to see artists quietly painting a scene or children feeding bread to the fish or birds, which include swans, ducks, geese and smaller natives. Japanese maples provide a riot of autumn colour, while in spring masses of lilac blossoms hang from the Wisteria Pergola, the perfect backdrop for a wedding.

PICNIC POINT LOOKOUT AND PARKLAND



Toowoomba’s heritage-listed Picnic Point Lookout and Parkland comprises 160-acres perched high on the crest of the Great Dividing Range, with panoramic views over Main Range and Lockyer Valley. Be greeted upon entry with an avenue of mature hoop pine (Auracaria cunnninghamii) and South Queensland kauri (Agathis robusta) before the parklands opens into manicured lawns.



Pre-pack a picnic or stop by the cafe and restaurant before nestling on a section of quiet grasslands under a bunya tree. You can let the kids test out the playground and children’s train (only operating on weekends), and later set off on the walking trails to nearby waterfalls and Table Top Mountain, drawing sightseers and picnic goers every day of the week. The lower section of the park can also be accessed via Tobruk Memorial Drive and is another ideal location for impressive vistas and social picnics.


EMPIRE THEATRE



Toowoomba’s Empire Theatre is a heritage listed art-deco venue that provides a wide variety of performing arts for every taste. The Empire is Australia’s largest regional performing arts complex and stages world class shows from leading national and international performers as well as showcasing a wealth of local talent.  Whether it is popular music, ballet, comedy or any live performance, the lavish art-deco styling of the venue combined with its state of the art technology makes for a magical and memorable experience. 




The Empire Theatre also offers historical tours and attracts many visitors each year. The complex is also a popular choice for conferences and events, including weddings, offering a unique experience to guests. The tour is a must for photograghers, like us.




Whatever your fancy, this picturesque mountain city has plenty to see and do, from boutique wineries and spectacular lookout points to antique stores and art galleries. We are caffeine addicts, so for coffee that never disappoints we always head to our favourite deli, Wendland Fine Foods. You know you visit far too often when they start making your coffee as you walk in the door. A visit to a few of the great antique shops and art galleries, interspersed with regular coffee stops (of course) makes for a lovely day out. Tosari Galleries at the top of Margaret Street and Range Antiques on Burke Street are a good place to start.

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BURLEIGH HEADS, QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA

Burleigh Heads, Qld

Come for the surf, stay for the one-of-a-kind shopping, top-notch food, trendy markets and natural beauty.



Sitting pretty between Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta, Burleigh Heads is so much more than a hotspot for pumping breaks. It is a holiday destination in itself on the Gold Coast, with chic beach vibes coming in strong every which way you turn; from the window to the wall of the designer and vintage shops peppered along James Street.





Our first stop was at the Village Markets. After walking into the backend of Burleigh Heads State School and catching that first colorful glimpse of stall after stall of creative goodness, it was time for me to get a quick coffee fix while Kim explored the stores of funky threads for little and big goers, to vintage treasures and tropical homewares. This is one of Kim’s favorite markets on the Gold Coast.




From the markets we ducked into the Burleigh Arcade on James Street for breakfast at Social Brew Burleigh. The new cafe on the block is a hidden tropical oasis and has become a local’s favorite with its lively decor, iconic yellow Social Brew coffee cups and yummy food.
You can’t go past one of their fresh cold-pressed juices when ordering from the all-day breakfast menu. But if you need caffeine hit to jump-start the morning, get their deconstructed iced coffee complete with lab flask and poison bottles filled with sweet syrup and definitely not poison.

James Street is to Burleigh Heads what Chapel Street is to Melbourne; it’s the go-to shopping spot for Kim’s retail therapy fix.



Another spot worth a mention is the small shopping nook inside the Old Burleigh Theatre Arcade on Goodwin Terrace, where you’ll find The Freedom State, LA Pearl and Six Things.
Six Things is seriously one of the coolest pop culture shops Kim ever laid eyes on




.
We worked off breakfast with a walk through Burleigh Head National Park.  Burleigh HeadS National Park is home to rainforest, eucalypt forest, pandanus groves, tussock grassland, coastal heath, mangroves, creeks, rocky foreshore and beaches. We followed the tracks which lead around the rocky headland from Tallebudgera Creek to the southern edge of Burleigh Heads Township. We relaxed by the creek at Echo Beach, viewed some tumbled masses of six-sided basalt columns, and possibly caught a glimpse of a pod of dolphins out at sea.





Moving on the afternoon and being a Sunday afternoon and starting to come down from the weekend high and feeling a little bummed knowing it’s all over. We headed to Finders Keepers Bar & Dining Lounge to listen to some live acoustic tunes, have some tasty bar snacks, and cold drinks (hello Pimm’s jug and $5 Coronas) We watched a cracking sunset and said good bye to another great weekend adventure.



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OUR TOP 3 CAMPING, 4WDing LOCATIONS NORTH OF BRISBANE, QLD

Bribie Island

Just over an hour’s drive from Brisbane you can be on the pristine coast of Bribie Island, a great introduction to sand driving for novice 4WDers. Bribie offers many delights including wildlife and bird life in abundance, Naturalists and birdwatchers will delight in the variety of fauna that inhabit the Island and surrounding waterways. 




It’s not unusual to encounter dingoes, emus, wallabies or goannas in the Island’s interior and brahminy kites and sea eagles on the beaches. Pumicestonne Passage is home to dugong and is a stopping-off point for many species o migratory wading birds including grey-tailed tattlers, eastern curlews and ruddy turnstones. 




Those with an interest in history may wish to spend some time exploring the remains of Fort Bribie, built in 1939 to protect the shipping channel into Brisbane from Japanese invasion.  Many of the structures are still relatively intact, including the northern searchlight post and the gun emplacements, hidden behind the dunes. Bribie is also great place for anglers with the choice of ocean beach or estuary fishing, the rich waters of Pumicestonne Passage being accessible from Lighthouse Reach, Gallagher Point or Poverty Creek in the National Park on the west Coast.




Attractions:

Boating, fishing, swimming, birdwatching, bushwalking, unspoilt beaches, remains of historic fort to explore, tranquil, relaxed atmosphere, proximity to Brisbane.
Standard:

Easy to moderate sand driving suitable for soft roaders and camper trailers (provided our vehicle has enough power to drag one through some soft sand).






Burrum Coast

If you’re searching for a quiet coastal escape with some 4WD’ing fun thrown in and you don’t mind a bit of a drive to get there, then the unspoilt Burrum Coast National Park south of Bundaberg man well fit the bill. The park protects just over 23 000 hectare of coastal lowland wilderness made up of sandy beaches, mangrove-lined estuaries, wallum heaths, tea tree swamps, eucalypt forest and livistona palm groves. 




The National Park consists of three sections; Kinkuna, Woodgate and Burrum River, and the first two have plenty to entice the 4wd adventurer including 14 kilometres of vehicle-accessible beach, secluded campsites with uninterrupted ocean views, a tranquil wilderness atmosphere with birds, marine and wildlife in abundance and total peace and quiet. Although it’s a fair hike from Brisbane, if you visit the Kinkuna Section outside peak holiday times, chances are quite good that you’ll have the place entirely to yourself. Burrum Coast retains that laid back atmosphere that a beach holiday oncemeant, as well as the chance to enjoy those typical beach vacation activities; swimming,
 beachcombing, a ball game or just lazing in a hammock under the sheoaks with a good book. It’s also an ideal destination for keen anglers; the bountiful waters of Hervey Bay are accessible from the beach and the nearby Gregory and Burrum Rivers provide sheltered estuary fishing and crabbing.




When it comes to where to stay, you have the choice of ‘roughing it’ in the Kinkuna Section, provided you’re fully selfcontined, camping with basic facilities at the Burrum Piont Camping Area of enjoying all the ‘mod cons’ at the caravan park or the range of accommodation at Woodgate.


Attractions:

Fishing, swimming, Birdwatching, bushwalking, unspoilt beaches, uncrowded, relaxed atmosphere.

Standard:

Easy to moderate sand driving suitable for most ‘soft roaders’ and camper trailers.



Wongi

Anyone who has travelled the Bruce Highway between Maryborough and Childers would have noticed the signs marking the entrance to the Wongi State Forest. At first impression this are may appear rather uninteresting but if you have time, a detour through this delightful forest is well worth the effort. 





The forest roads provide an alternative, and much more leisurely and interesting route to Childers than the main highway “Wongi” means ‘Deep Water’ in the local Aboriginal Language and the string of permanent waterholes beside the camping and picnic areas provide the area’s wildlife with and important natural watering hole. 




Sitting quietly at the water’s edge around dawn or dusk is an easy way to spot the many birds, marsupials and reptiles that call the forest home. The patient visitor may glimpse a wide variety of birds ranging from tiny honeyeaters and kingfishers to larger species such as cormorants and hawks. Large goannas frequently patrol the picnic areas in search of an easy meal and wallabies and kangaroos are often seen. During this tour you may discover the remains of an old forestry camp, enjoy a refreshing swim in the tea-coloured freshwater waterholes at Wongi, follow part of the Bicentennial National Trail along the historic Old Gayndah Coach Road or take in the sweeping views over the Fraser Coast Region from the summit of Mt Doongul. Wongi’s attractive camping and day visitor areas have toilets, drinking water, BBQ’s and picnic tables plus easy access to the waterholes provided by decks with ladders.




 The unpowered sites are suitable for all methods of camping, including vans and trailers, and you can even bring our dog with you, provided ti is kept under control and on a leash at all times.

Attractions:
Easy access off the Bruce Highway, dogs are permitted in the camping area, swimming, birdwatching and wildlife spotting, bushwalking, ample space, vehicle-friendly camping.

Standard:

Easy driving on dirt or gravel. Suitable for ‘Soft Roaders’; low range gearing or high ground clearance not required. It is suitable for camper trailer with ample space available at the camping area.

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