Monday, May 28, 2012

Exploring Toowoomba

We have lived in Toowoomba for over 10 years now and have been so busy working and building a business that we never took time out to explore our 'Garden City'. Sure we have seen quite a bit of it, know where most things are and can find our way about quite easily but we have never taken the time to truly explore and take a close look at the beauty that is Toowoomba.

Over the last couple of weeks we have taken to exploring our Toowoomba and I'll blog our little adventures and post a few pictures as well. But before I begin, a little history of Toowoomba and our settling in.

Toowoomba, the second largest inland city in Australia (population approximately 110 thousand) is situated on top of the 'Great Dividing Range' in a section of South East Queensland known as the Darling Downs. Toowoomba has the reputation of being Queensland's 'Garden City' and officially holds that title. Interestingly Toowoomba has no rivers or lakes in close proximity but rather relies on man made dam's for it's water supply even though one of Australia's greatest river's (the 'Murray' river) begins here. Water conservation and water restrictions have become such a way of life that when Toowoomba suffered it's worst flash flooding in history the community were caught totally by surprise and Toowoomba was cast into the world spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Dam levels had been below 10% prior to the flooding and so water restrictions were eased in 2011 post flooding but the community had become so used to the restrictions that there was community backlash, albeit minor and short lived.

Ronnie and I first visited Toowoomba in the late 1990's on business. We were living on the 'Gold Coast' at the time and found the people of Toowoomba to be fantastic, friendly and helpful. The lifestyle was far more laid back and Toowoomba appeared to be a large spread out country town with a lot of parks and open spaces. Toowoomba also unexpectedly offered us a business opportunity that hopefully would bring our fragmented family back together. It did!... more on that at another time.

On Friday we visited the Japanese Gardens behind the Uni. We had been there once before, just after arriving in Toowoomba. The Gardens rely heavily on public donations for their maintenance so I was quite surprised to find them even lovelier than I remembered them. Ronnie and I thoroughly enjoyed each other's company while taking in all the wonderful autumn colour, magically complimented by the bright red bridges over the running streams. We had a wonderful peaceful and relaxing afternoon. 

On Saturday we visited Kearneys Spring Park, I was hoping to see the miniature railway in operation but sadly this was not to be. We did spend a relaxing afternoon in the park which will be in it's glory during the summer months. On the way home we stopped at St Patrick's Cathedral (a Toowoomba landmark) to take a few photo's and have a close look at it's beauty. 

Sunday we spent the day exploring a Heritage Pioneer village at Highfields. I have to say that the textures, sights and sounds of some of the old workshops took me back to my youth. It doesn't matter where in the world you are from some things are the same or have the same heritage. I was reminded of weekends as a child visiting my grandfather (Oupa Hoffman) and being allowed to accompany him into one of his old sheds with the rusting tools, the big red shed. Those were magical times as at age 10 I was totally in awe of Oupa Hoffman and his great big old sheds that were kept locked and dark. I was never able to fully satisfy my curiosity and explore those dark dank sheds to my satisfaction. Childish curiosity often found me trying to peep through holes in the corrugated iron. There is nothing quite like the smell of old oil and rust mixed with damp red earth, I love it!  I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this pioneer village that has a wonderful lady toymaker - well worth the visit alone to see the amazing mechanical toys of old.

On the way home we decided to take a detour through Spring Buff and Murphy's Creek. We stopped at the Spring Buff railway station that had suffered quite a bit of damage during the flash flooding. Everything had been restored but not all of the vegetation has regrown yet, around the new bridges which look a little out of place with their steel railings.

They say (quite accurately in my opinion) that a picture is worth a thousand words;