We have now moved on to Toowoomba, about 50km down the New England Highway from Crows Nest. We have stopped off here for a couple of days. Toowoomba is Australia’s largest inland city, in excess of 100,000 Queenslanders live here. So there is a lot to see. But our main objective is to start the Cobb & Co trail here and then head back towards Brisbane following its ‘original route’ which has been somewhat adjusted by the tourism people to fit in a few of the towns that now lie along its path. We are staying at the Jolly Swagman Caravan Park, a few blocks off the centre of town. A small park with reasonable sites, although a bit squeasy to get in. The ambience of our spot a little compromised by the dump point being directly behind us. Thankfully, most did their dump early morning and it didn’t disturb our breakfast. Although one chap chatted with us on and on, a verbal ‘dump’ if you like, about all sorts of stuff before finally dumping his ‘stuff’ and moving off.
The Information Centre recommended that we take a mini coach tourist drive around town to get the general lie of the land. This we did, 5 of us all up enjoyed a two hour journey around the eastern side of the town which took in the lookouts towards Brisbane and the numerous rather expensive large homes being constructed on the range looking east and also west over the town. Several million dollars each. Also wandered around the now suburb of Drayton, the original area settled in the 1840s. Had a brief stop at the Japanese garden at the University of Southern Qld. Our driver was a mine of information and we finished the trip just so much wiser about most things Toowoomba! Seriously, he was quite entertaining.
Following this expedition it was off for a feed. We were encouraged to frequent a few different eateries by the lady at the Information Centre and settled on Sofra, Turkish. Rather excellent lunch and can thoroughly recommend. Mountains of great food at reasonable prices. After lunch we then wandered around the centre of town looking at some of the street art. Plenty of it, varying in quality we thought. But it did liven up some of the lane ways. Started to get a bit weary so we headed back to the Jolly Swagman to recuperate and prepare for the following day.
We had made our necessary booking, for COVID reasons, at the Cobb & Co Museum, for 9.30 am. It was not crowded. Safety in numbers does not apply in these days of COVID. There is another old saying gone! Anyway, it was a great display of old Cobb & Co coaches, buggies and other horse drawn transport of the 19th and early 20th century. We had a bit of a chat with the head of the National Carriage Factory located in the complex. He was one of those now rare craftsman who works in wood. No power tools. Just those old planes, rasps, hand drills, calipers, set squares. hand saws , chisels etc from days gone by. His main project at that moment was restoring/rebuilding an early 1900s buggy that had been found in a creek bed near Oakey. Not much was left, just the iron work and a few timber pieces. He was rebuilding it from the ground up based on other carriages of the day. No plans. Steel rimmed wooden wheels and all. Very interesting stuff, he was four months into it! A Roman exhibition from the Queensland Museum was also on show, some interesting pieces illustrating their engineering prowess, road building, bridges, aqueducts etc.
Time flew and our 3 hours expired in time for lunch. Fortunately, a spud van was in the car park and we indulged in a smashed baked potato with mince (Homealone) and ham (Allthego), sour cream, cheese, chives and coleslaw. Very tasty but filling, so it was off for a walk around Queens Park to work it off; also took in Laurel Bank Park on the other side of town. The parks were preparing for the Carnival of Flowers in September so many of the beds were fallow awaiting planting. A few of the summer displays were coming to a close, but the gardens were still quite special.
Before heading back to the Jolly Swagman we stopped in at the Four Brothers Brewery, a craft brewer located in the old Dairy Factory. Enjoyed an ale, they seem to have a liking for some fruity type beers, as well as standard lagers and bitters. Didn’t care much for the fruity styles, the lager was quite good, the bitter a bit bitter for Allthego’s taste.
We now head down the Range in the morning to continue along the Cobb & Co Trail to Murphy’s Creek. Not before though putting a booking on our site for Carnival of Flowers in September, includes a food weekend as well. It is something that we have talked about doing but never got around to!