LAUREL BANK PARK
This park is lovely to visit at any time of the year, but when the Carnival of Flowers is on, it is at its very best.
Mr. Stephens donated the land to the Toowoomba city council in 1932, but before handing it over to them offically in 1934, he designed the layout of the gardens.
Mr Stephens was known to many as 'the man of flowers'. He loved gardens & flowers allowing only a Croquet green to be incorporated in the gardens.
Every year, when the Carnival of Flowers is on, you can have a Devonshire morning tea at the Croquet club. We did, and it was beautiful! One huge scone, jam & cream, and a cup of coffee all for $4.
You could have one huge muffin, and of course, tea instead of coffee. It was a wet day, so we could have sat inside, but instead, we sat on the verandah and enjoyed our morning tea whilst admiring the gardens.
During the carnival of flowers, they have a raised stand that overlooks the garden beds. We went up, and had a wonderful view over all the garden beds, a must do when here.
It is here that major floral float for the parade stays. Climb inside, and have your photo taken as the "Queen!"
The Wisteria Arbour is at its best too [September], there is seating underneath.
There are lots of exotic trees, including English and Spanish oaks, Japanese maples and many more, all in a well kept lawned area. It really is a nice park for a family picnic, there is Playground equipment, a gazebo and Toilet's in the park, and those trees add the much needed shade on those warm, summer days.
Other history............Laurel Bank Hall in the gardens, was built during World War II to be used as a mess hall for US naval troops.
HISTORIC SPRING BLUFF RAILWAY STATION
This historic Railway station can be visited any time of the year, but the BEST TIME, is when the Carnival of Flowers is being held during September.
It was in 1864, construction of the Ipswich-Toowoomba line commenced, and in 1867, the first train from Ipswich reached Toowoomba, a 5 hour journey!
Hard to imagine that this station in the early 1900's, handled more than 5500 passengers.
Nowdays, Spring Bluff is not an operational station, and is listed on the National Trust of Queensland register.
During the Carnival, Train rides from the Toowoomba Railways Station to Spring Bluff run daily for a week, at 9am and 1pm.
We were at the Station when the Steam train was there, and then watched it leave for its onward journey to Brisbane.
You need to book, as these Train journeys are very popular.
Tickets are available from QR Toowoomba Station...phone... (07) 46313380
The spring display is fantastic. Many, many hours of hard work has been put in, and over the years has been rewarded by winning many ribbons, this year  was no exception, with them taking out 1st prize in their section. We strolled around, looked at the gardens and the old heritage buildings that have been repainted in their original colours, and then watched the Steam Train leave and wind its way around the mountain-side.
About the gardens..................STUNNING!
The area..................................Don't miss coming here!
The Cafe is open from Friday to Sunday 9.30am-4.30pm, but open all through Carnival week.
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
Perched on the edge of the Great Dividing range is the Picnic Point Lookout and Restaurant / Cafe.
There is plenty of parking, don't worry if the main area is full like it was for us, as there is another parking area not far away with hardly had a car in it.
This area is always well maintained, has a large lawn area and plenty of shade from the Bunya pine trees. There is an excellent children's playground, bbq facilities and Toilets.
The view from the platform is far reaching views over the Lockyer valley and the nearby volcanic Table Top Mountain. If you're feeling energetic, you can walk to this Mountain, no, I haven't!
An unusual monument is of a little dog named " Puppy." He was the mascot of the Toowoomba Thistle Pipe Band.
Feeling hungry, then the Cafe maybe the place to enjoy a meal and the wonderful view.
After having a look here, we followed Tobruk Memorial Drive further down the Mountain. This led to another lookout, and plenty more picnic areas, and then returned to the top again.
CARNIVAL OF FLOWERS
IN SEPTEMBER, every year this Carnival is held for a week.
* It starts off with a floral parade held on the Saturday.
* COMPETITION GARDENS are free to get into and have a look at, even in drought these are outstanding gardens.
* Exhibition gardens cost a small entry fee, this goes to Charity.
* You can do a Bus Tour around the gardens if you wish.
*Energy Flower, Food & Wine Festival, runs from Friday to Sunday. There is an admission charge, but this entitles you to free Wine tasting, visual art displays, cooking demonstrations, and live concerts, good value at $19 in 2010.
* Sideshow alley for that fun time
* Fireworks held over 4 nights during the Carnival
* Lots of floral displays which are either free or a gold coin donation.
* Different garden clubs hold displays, like the Bonsai club, the Clivia club & Orchid club, Quilting Club, Spinners & Weavers, Geranium Club, Art in Bark just to name a few.
* THIS EVENT IS A MUST FOR GARDEN LOVERS!
We go to it every few years, there is always something different, and lots to see.
The photo's are of the "GRAND CHAMPION GARDEN 2010" Free admission to this garden.
GO POTTY AT THE TEAPOT EXTRAVAGANZA!
This is another display that is held every year during the Carnival of Flowers.
Not only is there Teapot's, but Cup/saucer/plate sets, Tea-towel collections, Button collections which have been made into designs and framed, aprons, quilting, tea cosies and hand made doll collection. A Potter was in the corner, decorating the Pots he had made, these were for sale.
Each year it varies, so you can come back again to see something different.
I loved looking at the 400+ teapots on display, ranging from novelty items to the finest in bone china. I was glad I could take my time and have a good look, probably my favorites were the novelty Teapots. It was amazing at what they can make a Teapot look like!
LOCATION.......The extravaganza is held at St Alban's Church and hall on the corner of Anzac Avenue and Hill Street.
OPEN......10am and 4pm daily.
$4 Devonshire tea was available.
Outside were plants for sale at very reasonable prices, and a book jumble sale.
- Museum Visits
- Budget Travel
THE CHRONICLE EXHIBITION GARDENS
Yearly, during the 'CARNIVAL OF FLOWERS' in late September, The Chronicle newspaper lists 6 gardens that will be open for the public to view.
These gardens are not prepared for Carnival week, they have been selected for their year round beauty and attractive features.
These gardens ARE OPEN FROM 9 - 5pm DAILY.
There is an ADMISSION CHARGE (for 2010) prices were..........
4 gardens $10, 3 gardens $9, 1 garden $4. All proceeds go to charity.
Children are FREE, is accompanied by an Adult.
Tickets can be purchased at the exhibition gardens.
You can do a Bus Tour of the 4 gardens, plus scenic sights and parks and garden, with the driver giving a commentary.
These depart from the Tourist Information Centre.
To find out where the gardens are located, buy the Chronicle paper from the Tourist Information centre. It will have a map in it, with the locations of the gardens.
- Budget Travel
THE CHRONICLE GARDEN COMPETITION
The garden competition, heralds the beginning of Spring. Gardener's in Toowoomba have planted their gardens with Annuals and Perennials, so that they are blooming at their very best for Carnival time.
Toowoomba is a very garden orientated city. The people love their gardens.
The competition has various awards, eg. for the best large garden, small garden, newly established garden, natives, cacti, etc, etc.
Luckily, the keen gardeners, have their own bores, otherwise, they would not be able to water, as Toowoomba is in severe drought at the moment.
If you buy the Chronicle newspaper from the Tourist Information centre, it has a map showing where the prize winning gardens are located, and names and addresses of all the gardens that were entered in the competition. The ladies at the centre are very helpful.
There is also a special sign above the street sign, so that they are easy to find.
ENTRY TO ALL THESE GARDENS IS FREE!
Crowds of people come, as many as 10,000 in a week. The gardens are only open for 1 week.
So, all you garden/flower lovers, come and have a look, get some ideas for your own garden, it really is beautiful, and a credit to the owner's of the gardens.
CARNIVAL OF FLOWERS BUS TOURS
If you do not have your own car to get around and see the gardens, then don't worry, all types of Bus tours are available.
There is a PARADE & GARDEN TOUR (6HRS)
COST.......$75.00 (Bookings essential)
You see the grand Parade, visit 5 prize winning gardens, exhibition garden, Brindabella country garden, Orchid show, scenic sights and a gourmet packed lunch is included in the price.
GRAND FLORAL TOUR (5HR)
COST.......$65.OO (bookings essential)
You visit 5 prize winning gardens, exhibition garden, Brindabella country garden, Orchid show, scenic sights and a 2 course sit down lunch.
TWO HOUR TOUR
You visit 4 prize winning gardens, and scenic sights.
You visit 6 prize winning gardens & scenic sights.
Prices are for 2009
All tours can be booked at the Tourist Information Centre.
ALL TOURS DEPART FROM THE CENTRE.
There is also a FREE COURTESY BUS that departs every 30mins from the centre.
This takes you to St. Paul's Orchid show, St. Luke Flower show, Garden town shopping centre, Grand central shopping centre, bus interchange and Queens park. 1st Bus departs at 9.45am, last Bus departs at 4.45pm.
Phone number for Bus Queensland is below......
- Road Trip
Take in the Picnic Point views
Photos 1,2 Views from Picnic Point
Photos 3,4 The park at Picnic Point
Photo 5 Classic car club group visiting Picnic Point.
As I have mentioned, Toowoomba is on the edge of the Great Dividing Range escarpment, so you need travel no further than the edge of the city to obtain excellent views. Fortunately the city planners realised this long ago, and established a substantial (and very popular) park there.
Our visit was mid-morning and, in any case, we had to keep moving on the next stage of our trip, so we did not visit the Picnic Point Restaurant. This has been popular for many years and has quite a good reputation. While we were at the park, I was pleased to find a group of classic cars (Fords, for those interested) also making a short visit while in the course of a trip from Brisbane.
- Road Trip
TOOWOOMBA TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE
Your 1st stop when entering Toowoomba, should be the marvellous TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE.
It is stocked full of brochures, containing all the information you could ever want, there a lovely helpful staff, clean Toilets, and a Cafe.
You can pick up a free map of the city area, and also the Tourist drive map, this is well worth doing.
Nice souvenirs are available at reasonable prices, also Books on the area.
Brochures are FREE OF CHARGE.
OPEN DAILY 9 - 5pm.
TOURS OF TOOWOOMBA
As far as I know, there is no walking tour guide for the CBD of Toowoomba.
I think it a pity, as Toowoomba has many handsome old buildings located along its wide streets.
I just walked around the city centre, viewing the different styles of architecture.
Some interesting buildings were the Old Post office at 136 Margaret Street which was designed in an Italianate style and had the clock tower added later.
Next door, was the beautiful Classic Revival Court house that was built in the 1870's. Both are built out of sandstone.
Just across the road, is the very different Strand Theatre which has a very distinctive semi-circular window and an unusual central balcony. [see separate tip]
The Town Hall is another beautiful building which also has a clock tower. It was built in 1900, and is the 3rd Town Hall! Located in Ruthven Street.
This is just a few of the many you will see on your Toowoomba CBD walk.
If you have a car, then follow the Brown little arrows on the tourist signs. This is a driving tourist drive around Toowoomba.
One takes you around Inner Toowoomba, and the second drive takes you around the outer area of Toowoomba. By doing this drive, you see most of the important sights.
- Road Trip
- Hiking and Walking
Cobb & Co Museum
Cobb + Co Museum, is a part of the Queensland Museum and home to the National Carriage Collection, Australia's finest collection of horse-drawn vehicles.
As well as Cobb & Co. coaches, the carriage collection has examples of a vast range of vehicles from the horse-drawn era, farm wagons, hawkers barrows, delivery carts and buggies to an elegant landau; the Rolls Royce of carriages.
Included in the museum, is an extensive displays on the natural and cultural history of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs.
This Museum does research and conservation work relating to horse drawn vehicles, and has education programs, including heritage trades workshops, and blacksmithing.
There is a children's interactive play area - The Coach Stop.
Visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the Museum along with morning/afternoon tea or lunch in the onsite coffee shop
Gifts are also available, you may be able to pick up a different souvenir here.
Admission is $9.50 (2009)
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
JU RAKU EN JAPANESE GARDENS
About the best Japanese gardens I have ever seen are the ones at Toowoomba. They were opened 1989, and include 3kms of stroll paths in a Japanese landscape of many trimmed Azalea bushes. We have been here a few times, and every time enjoy strolling around. On one ocassion, a Wedding Party was here having their photo's taken, what a lovely setting for this!
About the gardens.................
The Central Lake represents the celestial sea from the Buddhist legend, and the northern edge of the lake is lined by a large pebble beach to remind viewers of a seascape.
Other parts of the lake edge are rocky and jagged just like the sea coast of Japan.
Approximately 2,500 full sun Azaleas are planted on the northern face of Azalea Hill as a representation of hillsides in Japan where Azaleas grow wild. The pruning of these shrubs will eventually provide a wave like massed green mat which will burst into vivid colour in Spring.
We were there in mid September, and they had passed their best, but still had colour, so come 2 - 3weeks earlier to see a brilliant display.
Other plantings include Cherry Trees, Japanese Maples, Azaleas, Camellias, Bamboo, Japanese Black Pine, Iris, Lotus Lilies and Moss. The red bridges, a waterfall, cascades, and some Duck's compliment this beautiful garden.
OPEN DAILY 7am till DUSK
ADMISSION IS FREE
Enquiries at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Phone number below.
- Hiking and Walking
INSIDE ST. LUKE'S CHURCH
On walking inside St. Lukes and looking towards the Nave, I thought the many arches built in french gothic style, were beautiful. Altogether, there are 9 bays, with 9 arches.
The High Altar took my attention. It is beautifully carved, done by serveral women, if like me, I always think of men doing something like this.
The Agnus Dei is in the centre, flanked by the Crown of Thorns and the Crown of Glory, it really is magnificent.
Behind it is the Griffith window, a large central window which is a replica of a famous window in Chartres Cathedral in France, where it is known as "la Belle Verriere."
- Religious Travel
ONE OF THE WORLD'S RAREST PLANTS -"WOLLEMI PINE"
The Wollemi Pine is one of the WORLD'S OLDEST & RAREST PLANTS, dating back to the time of the Dinosaurs.
With less than 100 adult trees known to exist in the wild, the Wollemi Pine is now the focus of extensive research to safeguard its survival.
It was discovered just 10 years ago by a bushwalker in a national park only 200km from Sydney, Australia's biggest city.
A majestic conifer with attractive, unusual dark green foliage and bubbly bark, the Wollemi Pine can grow up to 40 metres high in the wild with a trunk diameter of over one metre.
The Pines can survive temperatures from -5 to 45°C, and are expected to withstand even cooler temperatures.
Located, in a cage for its own protection, the Wollemi Pine is located near the side facing Lindsay street, in Queen's Park.
There is a plaque by the tree, with more information on it.