Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Toowoomba "the Garden City"

Toowoomba (nicknamed 'The Garden City') lies in South East Queensland, Australia. It has an urban population of 95,265 and the city boasts a university and cathedral. It is Australia's second largest non-coastal city.
Toowoomba's colonial history traces back to 1816 when English botanist and explorer Allan Cunningham arrived in Australia from Brazil and in June 1827 discovered 16,000 km² of rich farming and grazing land bordered on the east by the Great Dividing Range and situated 160km west of the settlement of Moreton Bay. Thirteen years later when George and Patrick Leslie established Toolburra Station 90km south-west of Toowoomba the first settlers arrived on the Downs and established a township of bark-slab shops called The Springs which was soon renamed Drayton.
Towards the end of the 1840s Drayton had grown to the point where it had its own newspaper, general store, trading post and the Royal Bull's Head Inn, (which was built by William Horton and still stands today). By 1858 Toowoomba was continuing to grow and had a population of 700; three hotels and many shops. In 1860 a new municipality was proclaimed.
From our perspective, Toowoomba had a very neat town, with a fine collection of well preserved old buildings and some beautiful parkland and rose gardens. Well named, 'the Garden City'.
It was here that we saw our first Queensland Bottle Tree. More luxuriously foliated than the Baobob tree but with the same chubby shape.
There was obviously an event involving 'hi-boy' vehicles. There were several in evidence. We spotted this one parked near to our motel.
The climate in Toowoomba is far more temperate than anywhere to the east. The reason is that the city (Australia's largest inland city) lies upon the Great Dividing Range. This made for beautiful cool evenings and a wonderful panoramic view from the picnic viewing point.
Another claim to fame for Toowoomba is the museum to Cobb and Co. This company's name will pop up repeatedly throughout our trip as they were the main line of communication for mail, packages and people from the 1850s through to mid-1920s. There was a TV series in the early 60s starring Peter Graves as Christopher Cobb - I remember it, but most of you will be too young to do so.
Ironically Toowoomba does feature a great deal in the history of Cobb and Co. But it does have some of the best restored coaches from the famous company and many that are just representative of the era. We spent a happy morning there browsing the exhibits and chatting to the friendly staff. A few of the exhibits were fun. We particularly liked this one showing an advertisement for canned mountain air. "The contents will retain their beneficial properties indefinitely if the open tin is left in as clean airy place".
Finally the museum were displaying a collection of hand made "shoes as art". This wonderful collection was the work of Jackie Orme Ward and Adrian Lockwood of the Pendragon Boot Company.

In the town we were particularly attracted to just a few places and the photographs follow:
The Art Deco theatre.

A small park containing indiginous sculpture.
A sale area for windmill pumps.

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