CHANGE OF PACE
Time for a change of pace and get away from the flowers, or at least try to. Everyman and his dog (is that politically correct these days?) seems to be participating in the festival atmosphere by planting a few annuals, putting up banners etc. So we have gone off to a few places where the flowers are not the main action. The journey took us out to Drayton on Toowoomba’s south western flank. This was where settlement first took place in the late 1840s, later moving a bit further east to present day Toowoomba.
Drayton is where Toowoomba’s big sprawling cemetery is located, established in 1864. Quite an expanse of grave stones and lawn cemetery, plaques etc. There is quite an attractive section with gardens and a water feature. Probably the best spot to be for the long haul! We had a little bit of a drive around, up and down the grave lane ways. Doing the guided historical stroll searching for past icons and other famous types did not appeal. There is a night time tour that might be a bit more interesting, focuses on the macabre deaths!
After a while we moved on to the DownsSteam tourist railway and museum. This is a very active restoration group. They are nearing completion of their major project, the restoration of a C16 steam locomotive that was originally built in Toowoomba in 1914. It is the only remaining one of its type. To be known as the ‘Pride of Toowoomba’. The project should be completed in the first half of 2022 at which time plans are afoot to run locomotive trips out to Warwick, then south to Stanthorpe and Wallangarra on the border with NSW. From Warwick there is the ability to go further west to Goondiwindi. They have a good set up at Drayton in yards beside and access to the main line. The steam train has apparently passed most of its operating tests, regulatory and safety hoops and hurdles are the next challenges. They also have six or maybe seven stainless steel carriages being prepared for the trips.
The workshops also have their flower beds in bloom. They say they ‘compete’ with Spring Bluff to see who can do the best layout. There is an old photo reproduction of an oil painting of a steam train coming through Spring Bluff Station, it would have been a quite impressive sight chugging up the steep incline.
Time for a little more history at the National Trust property the Royal Bull’s Head Inn. It has been slowly restored to its mid to late 19th century glory. It was established by an ex convict in 1847 as stopover point on the journey from Moreton Bay to the Darling Downs. There were lodgings, stables for animals and rooms for social occasions in the town. The double story Inn would have been quite a sight along the dusty roads. There is a rickety old kitchen set up attached to the back of the building that would have provided meals and snacks to patrons. Although closed for inspection we managed to get a quick look through the building as a guide was there preparing for a late afternoon tour group and she let us wander around. Of course there were also a few gardens in bloom just to be part of the Festival action.
We managed to get in another lunch at Gips restaurant. They were putting on a festival special which Allthego couldn’t resist, a pastrami sandwich. Traditionally, pastrami sandwiches are made with rye bread, but these days anything seems to go so long as it is a tasty artisan type bread. The chef at Gips used some Turkish bread and it was very tasty! Homealone passed on the sandwich and had some whiting filets with chips.
We now head to Crows Nest NP, it is about 50km north of Toowoomba, for a couple of days. We are going to return to Toowoomba from there for the festival’s Grand Central Floral Parade. An iconic event and a bit of a highlight for the locals. One hundred thousand people are supposed to line the streets and fill the parks.