DAY TRIP UP THE TOOWOOMBA RANGE QLD. AUSTRALIA


A TRIP UP THE RANGE, TOOWOOMBA
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”
Up early Saturday morning we headed to the gateway of Queensland’s west, Toowoomba which is a casual two-hour drive from Brisbane and perches on a crest of the Great Dividing Range, 700 metres above sea level. Once a quiet farming community with some well-heeled residents and numerous private schools, the region is now embracing the arts, food and multiculturalism.
A friendly, small-town vibe prevails in the Garden City, with its distinct seasons and heritage buildings.

Australia’s biggest regional inland city is getting a bit hip in its old age. A food-and-arts scene has sprung up to complement the aroma of flowers and the sense of history that permeate Toowoomba’s fresh mountain air.


We headed up the top of the Great Dividing Range and stopped first at Picnic Point. You’ll be mad not to check out the views. It was a great start to the day by taking the short drive up to Picnic Point and feasted our eyes on the Lockyer Valley and Table Top Mountain.


The Picnic Point Cafe and Restaurant offers superb breakfasts (try the wholemeal buttermilk pancakes with bacon and maple syrup or grilled chipolatas with scrambled eggs and herb-crusted tomato) in a stylish space with big windows that make the most of the vantage point. You may be lucky enough to be there on a clear day, like today but a Toowoomba fog can be just as dramatic as last time we were here.

We also recommend The Finch. The café recently doubled in size by expanding into the space next door and is now a light-filled place of exposed brick walls and a high pressed-metal ceiling


Toowoomba isn’t called the Garden City for nothing. You should make time to explore at least a couple of the 150-plus public parks and gardens. Our next stop was a Monument to poet George Essex Evans (1863 -1909).  George was husband of Kim’s 3rdGreat Aunt – Blanche Eglinton. Evans was born in London in 1863, emigrated to Australia in 1881 working initially as a farmer and later as a teacher, journalist and Toowoomba`s Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages. He contributed articles to numerous journals and newspapers, particularly The Queenslander, for which he wrote as `Christophus`. Two of his books of verse were published, in 1891 and 1897. In 1901 he won the Commonwealth Poetry award for his ” Ode for Commonwealth Day.” The memorial was located Dudley Street, Webb Park, Toowoomba. Dudley being Kim’s 2nd Great Grandfather. 


We then decided to head to the heritage-listed Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery to check the graves of George, Blanche and Sister Amy Eglinton. The cemetery is large, containing over 45,000 burials.

We then headed to one of Toowoomba’s most peaceful and beautiful parks – the four and a half hectare Japanese Garden at the University of Southern Queensland. Located on the northern side of the campus, it’s Australia’s largest and most traditionally designed Japanese stroll garden, and you can take your pup around on a lead.

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. Being there nice and early we had the place almost all to ourselves. Only when leaving we noticed more people just coming in.

We headed back to the CBD which is home to one of Australia’s largest outdoor galleries? Yep, you heard right! Toowoomba is now the proud holder of this title and home to over 55 street art murals.


Thanks to the First Coat Festival, Toowoomba’s streets and laneways are awash with an ever-evolving exhibition of colour, giving residents and visitors a whole new reason to get outside and explore.


The festival started in and has added new murals in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Grab your camera and take a little walk to check out these 36 new works of art from the 2015 First Coast Festival.

While checking out the murals, Kim popped in and out of shops.
In the last decade or so Toowoomba has done a 360. It’s embraced the fact it’s beautiful,  a viable tourist hotspot, and homes some of the richest people in Queensland who don’t mind putting a bit of coin back into the town. Toowoomba is known for its gardens and flowers, so be sure to check out all the parks in the area; Laurel Bank, Queens Park and Picnic Point are the top three. Ground Up Espresso is king of the café scene, showing off an insane eggs Benedict and Toby’s Estate coffee. The Spotted Cow is the top pick for a craft beer or Saturday night gig.

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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FLANAGAN RESERVE, SOUTH EAST QUEENSLAND

FLANAGAN RESERVE

Another camping adventure awaited us with a new social camping group.  Bright and early we left North Brisbane thru Beaudesert and followed the Mount Lindsey Highway 33km to Rathdowney. We then drove through Rathdowney and just past the school we turned right into Boonah-Rathdowney Road. We followed the road for 7kms then turn left into Upper Logan Road and approximately 4 kms followed it to the end the intersection. We then turned right into our destination, Flanagan Reserve.



Flanagan Reserve is 12 hectares of bush camping located on the upper reaches of the Logan River. Set in the shadow of Mt Maroon just near the border between Queensland and New South Wales, Flanagan’s Reserve started life as a large well treed paddock of 28 acres surrounded by private pastoral properties, with an occasional resident caretaker in a caravan at weekends. It then cost $2 per night with no charge for dogs. It is about Five years since our last visit and we found quite a few changes. The old tin shed drop toilets have been superseded by a small amenities block, with two toilets, one shower for each set plus a handicapped toilet and shower. Hot showers are 2 minutes for 20 cents and cold free. The washing up area is under cover and surprise, surprise, a free washing machine. The building blends in beautifully with the surrounding bush and extensive landscaping has been started.

The Logan River runs down one side of the camping area so you can, as we didn’t, choose a spot overlooking the river. The river, which is fed by Barney Creek, starts in the hills not far away near Mount Barney, so it isn’t the wide flowing river. Fire places and tables with bench seats are strategically placed around the grounds.

Since it has been a very dry summer, there is a decided lack of grass in some sections. The spring fed Logan River is flowing, but with water being drawn for amenities there isn’t the luxury of watering the sites. Management is very environmentally friendly and aware in other areas as well. Ashes from the fireplaces are compressed to fill holes in the roads around the reserve and camping on the riverbanks is strictly discouraged.


That night we had a communal campfire and camp oven buffet night. Everyone brought their camp ovens or dish to share and try to impress the group old and new.
Everyone mixed it up so we didn’t  cook the same thing. Eg. roast lamb/beef, tapas, entree, desert etc etc…


The plan was to place your camp oven or dish in a communal area to select from like a buffet. Dinner was served about 7pm, We then enjoyed the food and relaxed relieving stories of the past days 4wding adventures .


Next morning near the river bank, we walked to a little grave that’s dated back to the early 1800’s when this whole area was a stopover for the drovers and cattle drives. In this instance, the young mother didn’t survive the birth of a baby and the baby died as well. It is a very peaceful place where they are buried. The gravesite has been restored and will be getting a plaque put there to tell the story.



A couple of other items to look out for are the old survey tree, which is believed dates back to the turn of last century, and the billy tree.  Visitors are invited to hang their old billies in one particular gum tree – it makes quite a talking point.


Fishing is mainly for bass and believe it or not, other than lures, local grasshoppers are excellent bait for bass. There are photos of catches in the office Other visitors include lots of birds including grey babblers, who were very busy gathering sticks for their nearby nest, apostle birds chortling away, yellow tail black cockatoos in the tall trees plus the usual assortment of lorikeets, kookaburras and magpies. Possum family members are very regular visitors every Wallabies are on the adjoining cattle properties and very rarely come into the reserve itself.


We found the campers here extremely friendly. Flanagan’s Reserve is ideal for motorhomes, caravans and campers who are fairly self sufficient and very reasonably priced. In fact it is the best value camp in the area and the only one with hot showers that takes doggies. Gerard and Juanita work in with other camping areas nearby and have regular meetings. There is no lack of communication between the various owners/managers which is a nice change – they are all working together to make their district the most presentable they can to attract campers. There is a nice little site with reviews on other nearby camping areas to visit whilst in the area as well as a brief piece about Flanagan’s

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THE SPRINGS 4X4 PARK

THE SPRINGS 4X4 PARK

The Springs Camping and Adventure Park is situated just south of Warwick on the New England Highway in the Granite Belt region of South East Queensland.   The Granite Belt is a premium food and wine destination surrounded by stunning national parks and prehistoric granite formations.
The tracks wind over 700 acres of beautiful and varying terrain, ranging from Easy to the Extreme to cater for all vehicle types and class of driver.  There is also the Ironman Test Track for you to have some fun and test your skills!

Delivering a choice of campsites, the Main campsite is found some 1.4kms into the property and is accessible by 2WD’s and 4WD’s.
It is situated in a beautiful gulley with your own rock escarpment and creek. All sites are secluded and have shade. The main campsite has a purpose built modern shower and toilet block with hot showers.  They are just what you need after a long day in the Park. 

Drinking water is provided for all campers and wood for campfires is available.  All tracks are signposted, named and graded for difficulty and a detailed map of the Park will be provided on entry.
The road from the office to the camp ground is well maintained and easy with the exception of a hill climb just past the office which could prove to be a bit of a challenge in the wet or if you where towing a trailer like we were.

We were there for Doing it in the Dirt, in conjunction with a Social 4wd Group and The Springs 4×4 Park for the first ever #DrivingTheBluesIntoTheDirt in aid of raising funds for Beyond Blue. We had to arrive Saturday morning and eventually found the area the group were camping. After finding the only flat spot around, we were told that it was reserved for a parking spot. No one around, we decided to pack  the camp gear back in the trailer and started heading back home. Upon leaving we found a flat gully opposite a group on a buck’s weekend.

We unpacked and setup and we had plenty of room for our dog to run around. The night was spent with drinks with the boys on the bucks.



Overall would I recommend The Springs to campers? DEFINITELY NO.  Sixty Five Bucks for one night. Their dreaming if they think I’m heading back there again. The Springs is more for 4wder’s who are more than happy to smash up there 4wd’s and whine later how expensive it is to fix.


We attempted to head to one of the lookouts, and then halfway we turned back because of the state of the track and the little to no signage. We really enjoyed the camping and the only socializing was with Matt’s buck’s party. 


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MT MEE, QUEENSLAND.AUSTRALIA

MT MEE, QUEENSLAND. AUSTRALIA
Overlooking the magnificent Glasshouse Mountains, Mount Mee is approximately 90 minutes drive north west of Brisbane and is part of the beautiful D’Aguilar Range. The delightfully bohemian village of Woodford is just 10 minutes drive to the north.
From on top of Mount Mee, expansive and picturesque views of seaside Caloundra and pristine Moreton Bay can be savoured.

A day trip in a serene natural setting is for you, D’Aguilar National Park is a truly stunning region just north of Brisbane, with beautiful subtropical rainforests, eucalypt woodlands, and scrubby gum forests. Lookouts dot the landscape, providing amazing views of Moreton Bay, the Glasshouse Mountains, and crystal clear rainforest pools.



Mt. Mee is so close to Brisbane that it is an easy 4wd day trip idea.  Mt Mee is part of the D’Aguilar National Park and only about 15 minutes from Dayboro.  D’Aguilar National Park is divided into two sections, north and south.  The majority of the northern part is 4wd access only. Mt. Mee is a beautiful mountain located in the northern section of the National Park and the northern section of D’Aguilar is often just called Mt. Mee




We Started our Day in Dayboro and entered the state forest at the very south end via Laceys Creek Rd.  We almost turned around before getting to the dirt roads as Laceys Creek Rd is signed as a no through road just before the gravel road starts.

Wasn’t too happy getting stuck a little at A Break, but reversed back and took a different line we cleared it okay. I knew from the two previous trips that there were some big holes at the start of the climb and also near the top. The person behind just followed my line, because they always followed, but never lead because they had zero experience. 

A bit further on we had another hill with big holes and then a steep climb. The track fell away to the left so it was important to keep right while negotiating the hill. All fine and we made it to the top with no hassle.


We continued through the forest crossing little streams, up and down small hills and driving on loose surfaces. The tracks were dry with little mud. It looked like the rain didn’t make it up there. As we ascended higher up the mountain the view was amazing.


 

We then left the group and visited the Gantry day use area, where there are toilets and plenty of room to stretch your legs. The Piccabeen walk was a short 1km boardwalk circuit taking us through a grove of piccabeen palms.

The Gantry itself is a somewhat bizarre looking structure. A shed like building, it was used to house a massive crane used to hoist timber up from the forest floor. Apparently it operated until 1981 and the saw mill produced timber which was used in structures around Brisbane including Saint Stephens Cathedral in Brisbane CBD and bridge connecting Redcliffe to Brisbane. The sheer size and height of the structure makes it definitely photo worthy and something you definitely don’t see every day.


This day trip to Dayboro-Mt Mee, northwest of Brisbane has it all – a quaint picturesque country town, winding roads with stunning vistas, vineyards, bushwalks with waterfalls and old sawmill remnants, and on weekends locally grown and roasted coffee and a café laden with retro memorabilia on a cliff’s edge.

From the CBD take the A3 to Bald Hills then split left onto A58 towards Petrie. First stop for the historically inclined is the Pine Rivers Museum and Old Petrie Town, a replica heritage village that on Sundays comes to life with an excellent market and the rest of the time is good for a wander and visit to the Emporium Rock’n’Roll Milk Bar.

Continue along Dayboro Road to Dayboro, a gorgeous little township that is well worth spending some time at. Enjoy coffee or brunch at one of the charming little cafes here or check out the recycled and vintage chic wares of Smith & Barton Bohemian Décor, see some local art at the Dayboro Art Gallery, have a poke around the great vintage shops, book shop café and walk the town’s heritage trail (maps available at the Visitor Info in town or the Arts & Crafts cottage).
From Dayboro take the road out and turn-off just outside of town to Mt Mee. Along the way is a llama cottage (stop and see the llamas) and Ocean View Estate Winery which does good food as well as wine. Towards the top of the Mt Mee ridge don’t miss a visit to the quirky memorabilia-covered tin shed that is Pitstop Café, with the most stunning views of all.

Continue on to Mt Mee, until Sellin Road, a left turn from the main road that heads towards and into the forest reserve with several bush walking tracks. Follow Sellin Rd to the entrance of the park and about 150m further in is the main picnic and day use area, The Gantry, which contains the relic shed from the sawmill industry that once operated up here and closed in 1981. Two bush walks start from adjacent to The Gantry: the shorter easy grade 1 km Piccabeen Trail circuit with info about the logging industry that used to occur or the medium grade 3-4 hr Somerset Trail, a 13km circuit through scribbly gum and eucalypt with views of Somerset Dam.

Note that the road is unsealed and not recommended for vehicles other than 4 wheel drives past the Gantry. The unsealed Neurum Creek Road section has 2 worthy walks along its way. About 1km along the unsealed road is a short easy grade 400m (one way) walk to Falls Lookout, a viewing platform overlooking the Neurum Valley and a further 80m to Bulls Falls, with views of rainforest pools and rocky cliffs. A further 7km or so down Neurum Creek Rd is a car park, from which a short 200m walk leads to Rocky Hole, a rock pool that is popular with swimmers in summer.

Take the road out of the forest reserve and back to the Dayboro-Woodford Rd. Turn left and pass through the tiny hamlet of Mt Mee. On the right, just out of ‘town’ is one of the area’s best lookouts, Dahmongah Lookout Park – taking in views of the Glass House Mountains to the north, east to the sea and south to Brisbane CBD. Facilities include a BBQ, picnic rotunda and toilets and on weekends a little food trailer onsite serves up an excellent cup of Mt Mee’s own coffee, with beans roasted and grown at a nearby plantation owned by locals Les and Dawn. Pies and snacks are also available, along with local jams, chutneys, soaps & snacks for sale.

Continue on the road to Woodford/Kilcoy for a short distance then turn right on Campbells Pocket Road which is the most direct route towards Caboolture and the Bruce Highway south to Brisbane.


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MT MEE, QLD

MT MEE

A day trip in a serene natural setting is for you, D’Aguilar National Park is a truly stunning region just north of Brisbane, with beautiful subtropical rainforests, eucalypt woodlands, and scrubby gum forests. Lookouts dot the landscape, providing amazing views of Moreton Bay, the Glasshouse Mountains, and crystal clear rainforest pools.



Mt. Mee is so close to Brisbane that it is an easy 4wd day trip idea.  Mt Mee is part of the D’Aguilar National Park and only about 15 minutes from Dayboro.  D’Aguilar National Park is divided into two sections, north and south.  The majority of the northern part is 4wd access only. Mt. Mee is a beautiful mountain located in the northern section of the National Park and the northern section of D’Aguilar is often just called Mt. Mee



We Started our Day in Dayboro and entered the state forest at the very south end via Laceys Creek Rd.  We almost turned around before getting to the dirt roads as Laceys Creek Rd is signed as a no through road just before the gravel road starts.

Wasn’t too happy getting stuck a little at A Break, but reversed back and took a different line we cleared it okay. I knew from the two previous trips that there were some big holes at the start of the climb and also near the top.

A bit further on we had another hill with big holes and then a steep climb. The track fell away to the left so it was important to keep right while negotiating the hill. All fine and we made it to the top with no hassle.



We continued through the forest crossing little streams, up and down small hills and driving on loose surfaces. The tracks were dry with little mud. It looked like the rain didn’t make it up there. As we ascended higher up the mountain the view was amazing.

 



We then left the group and visited the Gantry day use area, where there are toilets and plenty of room to stretch your legs. The Piccabeen walk was a short 1km boardwalk circuit taking us through a grove of piccabeen palms.

The Gantry itself is a somewhat bizarre looking structure. A shed like building, it was used to house a massive crane used to hoist timber up from the forest floor. Apparently it operated until 1981 and the saw mill produced timber which was used in structures around Brisbane including Saint Stephens Cathedral in Brisbane CBD and bridge connecting Redcliffe to Brisbane. The sheer size and height of the structure makes it definitely photo worthy and something you definitely don’t see every day.



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