When you think of taking a weekend road trip to Toowoomba, it’s easy to casually dismiss the idea with a simple thought: ‘But there’s nothing to do out there!’
Well, Brisbane, while we were all busy watching hipster barber shops spring up across town, those sneaky Toowoomba folk were setting up a pretty impressive food scene. Yes, that’s right. Toowoomba has a food scene, and it’s epic.
Hop in the car, drive an hour and a half to two hours west of Brisbane, and you’ll find yourself in the Darling Downs. This area is home to some of Queensland’s best farmland, pumping out tonnes of fresh produce. So it makes sense that crafty cafe-owners and talented chefs have decided it’s time to put all that locally farmed produce to good use.
In the heart of Toowoomba you’ll find Ground Up Espresso Bar, tucked down a lane-way amid bright street-art murals that easily rival any Melbourne hipster-spot, without a skerrick of pretentiousness. In place of all that faff is a big friendly smile, a warm welcome and plenty of good grub to be had. Not only is the food delicious, the coffee and freshly-baked sweet treats are both amazing.
Around the corner you’ll find The Finch, another brilliant little cafe tucked inside a historic building from the 1880s. Boasting its original brick walls, ceiling and timber floor, this super cool space serves up great breakfasts and lunch, including their famous home-made granola. Finish it off with their punchy Fonzie Abbott Espresso blend and you’re in foodie heaven.
The people of Toowoomba have also found themselves in possession of a Korean/Japanese restaurant which pumps out Karaoke, whisky and delicious Korean BBQ food. There’s also one heck of a pizza-place, Artisan Pizza, which serves up insanely good home-made pizzas in another of Toowoomba’s historic buildings. There are pubs producing hearty meals and cold pints and cake and coffee shops galore.
What’s great about all of the restaurants in the area is you can see where your food was grown, as you drive around the surrounding farm lands. You can watch broccoli being harvested, see lettuce on the grow and wander through white fields of cotton. It’s a chance to gain back the appreciation for where the food on your plate comes from and the farmers behind it all.
It seems Toowoomba has undergone a serious revival, creating its own brand of effortlessly cool country charm. Wander around the streets and you’ll find absolutely stunning street-art murals tucked down laneways or taking over the entire sides of big buildings, as part of the First Coat Art and Music Festival. Rather than banishing talented street artists, Toowoomba is giving them parts of the city, allowing them to turn the entire town into an evolving art gallery.
In addition to all this great food, historic architecture and street-art, Toowoomba still boasts those most well-loved essentials of any weekend explorer. There are mountains to hike and scenic views to be enjoyed, there are weekend markets and food festivals to discover and a few great local hotels to base yourself for an amazing foodie escape, close to home.
What are your favourite things to do in Toowoomba? Let us know in the comments below!