- Category: Parks & Gardens
- Hits: 2617
Laurel Bank Park is located along Hill Street only a short distance from the heart of Toowoomba’s CBD.
It’s a sanctuary close to town that allows people to take a time out and admire the beauty that Toowoomba has to offer.
The parkland on a 4.5 hectare site, was originally owned by Samuel George Stephens (known to the locals as the “Man of Flowers”) had designed the original layout of the garden himself. Mr Stephens graciously donated the park to the people of Toowoomba in 1932 and requested that council be care taker.
The park has many facilities including a children’s play area, barbecue facilities, picnic area, a croquet lawn (the only sporting activity allowed within the park) and there is also a viewing platform to allow the full glory of the parks floral gardens to be admired from an elevated perspective.
The park has a scented gardens area which also includes the Yellow Jacaranda. There are many fully developed exotic trees in the park including the English Oak and Lithocarpus trees.
Laurel Bank Park Hall, located within the park along Hill Street was constructed during WWII as a mess hall (a room or building where soldiers eat together, mess – meaning a quantity of food) for US Naval personnel. The buildings nowadays is used by the community as a meeting hall.
The parkland is a popular for social activities including wedding ceremonies and photos
The official council web page for the Laurel Bank Park.
- Category: Parks & Gardens
- Hits: 2772
The idea for the Toowoomba Japanese Gardens stemmed from a group of Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education academics, namely Dr Adrian Allen who developed the Asian Studies program for the institute and wanted to offer their students an experience that would bring them closer to Asia, but without having to travel there.
The designing and planing of the gardens commenced in 1980 as a joint venture between the institute and the Toowoomba City Council.
The project engaged the assistance of Japanese professor Kinsaku Nakane from Kyoto, Japan to help design the garden who also named it ‘Ju Raku En’ which loosely translates ’to enjoy peace and longevity in a public place’
It took approximately three years for the planning and design phase before construction finally commenced in 1983. It then took another six years to construct the garden, when it was finally opened in the 21st April 1989 by Mr Uoshiharu Araki (Brisbane’s Consul-General of Japan at the time).
The Garden is located on a three hectare site at the University of Southern Queensland, and is one of Australia’s largest Japanese Gardens and ranks within the top 25 gardens outside of Japan. The garden has close to 100,000 visitors per year.
Even though the Toowoomba Japanese Garden is over 25 years old it is far from mature, and will continue to develop in years to come.
The garden has many features of a traditional Japanese Garden including pathways stretching approximately three kilometers, a mountain stream, waterfall, central lake, blossom trees, multiple bridges, Japanese maple trees, a dry garden (also known as a Zen Garden, called a dry garden because it needs little or no water), and viewing platforms to admire the area.
Like many parks and gardens within Toowoomba, the Japanese Gardens is a popular venue for wedding ceremonies, and the garden does have a car park and conference facilities.
The garden is located at 20 Regent St, Darling Heights QLD 4350 (4Km south of the city centre)
Council web site: Japanese Gardens
- Category: History
- Hits: 1895
The original Cobb & Co was established in Melbourne at the height of the gold rush by four American partners, including including Freeman Cobb.
The intent was to serve the gold fields but soon included services for passengers, gold and mail.
The company had changed hands several times, and the original founders of the company sold it in 1856, which was purchased by another American, John Rutherford.
The company expanded into New South Wales in 1862 when the gold was discovered at Bathurst. Further expansion into Queensland occurred in 1865 and the first service to operate there was between Ipswich and Brisbane, then eventually further expansion into regional Queensland. Toowoomba was the first stop in Queensland upon entry from the southern state of New South Wales.
At the height of it’s success in 1881, the Cobb & Co became a company and had over 3,000 horses, £50,000 in capital, and covered a network of over 10,000 miles a week.
The Queensland/New South Wales branch of the Cobb & Co eventually separated from the Victorian arm to form two separate entities.
Horse driven carriages services ultimately reached the height of their usefulness in the late nineteenth century, when other means of transport including trains, cars and air services provided a more efficient means.
The last coach service to operate in Queensland was in August 1924.
The Cobb & Co Museum which is a part of the Queensland Museum, was open in 1987 to showcase Australia’s finest collection of horse drawn carriages, including a collection of three carriages from the Cobb and Co which the museum is named after.
The museums collection was the result of a tireless passion by Mr William (Bill) Robert Fossey (WRF) Bolton (1905 – 1973) to gather the collection.
Mr Bolton had collected the carriages originally and had them on display in James St, Toowoomba from 1965 until a fire almost destroyed the collection in 1981, but luckily the collection was managed to be saved.
Prior to 1982 the museum barely had a collection of any horse drawn carriages until the collection was donated to the museum by the daughter and son in law of Mr Bolton.
The vehicles remained in storage from 1982 until 1987 when a new location in Toowoomba was located for them.
In 2001 the second stage of the Cobb & Co museum development was completed for a display space for Toowoomba & Darling Downs history. The museum now encompasses an area of over 2,000 square meters. In 2010 the museum had an $8 million redevelopment.
The museum currently house over 50 horse drawn carriages. It is climate controlled, is wheel chair accessible and has a gift shop.
Website: Cobb and Co. Museum
Address: 27 Lindsay St, Toowoomba
- Category: Entertainment
- Hits: 1797
The Empire Theatre in Toowoomba is the largest regional theatre in Australia and is owned by the Toowoomba Regional Council.
The original theatre was built in 1911, but was rebuilt in 1933 after being subject to fire. The building is of an art deco style and contains amazing architectural style including a proscenium arch. Palm trees grace the exterior of the building.
Until the advent of television during the 1960, the Empire Theatre was the centre of entertainment for the Toowoomba community. The unfortunate gradual decline of audience numbers however ultimately culminated with the screening of the last film at the theatre in 1971.
Eventually the theatre was sold to businessmen in 1973. The Queensland government purchased the building in 1975 and was used as a technical college and Technical And Further Education (TAFE).
The building was purchased by the Toowoomba city council and underwent extensive renovations during the 1990’s whilst still retaining much of the buildings original architectural features. The building was reopened in 1997.
The main stage has a width of thirteen meters and a depth of twelve meters. There is enough seating capacity for up to 1565 persons.
The Empire Theatre comprises a precinct of several venues, including the main auditorium, the recently purpose built Armitage Centre, Empire Church Theatre, Empire Theatre Studio, The Supper Room and The Lounge Bar.
Theatre performances include music, children's events, circus and magic events, dance, musical theatre and cabaret, comedy, drama, classical and film.
The different venues of the theatre can be booked for various functions, events meetings, conferences. The theatre also holds several tours of the precinct hilighting the history and architecture of the theatre.
The Empire Theatre is located at 54-56 Neil St, Toowoomba
Website address: Empire Theatre
- Category: History
- Hits: 1853
The Royal Bull's Head Inn was built in 1859 by William Horton, an ex-convict from England who was charged with larceny.
William built the inn at a location known as 'The Springs' later renamed Drayton, the first area of the Toowoomba region to be settled.
The inn was ideally situated as Drayton was part of the thoroughfare between Brisbane and the Darling Downs region.
It was extended in the late 1850's, although by this time, Toowoomba, then known as 'The Swamp' was already established and expanding fast.
The Inn was acquired by the National Trust of Queensland in 1973 after the last surviving member of William's immediate family, his son Alan Lynch died.
The ground floor was renovated in 1984, and the top floor in 1987.
The University of Southern Queensland conducted archaeological excavations in 2014 to uncover any artifacts pertaining to the Inn's history, although archaeological excavations had also been conducted in the 1970's.