Everything you need to know about Toowoomba in one handy post!

Throughout the year, we've been publishing blog posts about Toowoomba - where to eat, where to stay, what to do here - to help you plan your trip.

As we head into the final weekend before the conference, we thought we'd gather up all those useful posts in one place, so you've got a handy reference throughout the conference.

We've also summarised the information in these posts - particularly about places to eat, drink and get coffee, and how to get around Toowoomba - in the conference app.

What to expect in Toowoomba

Here's some background on what to expect in Toowoomba, from weather to tap water (apparently ours is the best tasting in the country!).

Update: We also wanted to give you a heads up on the weather forecast for next week. Chances of rain are high - currently a 90% chance on Monday. We strongly recommend you bring a fold up umbrella with you to keep you dry as you move around campus.

Getting around Toowoomba

We haven't blogged about getting around but it's pretty important info, so we thought we'd include it here.

To get to and from the conference (including the conference dinner), we recommend catching the conference shuttle bus. Check out the timetable so you can plan your days.

If you're driving, there is plenty of free parking on campus. Just check the signs to make sure you're in the a free car park, and make sure you don't park in assigned bays. There's even free covered parking in the university's new solar panel car park.

Uber operates in Toowoomba, and there's a taxi service too. More info on the travel page.

Where to eat and drink

You might be surprised to know that Toowoomba has quite the culinary scene these days! We've given you a run down of our favourite haunts in the following posts:

What to do in Toowoomba

Looking for something to do before or after the conference? We've got you covered with these blog posts:

Still need more info?

If you have any questions about Toowoomba at any stage, we are more than happy to answer. You can

  • ask us via Twitter - just tag us in your tweet (we're @asciliteconf).
  • talk to us in person at the conference - the Committee will all be wearing rainbow coloured lanyards, and volunteers will be wearing green tshirts. We'll also have members of the Committee on the registration and speaker desks all day.
  • email us but note we're likely to be running around a lot over the three days so responses may be a little delayed. Our email address is ascilite2017@usq.edu.au.

We can't wait to welcome you to USQ and Toowoomba on Monday!

Where to go for dinner in Toowoomba

My family first moved to Toowoomba in 1971 from the UK. In those days, the height of fine dining was the Wimpy Bar that served hamburgers and chips at the servo as you came up the range. It wasn’t until the late 1970s (maybe the early 1980s) that McDonalds came to town. I can remember my whole family dressing up for the night out which turned to disaster when I spilled my strawberry thick shake down my father’s brown vinyl coat that was at the cutting edge of Darling Downs fashion at the time. He sat outside in a mood in our HD Holden (affectionately known as ‘Bertha’) as the rest of the family savoured their cheeseburgers and chips. We would not be hurried; this was haute cuisine. We knew Toowoomba had become a truly cosmopolitan world city when the Golden Dragon opened next to Myer. Never before had our palates savoured anything like the delights of beef in black bean sauce. We had arrived. These were the heady days of 1982.

Thankfully, things have moved on since then. These days, the population has swelled to around 115,000. There are lots of bars, cafes and restaurants to suit even the most jaded palate. ASCILITE Conference goers will have a chance to sample what’s on offer during the Monday night dine around.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, as you’d expect, you can track down a decent steak at a number of pubs and restaurants. If you want to experience a pub with a country feel, you might head to the Downs Hotel. Just across the road is Grumpy’s Tavern Steak House where they serve the biggest ribs I’ve ever seen! We grow ‘em big on the Darling Downs!

Largely because of the university, there is a quite a culturally diverse population in Toowoomba and with that diversity comes a number of excellent and interesting restaurants. Sofra is a very atmospheric Turkish restaurant with a rich décor and delicious food. Some nights you can strike it lucky and catch some belly dancing as well. Just around the corner, El Attar Middle Eastern Grill serves exquisite Egyptian cuisine. Personally, I find it hard to go past a shawarma! There is a good range of Asian cuisine as well. I enjoy eating at Kajoku which serves Japanese and Korean food. It’s hard to believe you’re in Toowoomba as you pick your way through an assortment of kimchi and other delights. Junk is an Asian street food restaurant that has won the hearts and minds of locals. I always seem to succumb to eyes-bigger-than-my-belly-syndrome here. It’s something I’m working on, but progress is slow and the treatment protracted. Chinese deliciousness is the order of the day at the Garden Restaurant. This is still a favourite of my family and to us, Chinese food remains a firm favourite even though the Golden Dragon is long gone. Toowoomba has some excellent Thai restaurants such as the award-winning Thai Royal, the Thai on High Street and the Thai Cottage. A relative newcomer to the scene is Muller Bros which has a range of dining options including a rooftop bar and a Brazilian BBQ. I like to fast for 36 hours before I go.

If your tastes are situated closer to home, there are a number of restaurants serving contemporary Australian cuisine. Check out The Office which is right in the heart of town or Seasons which serves a delicious assortment of seafood yumminess or Potters which is quite new on the scene.

If you are still dubious about Toowoomba’s claims to culinary greatness, then the following should put it to rest for all time. Toowoomba is actually the birthplace of the lamington. This iconic Australian cake was invented at Toowoomba’s Harlaxton House when the Governor of Queensland, Lord Lamington, brought his entourage to Toowoomba to escape the heat, sometime between mid-December 1900 and mid-February, 1901. Better try a lamington while you’re here!

The other iconic dessert that Toowoomba is famous for is the Weis Bar! Summer is not complete without the consumption of a couple of dozen of these tasty treats. I’ve noticed that they serve them now on Qantas flights. A highlight in a generally disappointing culinary experience en route!

As you can tell, I have diligently and selflessly applied myself to the continued testing of Toowoomba’s vast assortment of restaurants to help you find the best we've got to ofer. There are many more than I’ve been able to talk about here.

Don't forget to check out the details for the dine around and start planning where you'd like to eat on Monday night!

What to do in Toowoomba

Are you having some extra time in Toowoomba?

Bringing a partner and/or family with you and wondering what they can get up to whilst you are enjoying all the informative sessions?

Here are just a few ideas that you might like to consider:

Japanese Gardens and Gumbi Gumbi Gardens @USQ

The Japanese Gardens are the location for our Welcome Reception on Monday night and well worth a return visit- a wonderful place for reinvigorating your mind at lunch time. Gumbi Gumbi Gardens are our award winning Indigenous gardens and another peaceful area of the university to visit in the lunchbreak. Check out the self guided tour on our app, available from the webpage

Christmas Wonderland

Our iconic Queens Park comes alive with themed Christmas lights and displays, with performances for local music groups and dance troupes. Gold coin donation that supports local charities

Cobb & Co Museum

With a core exhibit of horse drawn carriages, hands-on activities and lots of local history and culture, Cobb & Co is well-worth a visit – allow yourself at least a couple of hours

Toowoomba Sightseeing Tours

Offering two different tours - East side and west side that each last two hours. A fun way to orient yourself and see all the highlights of our beautiful city

Picnic Point

The venue for our conference dinner, the parklands around Picnic Point offer spectacular views across the Lockyer Valley and several walking tracks

Queens Park and other gardens

No visit to Toowoomba is complete without a stroll through our beautiful Queens park – well worth an early morning visit for those staying in the CBD. There are also many other parks and gardens throughout the city- and for the energetic, you can always walk all the way to USQ??

For other ideas and attractions visit the Toowoomba Tourist Information Centre  or the Toowoomba Regional Council website

Of course, these are only a few of the experiences in Toowoomba - make sure that you share yours either in the comments below, or via our Twitter hashtag #ASCILITE17.

Where to go for drinks in Toowoomba

After jam-packed days of listening to world-class keynotes, engaging in innovative sessions and connecting with peers and colleagues, you might think it’s time for a drink. Toowoomba does not disappoint, whatever your tipple.  As always, you can find a Google Map embedded in the name of each establishment.

The Moose
Domestic Lane, Walton Stores

The Moose is the newest player on the Toowoomba drinks scene, but also on the dessert scene. Not only is it a cocktail bar by night, but a chocolate parlour too. As you’re greeted by the large copper moose head above the fireplace, sit back and indulge in chocolate fondue with doughnut bites, or perhaps enjoy the Nutella tap. On the drinks front, try a candy sour that resembles a pink and white strawberry cream lolly with raspberries on top.

Muller Bros
25-27 Bell St

Muller Bros is Toowoomba’s favourite rooftop bar, situated in the city just off Ruthven St. The building dates back to the early 1900s as a hardware store alongside a motorbike workshop and sales department for Royal Enfield. At present day, as a restaurant, café and bar, they have one of the best cocktail menus and wine lists. Try a grapefruit margarita, traditional, yet classic grasshopper (aptly named, Patience my Young Grasshopper) or for something more adventurous, The Fig Honey Collins which has fig liquor, Bombay Gin, lemon juice, lemongrass syrup all mixed with soda. If you’re heading out with a group of your new #ASCILITE17 friends, get a pitcher of spiked ginger beer. All these drinks are of course accompanied by a delectable small plate and platter menu.

153 Margaret St

If pubs are more your scene, look no further than Fitzy’s on Church and it`s adjoining bar Tapestry. There are a range of dining areas and bars, indoors and outdoors. There is a huge selection of drinks ranging from craft beer to cocktails, and food ranging from snacks to multi-course meals so you can sit back and settle in for as long as you want. The espresso martinis are especially delightful. Live music is often playing here too.

Now that you're sorted for food and drink in Toowoomba, look forward to some more conference news over the next week.  The organising committee still have surprises to be revealed.

Where to go for coffee in Toowoomba

Toowoomba is holding its own as a destination for a superior caffeinated experience. Try some of the cafés below to indulge your tastebuds.  As with the post covering breakfast, you'll find a handy Google Map embedded in each address.

Ground Up Espresso Bar
501 Ruthven St, Toowoomba
6.30am - 3.30pm

Ground Up is one of the most popular coffee locations in Toowoomba for very good reason. It consistently rates high on Trip Advisor, Bean Hunter and Facebook and brings a little taste of Melbourne to Toowoomba. With its cool laneway vibe filled with street art, Ground Up offers a range house blends, single origins and cold pressed options. You can also buy handmade ceramic keep cups at the counter – first coffee in it is free.

Deli Delicious
125 Herries Street
6.30am - 6.00pm

Deli Delicious has been providing Toowoomba with exceptional coffee since 2004. As a family run store the hospitality is generous and the atmosphere casual and friendly. There’s a wide selection of drinks to choose from and this can be accompanied with cabinet lunches and desserts. While you’re there, don’t forget to try deli goods, such as local fruit and vegetables, meats and cheeses.

GPO Bar and Café
140 Margaret Street
6.30am - 4.00pm

GPO is housed in the old Toowoomba post office – a stunning sandstone building just off Queens Park. They offer Campos Coffee (with fantastic latte art), including the flagship Superior Blend in addition to various teas, juices and smoothies. For something different, try the citron presse – a mix of lemon juice, mint, syrup de gomme and soda. GPO also offers a full breakfast and lunch menu.

Right now, ASCILITE 2017 has you covered for the conference dinner, breakfast, and that all-important coffee. We've not forgotten other meals, so the next posts will take you onward to dinner (and drinks!).

Dine Around for ASCILITE 2017

Monday night in Toowoomba is usually the quietest night of the week, but that will not be the case this year as this is the chance for all ASCILITE delegates to hit the town and make merry with friends old and new.

We have compiled a list of some of the iconic establishments in the CBD and around the City Golf Club giving you a range of cuisines, prices and timings with an aim of meeting all tastes. Dine Around options will give you the chance to wine and dine with a group of friends/delegates with a common interest (think about the ASCILITE SIGs, or  Mentor/Mentee meetings), for first timers to meet the faces behind your favourite paper, or even put some faces to those Tweets.

On the conference website we have provided details of all the restaurants and will have sign up sheets available at the registration desk. Start thinking now about who you would like to dine with, and where you would like to go. Of course, there is no obligation for you to dine at any of these establishments but we do recommend all of these.

However, we understand if there are some difficult choices ahead, given your options and the fantastic location of the conference dinner.  You might like to visit other places on the list during the week. Other options for casual dining - particularly over the weekend -are the newly-completed café and restaurant precinct of Grand Central Shopping Centre, and the cafes and eateries at Waltons Stores.

We are looking forward to a chance to chat, reminisce, and make new memories with friends old and new.  Start making your plans today because there are less than twenty sleeps until the conference (a thought either exhilarating or terrifying - depending on whether you are on the organising committee, or an attendee).

Where to go for breakfast in Toowoomba

You will be spoilt for choice if you venture outside your hotel and explore some of the breakfast options Toowoomba has to offer.  We've done the hard work of whittling the list down for you.  If you find a place for the ultimate breakfast experience, be sure to share it via Twitter - don't keep the best spots for yourself!  Each location has a Google Map embedded in the address.

15 Railway Street
7:00am – 3:30pm

Ortem is situated in an old ball bearing factory and has a cool, industrial vibe. Delicious food and drinks are served indoors and out, with street-side seating overlooking the heritage-listed railway station. Breakfast items include smashed avo, croissant French toast and the brekky bagel made with a Bagel Boys bagel, bacon, soft scrambled egg, guacamole and béarnaise sauce.

Park House Café
92 Margaret Street

Park House Café is a staple on the Toowoomba dining scene and has the enviable location of being directly opposite Queens Park. All produce is sourced fresh from local farms on the Darling Downs and in the Lockyer Valley. Breakfast is available all day and includes sweet coconut bread with honeycomb butter, waffles with maple syrup and ice cream and spinach and feta hotcakes. Or, if you’re feeling especially hungry, the Park House Breakfast is one of the biggest in town.

The Finch
Shop 2, 469-473 Ruthven St

The Finch provides real food on the fly and are known for their Bahn Mi rolls. Breakfast is served all day with the early bird deal of a ham and cheese croissant with regular coffee a favourite for $10 (available until 9:00am daily). Gluten free and vegetarian options are available, such as roasted Goombungee mushrooms with garlic, thyme, feta and a poached egg on sourdough and 100g Angus beef fillet with bacon, hash brown, pork sausage and poached eggs with house tomato and onion relish. For something different, try the shakshuka – a Moroccan spice infused baked egg.

There you have it; your guide to breakfast in Toowoomba.  Many of you though will be asking 'what about coffee?', and we'll address that in the very next post, so stay tuned to stay caffeinated.


What to expect in Toowoomba

As  I sit here at my desk listening to the howling wind and rain I am reminded that Queensland does not always live up to her name of “The Sunshine State".  This is the view today from our office window looking over to Alison Dickson Theatre, the main venue for our conference in just a few weeks.

This post was prompted by conversations at the recent ASCILITE Spring into Excellence Research School (an exhilarating and rewarding few days which I would highly recommend). Attendees wanted to know more about Toowoomba and what to expect while they are at the conference.

So here are a few facts and figures to help answer that question.

Toowoomba (The Garden City) sits on top of the Great Dividing Range at an altitude of 691m. With a population of approximately 115,000, we are the largest inland non-capital city in Australia.

In December we have almost 14 hours of daylight, with sunrise around 4.50am and sunset around 6.30pm. We suggest you make the most of this with an early morning stroll through one of our numerous parks and gardens or a leisurely breakfast catch up with friends new and old.

Our weather is variable so we suggest you bring layers and raincoat. While the average temperature in December is 29OC, the current long term forecast on one site is for some thunderstorms for the week of the conference. All rooms at USQ are air conditioned, which means it can be considerably cooler inside than out so a light cardigan or jacket is suggested.

Our campus is 6.5 km from the CBD so we highly recommend using the free shuttle bus being offered for delegates from the three conference hotels. More information on this will be posted closer to the conference start. Public transport consists of buses only with several routes passing by the university and services approximately every half hour. More information on travel.

If flying in to Toowoomba we recommend you request a window seat so you can view the rich tapestry of farmland as you descend into Toowoomba.

What you won’t see much of around Toowoomba is running water – there are no rivers in our area and the nearest lakes are about half an hour drive. Our tap water has just been announced as tastiest in Australia, so bring a refillable bottle with you!

What we can guarantee for this year’s ASCILITE conference is a friendly welcome, good times, good company, stimulating presentations and opportunities for networking. We look forward to welcoming you.

Where to stay in Toowoomba

So you’re coming to ASCILITE 2017! Have you found somewhere to stay?

Toowoomba and its surroundings won't disappoint with plenty of accommodation options – motels, apartments, bed and breakfasts and caravan parks.

For starters, the conference committee has secured discounted accommodation rates at Toowoomba Central Plaza Apartments, The City Golf Club Motel and the Potter’s Motel. See the accommodation page for pricing and room facilities. Catch the complimentary bus service from these accommodation options for hassle free travel to the conference venue daily.

Accommodation with old world charm

For many, a visit to Toowoomba is not complete without a stay in one of the impressive, grand old homes.

Top of the traveller’s list in 2016 (TripAdvisor) was Wanulla, a superb bed and breakfast in the heritage Caledonian Estate. Wanulla provides guests with an extra level of comfort in an elegant setting. Guests can enjoy snuggling up in large ensuited bedrooms, as well as relaxing in the extensive lounge and dining room furnished with classic antique pieces. Wanulla is only a few minutes walk from Toowoomba’s CBD, Queen’s Park with its magnificent gardens, and numerous nearby cafes.

Vacy Hall by Andrew Napier available under a CC-BY-2.0 license

Another all-time favourite is Vacy Hall, the only heritage-listed accommodation in Toowoomba’s quiet inner city. This 12 roomed, classically decorated guesthouse boasts large luxury rooms as well as more modest quarters. Vacy Hall is set on over an acre of landscaped gardens with large 140 year old trees. If a country style breakfast is on your to-do list, you can have it served to your room or on the colonial verandah.  TripAdvisor describes Vacy Hall as “Tranquility, peace with history”.

Banksia Cottage may fit your needs perfectly if bringing your family or coming to the conference as a group. Rented as an entire cottage, you will have privacy and freedom. This accommodation is even pet friendly. Built in 1898, Banksia Cottage combines historic charm with modern day comforts and is located in tree-lined Norwood Street on the doorstep of the City.

If you are interested in immersing yourself in history then perhaps check out Augusta’s Cottage located in historic Mort Estate. This conveniently located cottage with its high ceilings and double brick walls nestled in beautiful gardens, is perfect for couples, families or small groups.

Having a car will allow you to stay a little further afield to experience a truly unique Australian experience. Rudd’s historic pub at Nobby, winner of Queensland and Australian Hotel’s Association Best Pub Style Accommodation Awards can provide just that. For something totally different, choose a queen room with a shower under a rain water tank or maybe the family room with an old fashioned claw foot bath to relax in. A complimentary traditional Australian country breakfast completes the package.


Renting a whole apartment instead of hotel room, may sound extravagant but I think you will be pleasantly surprised how cost effective furnished apartments can be in Toowoomba. Coupled with the extra space, is the added bonus of being able to cook and eat just like at home, if desired. Just a few of your options are…

Laguna: stylish, comfortable, two bedroom contemporary apartments located close to Toowoomba’s CBD, and within walking distance to many of the city’s glorious gardens, restaurants and the Empire Theatre. Laguna is a perfect choice for business and leisure trips. Apartments include fully equipped kitchens and laundry facilities. Come home from a day at the conference and relax on the balcony taking in the views of the city.

Athena provides the choice of premium two or three bedroom apartments, or the popular studio suite. All apartments are equipped with self-contained kitchens in an open plan living design. But, there is so much more to Athena – a 24 hour gym, restaurant, pool, bar and games as well as access to the shuttle from the Toowoomba Wellcamp airport. Whether your trip is purely to attend ASCILITE or combine a family holiday in Toowoomba, Athena will provide a luxurious stay. Athena is a “sensational stay” (TripAdvisor).

21 On Hursley: luxury, spacious quiet one or two bedroom ensuited apartment accommodation just 10 minutes by car from the University. Enjoy a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher, microwave and full size fridge as well as modern furnishings, spa baths, lock up garage and Foxtel. These apartments won’t disappoint – quality abounds from the towels to the kitchen equipment. HotelsCombined awarded 21 On Hursley, the 2017 Recognition of Excellence award while guests rate the apartments 9.9.


When it comes to motels, Toowoomba caters for all budgets and tastes with a plethora of clean, comfortable and quiet motels within easy commute of the conference venue and all that is on offer in the city.

Comfort Inn Glenfield ticks the boxes if you looking for a comfortable, economical stay located close to the University, shopping centre and eateries.

Applegum Inn, situated in a beautiful east Toowoomba tree lined street close to Queen’s Park and the Empire theatre is another economical option offering easy access with all units on the ground floor and undercover parking. Choose to have breakfast and dinner delivered to your room or sample the food on offer at the onsite restaurant. Guest laundry facilities complete the package.

Best Western Plus Ambassador on Ruthven Motor Inn is hard to beat as a quality, newly renovated eco-friendly motel. Winner of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence awards in 2014, 2015 and 2016, this 4 star motel provides clean, comfortable rooms for couples, singles, families and groups, as well as spa suites. For stress free dining try Seasons, the licensed onsite restaurant and wine bar.

Platinum International is an exclusive, stylish 4 star accommodation located in a perfect location for conference delegates. Consecutive winner of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence awards and renown for immaculate presentation with up to date furnishings and coverings, quiet rooms, kitchenettes, friendly, professional staff and a quality buffet breakfast. For a fine dining experience, onsite Images Restaurant and Lounge Bar should be on your ‘must try’ list while in town.

Caravan park

The BIG4 Toowoomba Garden City Holiday Park is a perfect base for the ASCILITE conference being easy walking distance from a great little shopping centre, and just over 2 kilometres from USQ. The park has a wide selection of fully self-contained modern cabin accommodation to suit all budgets and needs, as well as catering for wide range of caravans, motorhomes and campervans.


Toowoomba has many Airbnb properties, from private rooms to guest houses to entire properties. Check out the local Superhosts or see the whole range of properties on offer in Toowoomba.

Other options

For other accommodation options, check out these websites:

My top 5 things to do while you're in Toowoomba

Think Toowoomba's not the most exciting place to visit for a conference? Think again! Over the next few months, we're going to share with you some of the things we love about Toowoomba, to help you with planning your trip.

My early memories of Toowoomba are of a loveable, sleepy country town. But, the “Garden City” has long outgrown this image, boasting a revamped and relaxed CBD, craft beer houses, music, art, modern dining and the hub of a region that has so much to explore and enjoy.  If you have 1 or 2 days after the conference, consider exploring the National Parks, historic farms and eateries in the Darling Downs… It’s so difficult to choose but my 5 top things to do while you are in the Toowoomba region are:

1. Eateries and Bars

Melbourne-esq style eateries

Toowoomba city has followed in the footsteps of Melbourne and is embracing the trend of laneway eateries. Locals start their work day in the city with a caffeine hit, or two, from Ground Up Espresso Bar. This little laneway café is all about perfectly brewed coffee, amazing baked treats, a trendy outdoor setting and friendly staff. It’s also a perfect starting place for a lazy weekend spent wandering through the streets of the city discovering the magical wall murals hidden throughout the streets (mentioned in Carmel’s post). When your legs need a rest, and you need a treat, stop in at Hello Harry for a gourmet burger (and some chips, and a shake!) and wash it down with an ice-cream made using liquid nitrogen at Nitrogenie. The ice-cream menu changes weekly so you never know what to expect – except that the ice-cream is always perfectly smooth and creamy.

If you’re looking for a bite to eat that is a little bit healthier, I like to frequent Full of Life Organics for a fresh juice and a salad packed full of the latest super foods. This café is a quiet place to relax with a shaded outdoor seating area, perfectly located in the CBD for a spot of ‘people watching’.

A short distance from the CBD, but still in easy walking distance is Railway Street - aptly named as it runs beside the railway line. It offers numerous café choices – Ortem, Engine Room café, Homegrown Health and Inbound Brasserie. I tend to gravitate towards Ortem for its delicious fresh foods. Its menu is an ever-changing choice of edgy takes on classic dishes. This place is seriously cool, and loved by Toowoomba locals.

International cuisine

Personally, when travelling I like to try something a little braver. Kajoku Korean & Japanese Cuisine hits the spot every time with its diverse menu. If you have never been to a Korean restaurant this is a great place to expand your culinary horizons. The wait staff are very polite and helpful and will happily show you how to barbecue the meat on your table. If cooking your own meat isn’t your thing (you have to do that enough at home!), I recommend trying the yakisoba or the hot stone mixed rice. Of course, if you decide to enjoy some sake, then you might want to try out their karaoke room after your meal.

Another favourite haunt of mine is Sofra. This is Turkish cuisine at its best and offers a very charming experience with an intimate atmosphere. Sofra is as much about the lively entertainment and over-the-top decoration as it is about the diverse menu and wine list.

Good ol’ country pubs

Toowoomba’s great food doesn’t stop in the city. The country areas around the city are filled with pubs offering deliciously filling, old-school meals. Take a drive past Highfields checking out the rural scenery and stop at Meringandan Hotel for lunch and a cool beer. This pub has a 41/2 star rating on Trip Advisor and deserves each of these stars for the huge homemade meals and friendly staff. Or there’s the Farmer’s Arms at Cabarlah - famed as the longest continually-licensed pub in Queensland (since 1863 the sign out front proclaims!).

Another pub offering a great meal, with a side of fascinating history is Rudd’s Pub, which was built in 1893 and originally known as the Davenporter Hotel. The name change recognises Steel Rudd– famous for the “Dad & Dave” stories.  The pub lets you “eat in a museum” – photographs and memorabilia covering the walls and ceilings telling stories of days gone by. The hardest task is deciding what to eat. With over 50 mouth-watering items on Mabel’s Kitchen menu it’s hard to pick: Dads Mighty Mixed Grill; Dave's Terrific T-Bone; Reef and Beef... and the list goes on.


A chilled night out in Toowoomba starts at Muller Bros rooftop bar in the Toowoomba CBD. This bar is the epitome of trendy with cocktails, nibble platters and live music all part of its appeal. I mean what could be better than buffalo wings, dips and cheeses with unlimited cocktails/wines/beers?! Muller Bros also offers a Brazilian BBQ restaurant (all you can eat).

2. Boyce Gardens

Toowoomba has many fantastic picnic spots. One of my family’s favourites are the Boyce Gardens – a heritage listed garden established between the 1930-1950s. We often visit the many areas of the gardens– the rainforest, the pine forest, marvelling at the roses, native orchids, proteas, ericas… before spreading the picnic rug under the 150 year old strangler fig.

3. Heritage Homes

No visit to Toowoomba is complete without seeing some of the stately homes that grace the city. These are some of my favourites but why not visit them all and decide for yourself?

My all-time favourite is Ascot House – one of the largest and most elaborate of all the grand Toowoomba residences. Built around the 1870s, Ascot was a single story timber residence set on 32 acres. The grounds now cover just 2 acres but the house also has a tearoom and museum.

The Grange has over 120 years of timeless elegance, so no wonder this home is a favourite for many. The traditional early colonial design includes wide verandahs, pressed metal ceilings, VJ walls, cedar doors and fireplaces.

Bishop's House was designed by the architect Henry Marks. Henry was well known for his inventions– see his pot-bellied ventilation flues and chimney shafts, windows and a walling system in this 1911 residence.

If you love old buildings then the Toowoomba Railway Station is not to be missed. Built in 1874, it was the centre of trade in Toowoomba for many years, welcoming many governors and royalty. Now the station is home to the Inbound Brasserie.

There are so many other majestic buildings to see while you are in town: the Empire Theatre, City Hall, Vacy Hall, St Luke’s Church… the list keeps going!

Toowoomba Railway Station, Qld - 1908 courtesy Aussie~mobs

4. The Bunya Mountains National Park

Need time to unwind away from the distraction of mobile devices? Then consider a picturesque 90 minute drive to the Bunya Mountains. The breathtaking views, native wildlife, and brilliantly coloured parrots make the Bunya Mountains an ideal destination for locals and tourists alike. Be dwarfed by towering bunya pines, stretching 25 metres high and listen to trickling waterfalls. I like nothing better than hiking one of the many walking tracks before relaxing at the Poppies Café with pancakes and bunya nut ice cream. Make sure you have time on your leisurely drive home to visit the historic Jondaryan Woolshed.

Interior of wool shed, Jondaryan, 2 November 1894 courtesy Queensland State Archives

5. Jondaryan Woolshed

The Woolshed lets you step back in time to the pioneering days of the 1850s. Take a self-guided tour through the historic woolshed and the original buildings in the museum grounds, watch the Machinery demonstrations and even pat the Clydesdale horses. The 90 metre shearing shed built in 1859 used 5000 sheets of the newly developed corrugated, galvanised iron and was boasted as ‘the finest in the colony’. A visit to the Woolshed is never complete though, without enjoying traditional damper and treacle, or perhaps the Ploughman’s Lunch. Why not immerse yourself in the rural experience by staying the night in one of the cabins – Wyona Cottage, Wainui Cottage or even a room in the Authentic Shearer’s Quarters?

As you can see you will need to stay a while to enjoy all Toowoomba and the Darling Downs has to offer…

Make a compelling case to your organisation to fund your trip to ASCILITE in Toowoomba this year - get a paper on the program! Check out the call for participation now!