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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