The Roadtrip Series: plan a perfect Toowoomba getaway
We know what you’re thinking. Toowoomba? Really? But we can promise you, any preconceived notions you have of our western neighbour is probably incorrect. The reality is a picturesque town that is far from sleepy, filled with some of our nation’s finest produce, unique spaces, lush gardens and classic architecture – less than two hours away from Brisbane. As part of The Roadtrip Series, we have taken the trouble out of planning a weekend getaway to Toowoomba with a comprehensive list of where to eat, where to stay, what to visit and where to play – starting with the Felton Food Festival this weekend.
Let’s be honest – without caffeine you’re not going to get anything productive done with your day, and you are going to need some of the best coffee in town to put you in the exploring mood. Ground Up Espresso Bar is a happening haunt that has just the thing to get you pepped – sublime coffee from Toby’s Estate, with cold-brew and filter varieties available as well.
The most important meal of the day
It’s never a good idea to skip breakfast, or any meal for that matter if you ask us. Thankfully, The Finch Cafe boasts some of the finest breakfast in town. Start your day light with the house granola with natural yoghurt, honey and blueberries, or go all out with the moreish breakfast burger stacked with haloumi, bacon, free-range eggs and tomato and onion relish.
Late lunch or leisurely Friday dinner
When you’re feeling peckish (or ravenous) in the afternoon, The Firefly Cafe is one of the best spots to take in some sumptuous fare. For lunch, treat your palate to delights such as the grilled snapper with orange and herb salad and caperberries, or the braised beef brisket burger with garlic mayonnaise, spinach, tomato and onion jam, and beetroot. If you arrive on Friday, book in for dinner at Firefly Friday Evenings and sit down to some twice-cooked pork belly with fennel and apple compote or cardamom and anise braised beef brisket with potato mash and confit garlic.
Find Toowoomba’s hidden street art
Yep that’s right, Toowoomba has some of the raddest street art in the state. Crazy, huh? In May 2015, Toowoomba became a thriving artistic hub when First Coat turned the streets into an outdoor gallery. Fifty large-scale murals can be found across town painted by acclaimed artists such as Madsteez, Shida, Askew and Alice Weinthal. Spend a few hours exploring the alleyways and back streets of Toowoomba’s city centre and take in as many of the impressive murals as you can.
Pluck produce from Australia’s salad bowl
There are few things more satisfying than coming away from your local farmers market with a swag of great produce, but imagine being able to sample from Queensland’s own salad bowl. Toowoomba sits right in the middle of one of the world’s most fertile farming regions and on the cusp of the Lockyer Valley, meaning that everything on hand at the Toowoomba Farmers Market is at its absolute peak freshness.
Picnic with a view
Once you’ve stocked up on goodies from the market or one of the many local providores, we suggest finding a picturesque spot to chow down. Picnic Point Lookout is a great position to roll out a rug and enjoy the surrounds of 160 acres of parkland on the crest of the Great Dividing Range, with views extending over Main Range and the Lockyer Valley. The spot also boasts a cafe and restaurant, playground facilities, a children’s train on weekends and walking trails to nearby waterfalls.
Discover the region’s national treasure
Want to live out your old-timey saloon dreams? Fifteen minutes out of town sits The Royal Bull’s Head Inn, a local treasure that dates back to 1847 when William Horton, a resourceful ex-convict, constructed it. At the beginning of its existence the inn offered lodging, stables for horses and a popular bar before being purchased and turned into a family home, which it remained for close to a century. In 1973 The National Trust purchased the property and restored it to reflect the period of its earliest trading days. Visitors can explore the property, examine the original artefacts, stroll through the gardens and learn a little bit about the early history of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs.
Kick back and relax
Should you need to rest your feet after some extended wandering, take off your shoes and give yourself a minute to relax in the picturesque expanse of Queens Park or the tranquil surrounds of the Ju Raku En Japanese Gardens. The gardens are one of the largest traditional designed Japanese gardens in Australia, featuring 230 species of Japanese and Australian native trees and plants, lakes and lawns.
Don’t forget to play
If you’re planning your trip this month, make a real weekend of it at one of the region’s annual events. On Sunday April 10 the Felton Food Festival will be showcasing a range of gourmet delights from the Felton Valley, featuring a program of music, entertainment, food stalls filled with local produce, tasting opportunities, farm animals, celebrity chefs and cooking demonstrations. Saturday April 16 marks the date of the Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood Races at Clifford Park, a historical event with a century of tradition where punters can cheer on the best in Queensland racing.
Stay a little bit longer
It’s easy to be enchanted by the magic of Toowoomba and the surrounding region. If you feel like extending your stay by a few nights to ensure you’ve taken in everything on this list, check in at one of Toowoomba’s finest bed and breakfast spots – B&B Wanulla. Situated in a heritage conservation area in Toowoomba’s east, this abode is close to Queens Park and is an ideal spot to base yourself for a weekend. If you prefer a bit of luxury hotel living, book a night or two at Quest Toowoomba, situated minutes from the Grand Central Shopping Centre and the Empire Theatre.
The Roadtrip Series is a collaboration between The Weekend Edition and Southern Queensland Country.