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.
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.
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.