My partner and I spent last weekend in Toowoomba, exploring the beautiful parks, street art-filled laneways and stuffing our faces with tasty culinary delights! Here’s my guide to a fun gourmet weekend away in the Garden City (just an hour and a half drive from Brisbane).
Photography Mark Zeidler
I have to say, Toowoomba is not what it used to be. Once a sleepy country town, it has undergone a massive rejuvenation in recent years and is a pretty hip place to be now! There are plenty of amazing eateries, cool street art in the various laneways and you can even do a spot of retail shopping too thanks to the brand new Grand Central shopping centre.
I was super impressed with Walton Stores – a laneway precinct filled with a diverse range of casual dining options. We ate both lunch and dinner at Junk – an Asian street food restaurant, and I can happily report the food was absolutely delish!
The streets throughout Toowoomba city are filled with laneways – made more charming now by all of the street art covering the buildings’ walls. Toowoomba have the First Coat International Art Festival to thank for the city’s large scale murals from artists all across the globe. It’s fun to stumble across all of the various murals and they certainly make the city more vibrant!
It seems almost every suburb in Toowoomba has some form of beautifully landscaped park or garden – and two you should definitely check out are Queens Park and the Japanese Gardens at USQ. Pack a picnic lunch and take in the leafy surroundings. If you’re headed to Queens Park and love heritage homes, take a walk around the surrounding streets. There are some gorgeous homes and well worth a sticky beak! And if you’re a flower enthusiast like myself, you’ll want to visit in September for the Carnival of Flowers.
Located in a narrow laneway off Ruthven Street (one of the main streets in Toowomba’s city centre), Ground Up Espresso Bar is THE place for coffee in Toowoomba. I can attest their breakfasts are equally tasty, and that’s partly thanks to them using the best sourdough in town (from cult-like bakery The Baker’s Duck). The service was also warm and friendly. If we were to move to Toowoomba, this would be our regular breakfast hangout spot.
We also had breakfast at Emeraude – a micro region eatery in the sleepy town of Hampton (a half hour drive out of Toowoomba). The food was absolutely divine, and well worth the drive. All of the fruit, vegetables and meat are sourced locally in the immediate region, making for the best (and freshest) gourmet experience you’re likely to ever have.
No trip to Toowoomba would be complete without a spot of shopping at Harolds Finishing Touches. Owner Aaron is such a delight to chat to, and has a carefully curated selection of homewares on offer. I highly doubt you’ll leave empty-handed. There are so many treasures to find in store. The good news for those of you who don’t live nearby - they also have an online shop!
Another cute store to check out is The Bungalow and Basket, and they have a great little coffee and cake bar inside too. And there are so many more cafes and restaurants than what I have listed here. We just didn’t have time to try everywhere – it definitely is a great excuse to go back for another visit. In fact, I’m even contemplating moving to Toowoomba. I can totally picture myself living there. And it doesn’t hurt that the housing is much more affordable than Brisbane. Has anyone else contemplated a country or sea change to a smaller city/town? I’m keen to give it a go. I’ve always said so long as there is a courier service and internet, I can work anywhere (as I work from home)!