Toowoomba and the Golden West

From Brisbane, a winding road takes you up to the lofty heights of the Darling Downs region and delivers you to Toowoomba, Queensland’s Garden City. With an elevation of some 80 metres, the region experiences four distinct seasons (in contrast to much of Queensland), accounting for its horticultural richness, as well as its attraction as a popular holiday destination.

Let’s take a short tour of Toowoomba city and see what a stay holds in store.

The Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery is the oldest regional gallery in Queensland. Take in some local art before heading around to Margaret Street, home to a variety of cafes and restaurants. Shopping on Margaret Street is excellent, with plenty of boutiques, gift and antique shops.

Queen Park is home to the Queens Park Botanical Gardens – superb at any time of the year for its mature trees, but the park really comes alive as the centre of the spring Carnival of Flowers in September.

For a panoramic view of the Darling Downs, a visit to Picnic Point is a must. The gardens are beautiful (including magnificent Bunya trees) and there is a restaurant and café to stop and have a bite to eat.

Historic building and stately homes blend with numerous cafes, great restaurants, museums and galleries to create a vibrant city. From the art deco Empire Theatre to Railway Square (a café-dweller’ delight), the Gospel Music Festival in April and the Model Train expo in June, Toowoomba is a city of contrasting attractions.

If you enjoy hunting for antiques, Toowoomba is home to many fine antique shops and galleries. Pick up an Antiques Trail brochure from the Visitor Information Centre and set off on an exploration that might just yield a treasure or two to take home to become a new family heirloom.

When it comes time to explore further afield, there are a number of exciting choices. Head north through Highfields (with its arts and crafts shops and a decadent of chocolate shop), Carbarlah (featuring a wonderful French antiques store and shops showcasing local arts and crafts) to Hampton.

Ravensbourne is the home of the Ravensbourne National Park (visit Beutel’s Lookout) – a perfect spot to stop, rest and relax a while. In May, be sure to visit and experience the Hampton High Country Food and Art Festival. From here, head through Cooyar and Nanango to Kingaroy and you’re in the South Burnett.

If you head west from Toowoomba you’re really in for a treat, exploring the Darling Downs and the outback region. Dalby is a busy town, the centre of cotton, grain and cattle in the region. If you wish to visit in March you can experience Australian Cotton Week and at any time of the year, stop off at Dalby Tourist Information Centre and ask for a heritage trail brochure to guide you through the sites of the town.

Numerous other smaller towns dot the countryside and the attraction is mixing with the locals (visit a field day if you get the chance and you’ll really get the feel for country living). If you love historic homes, visit Jimbour House (circa 1875) at Jimbour and enjoy wine tasting, coffee and arts and crafts.

At Condamine, find out about the legendary cattle bells made in the area and travel on to Miles and discover local history at the Miles Historical Village. From here, the north and west is your oyster. Explore the Bunya mountains, visit Roma, Charleville and Cunnamulla or head up to Longreach and visit the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. Alternatively, head south and discover the magnificent Southern Downs region.

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