On the doorstep of Brisbane, Toowoomba and its neighbouring communities have become an easy and enjoyable escape in Queensland.
As you leave the city behind, replacing the busy Brisbane streets are the paddocks of Lockyer Valley. The area has a fitting nickname – ‘Australia’s salad bowl’. No matter what time of year you visit, the countryside is forever changing colours as crops ripen. Splatters of orange, yellow, green and gold paint the fields on the edge of the Great Dividing Range. Kick back a gear as life takes on an easier pace and Queensland’s Toowoomba welcomes you.
Toowoomba, Queensland: The Garden City
People refer to Toowoomba as ‘The Garden City’ and, as the name suggests, it’s home to countless gardens to wander through. Namely, the Japanese Gardens, the Scented Gardens and picturesque Queens Park. Picnic Point Lookout and Parkland is particularly impressive with its panoramic views across the valley towards Brisbane.
Here, the rich volcanic soil allows even the laziest green thumbs to grow dazzling floral displays. To celebrate, the city hosts the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers each September – and there’s more than petals to admire. The city and surrounding localities come alive with music, markets, food and wine tasting and fabulous touring options.
A little tip: don’t skip a visit to Spring Bluff Railway Station, around 20 minutes south of Toowoomba. Open year-round, the Heritage-listed station is flanked by stunning landscaped gardens. During the Carnival of Flowers, a train runs twice daily, delivering loads of fun for all ages.
History of Toowoomba QLD
As one of the earliest inland settlements, established in the 1840’s, Toowoomba has plenty of historical sites and accompanying tales. The Cobb+Co Museum houses the National Carriage Collection, Australia’s finest offering of horse-drawn vehicles. Visitors will find a variety of interactive displays and exhibits on everything from space to ancient Indigenous culture. Cobb+Co also offers workshops on vintage trades and kid-friendly activities.
Call in to the Royal Bull’s Head Inn, a Heritage-listed landmark whose rusted tin roof screams of the early days of settlement. The building was established in 1847 by ex-convict William Horton. It has since been lovingly restored, much like the Empire Theatre, another Heritage-listed building in the city. Dating back to 1911, it oozes art-deco elegance, making for a unique performing arts venue.
Art in Toowoomba QLD
Speaking of the arts, the scene in Toowoomba is flourishing. Artists work throughout the city creating fantastic murals, and more than 50 large-scale works adorn buildings across the city centre. Put your walking shoes on and start your tour at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery. Grab a map and download the app, so you don’t miss any murals. Allow half a day to take it all in. You’ll find plenty of shops and cafés to stop at as you wander. Make sure you visit Mark Lane, off Margaret Street and west of Ruthven Street. It’s an eclectic street art hub, some pieces even giving the commissioned murals a run for their money.
For other art establishments, try Tosari Galleries on Margaret Street or the USQ Arts Gallery at Artsworx. You might also set aside some time to visit the Toowoomba Art Society in Godsall Street, Kontraband Studios on Laurel Street and the MET Galleries at Highfields Village. You’ll also catch loads of artists displaying their work at weekend markets and around town.
For all you art lovers, we created a list of our favourite galleries in the country. How many have you been to?
Planning a trip to Toowoomba QLD
Toowoomba is just 90-minutes drive from Brisbane in the gorgeous Darling Downs region. The city has a vibrant restaurant and café scene with excellent boutique shopping and historic landmarks. You’ll find plenty of accommodation options in the city, varying in price and comfort. Keen campers should check out Reflections at Lake Cooby.
Only have one day to spare? Consider taking a private, full day tour such as this one.