We’re heading west out of Brisbane, the car topped up, we’ve grabbed our road trip coffee and looking forward to being a part of the region’s biggest annual event, the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (click here for further info). Held in Spring (September) each year over 10 days the Carnival of Flowers is a celebration of flowers as well as food, wine and all things Spring.
A huge street parade, residential and public garden displays to check out, side-show alley, a Food and Wine Festival, live concerts and so much more to see and do. Spend a day or two with an overnight stay or take some extra time to savour all the carnival highlights, you will not be disappointed in this event. With so much to see and do across many locations where do you start so you can soak up all the atmosphere and colour of this magnificent Carnival.
Tip: There are plenty of accommodation options available in Toowoomba but as this Carnival can attract over 100,000 visitors it is a wise move to plan and book as early as possible.
It’s an easy drive to Toowoomba from Brisbane on mainly two-lane highway and after climbing the range, take the turn off to Picnic Point. You know that you’ve found the right place after driving along an avenue of towering mature hoop pine trees Picnic Point opens before you. This is an excellent place to stretch the legs, grab a coffee or a bite to eat from the restaurant/café and take in the spectacular views of the Lockyer Valley. This incredible vista will give you goose bumps, the air fresh and crisp and the day trip has only just begun. If you have the kids with you, Picnic Point also has one of the best adventure play grounds in the area with BBQ’s, undercover tables and seating and wide-open grassed areas with easy parking all close by.
Say G’day to the staff manning the Information hub where you can grab an information guide and “mud map” and book tours of the all the activities just waiting for you to explore. With so much to do and wanting to be fully immersed in this sea of vibrant colours and at this special show, the second stop of the day was the “grand daddy” of all the parks and gardens Queens Park Botanical Gardens.
Queens Park Botanical Gardens
Free Parking in the side streets was a breeze, if you don’t mind a little walk, although paid parking is available closer to the gardens. Queens Park Botanical Gardens always puts on a special show and today was no different. Entering through what is like a mini Arch de Triumph a whole new world opens before you. Wander down the camphor laurel lined avenue turn right, turn left, explore the maze, there’s something new to see wherever your eyes take you.
Bright flower beds with blooms of so many colours and exquisite perfumes, acres of lush manicured green lawns, children’s playground and if you get the chance climb to the top of the viewing tower to get a bird’s eye view of your Kingdom below. This would have to be a photographer’s dream.
Wandering musicians will keep you entertained as they mix with the crowd and if the hunger pangs strike there are food vans throughout or perhaps a visit to the Toowoomba Historical Society where an assortment of hot and cold drinks, baked goods, sandwiches & rolls are all available to satisfy your lunch time cravings. You can also BYO picnic basket as there are plenty of tables and chairs and grassy areas away from the crowds scattered throughout Queens Park Botanic Gardens. If the food options at Queens Park and not to your liking, the bustling Cafes in Margaret Street are situated just across the road and it’s only a short walk to the Toowoomba CBD with an unlimited variety of foods, flavours and restaurants.
Laurel Bank Park
Heading west from the Queens Park Botanical Gardens and situated on Herries Street, we are exploring our next stop for the day, the magnificent Laurel Bank Park.
This park while awash with a sea of strongly scented blooms and flower arrangements is totally different from what we have seen previously. These stately grounds feature graceful archways welcoming all visitors to this stunning flower display, hedges that have been clipped into train shapes and a children’s playground to keep the young at heart amused for hours. Don’t forget to climb the viewing tower and you’ll really be able to appreciate all that is on offer at Laurel Bank Park. It is a feast for the eyes.
The parks that we are visiting aren’t just all about the flowers and displays, you can also bring your own goodies and spread your picnic blanket on the manicured lawns or pull up a table and chair. There are many scattered throughout the park.
There are several food options available with pop up vans serving all manner of take away food. The croquet club has a top Devonshire Tea, or you can take your picnic goodies and grab an empty chair while sitting under some beautiful shady trees and enjoy the free music from the band playing all the well-known hits.
As is usual when we are ROAD TRIP’N for the day we also like to check out a local pub or café for lunch. Outside the park in Herries Street we discovered this great little place, Urban Grounds Café (click here for further info). Indoor/outdoor dining options, tempting local produce on the menu and a great selection of hot and cold drinks.
- Tip: Clean amenities are available and easily accessible.
- Parking: There is plenty of free parking in and around Laurel Bank Park. If you are travelling on a bus tour many of the buses have a designated parking area and drop off zone at the rear of the gardens.
What a full-on day this has been. The Carnival of Flowers has not failed to deliver and has fulfilled all our expectations. It was time to regroup and gather the senses as we head to what must be the most tranquil place and beautiful parks in Toowoomba on our road trip day out.
JU RAKU EN JAPANESE GARDEN TOOWOOMBA
Covering three hectares, this is one of Australia’s most traditionally designed Japanese Gardens. Mountain streams with waterfalls, dry gardens with cherry blossoms in bloom, kilometres of walking paths that wind their way through the native Australian trees and plants crossing over several bridges that span the central lake. Sit back and enjoy the water bird life, including swans, ducks and geese, playing on the lake or feed some bread to the fish that are scattered throughout these tranquil waters.
Wander down the shaded paths with the sunlight filtering through the overhead leafy branches and just enjoy just sitting on the many benches that are scattered around, all the while feeling the serenity. This is truly a place of peace and tranquillity.
- Tip: Parking – There is plenty of free parking in the side streets around the Japanese Gardens.
- There are no amenities or café on site. BYO picnic goodies as there are undercover tables and chairs and other seating available.
Our road trip today has only just scratched the surface of what is available to see and do at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. Come September 2019 and you’re looking at getting out and enjoying a day in the country, put this one on your bucket list.
- Useful Links – Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (click here)
- Fuel locations & prices (click here)
- Where is Public Toilets (click here)
- Toowoomba Visitor Information (click here)