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Toowoomba - Queensland's Garden City
 
toowoombaToowoomba and the Darling Downs are part of the South-East Queensland country. Situated just an hour and a half from Brisbane, and two hours from the Gold Coast, Toowoomba is accessible via two main highways and is perfect for a car or Brisbane campervan hire holiday. The Warrego Highway runs from the east to the west, while those travelling from the north or south will find the New England Highway the best way to go. The New England is known as Australia's Country Way and is a scenic drive that sets the standard for the final destination, Toowoomba.

Toowoomba is nestled right on the edge of the Great Dividing Range, approximately 700 metres above sea level. This idyllic setting means that it enjoys endless, spectacular views of the Lockyer Valley, which will no doubt take your breath away. Although Toowoomba is a regional city, it is a modern one that boasts a striking heritage that is evident through beautiful historic buildings, that are blended with modern, vibrant architecture. The strong presence of this architecture will immediately capture your attention from the moment you enter the town and you will be pleasantly surprised to find that this just marks the beginning of what is to come.

One of the other most notable characteristics of the city is the abundance of gardens and parks. Toowoomba is often referred to as Queensland's Garden City, and it surely does not fail to live up to its title. Boasting over 240 gardens and parks, there is a particular emphasis on internationally themed gardens, which is most evident through the Japanese Gardens present at the University of Southern Queensland campus here. Walking through these gardens is like walking through a whole other country. The careful preciseness and accuracy of Japan's culture has been replicated through these gardens and you can find this in every nook and cranny of the garden by walking the beautiful paths and boardwalks that are spread throughout the garden. Other fantastic gardens in the area that are definitely worth a visit include the Wetlands of the World and the New Zealand themed park at Lake Amand, which each offering charming nature experiences.

Gardening becomes a way of life each year in September, when the Carnival of Flowers springs to life. If you are in town around this time of the year, be sure to check out these amazing blooms and colours. Buy some of the local plants on display, ensuring you can take a slice of this garden paradise home with you.

Culture and recreation are also major draw cards of beautiful Toowoomba, as the city offers endless fun activities for visitors to take part in. Along with exploring the stunning gardens, take some time to discover the heritage exhibitions and museums, the antique stores and the charming, old hotels. If you take a drive out into the country you will encounter gorgeous boutique wineries that are nestled on eye-catching vineyards, as well as trendy cafes and galleries. These museums and galleries further emphasise the rural history of the city, incorporating the best of antique and contemporary art into their exhibitions.

The countryside of Toowoomba truly is a food and wine lover's paradise, as it is home to several award winning restaurants and stylish coffee shops. Some truly fantastic wines are produced in the local wineries, and the success of these is greatly attributable to the cool mountain air which allows the vineyards to thrive. The locals are really committed to this way of life and this is clear through their the gourmet food they produce and the outstanding wines, that will delight even the most travelled traveller.

When embarking on a driving holiday to Toowoomba, you will have the option of exploring some of the great surrounding areas. One of these places would have to be the Crows Nest. also known as the High Country. This can be reached by heading north along the Great Dividing Range and is a drive that encompasses some striking scenery that will simply amaze you. Other charming towns in the area include Highfields, Cabarlah and Hampton. The natural and cultural attractions in these towns abound and offer great resting spots on your driving adventure.

The Great Bunya Drive is another must while in the region. This drive is characterised by scenic landscapes of rolling hills, lush rainforest and open forests and woodlands. The Bunya Mountains National Park is a great place to stop as it is home to some of Australia's most incredible flora and fauna, as well as some intriguing lookouts. The drive will also take you to the Jandowae Dam, which offers a great rest stop where you can try a spot of fishing, take a refreshing dip and feast on a delicious picnic lunch. After all of this exploration, Dalby offers a welcoming rest place to relax and take it easy. Situated in the black soil plains of the Northern Darling Downs, Dalby is an ideal driving distance from Toowoomba to make it an enjoyable and charming day trip.

While staying in Toowoomba there are a range of accommodation options to choose from. If you wish to get back in touch with nature, camping in one of the nearby National Parks will be a great option, yet the caravan parks are a great alternative if you are not quite to daring. However, in the colder months you may wish to opt for comfort and warmth and the local Bed & Breakfasts, hotels and motels offer cosy, yet affordable accommodation that will be suitable for all of your needs.

Toowoomba is a city that offers something for everyone. Whether it is in the city itself, or in the beautiful surrounding areas, there is always something interesting and unique to see and do. The stunning views, colourful gardens and attractive architecture offer a charm and allure that is unique to this regional city. It is this allure that makes you wanting to go back for more!

Christine Barton




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