TOOWOOMBA and its Surrounds
Toowoomba (nicknamed 'The Garden City') is a city in the Darling Downs region in the Australian state of Queensland. It is located 125 km (78 mi) west of Queensland's capital city Brisbane by road. The estimated urban population of Toowoomba as of June 2015 was 114,622. A university and cathedral city, it hosts the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers each September and national championship events for the sports of mountain biking and motocross. There are more than 150 public parks and gardens in Toowoomba. It has developed into a regional centre for business and government services. It is also referred to as the capital of the Darling Downs.
It is the 16th-largest city in Australia and the sixth-largest in Queensland after Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Cairns. Toowoomba is the most populous inland city in the country after the national capital of Canberra.
Main Street of Toowoomba in 1897.
Toowoomba's colonial history traces back to 1816 when English botanist and explorer Allan Cunningham arrived in Australia from Brazil and in June 1827 discovered 4 million acres (16,000 km²) of rich farming and grazing land, which became known as the Darling Downs, bordered on the east by the Great Dividing Range and situated 100 miles (160 km) west of the settlement of Moreton Bay. Thirteen years later when George and Patrick Leslie established Toolburra Station 56 miles (90 km) south-west of Toowoomba the first settlers arrived on the Downs and established a township of bark-slab shops called The Springs which was soon renamed Drayton. Land for the town was first surveyed in 1849, then again in 1853.
Towards the end of the 1840s Drayton had grown to the point where it had its own newspaper, general store, trading post and the Royal Bull's Head Inn, which was built by William Horton and still stands today. Horton is regarded as the true founder of Toowoomba, despite the fact that he was not the first man to live there. Drovers and wagon masters spread the news of the new settlement at Toowoomba. By 1858 Toowoomba was growing fast. It had a population of 700, three hotels and many stores. Land selling at £4 an acre (£988/km²) in 1850 was now £150 an acre (£37,000/km²). Governor Bowen granted the wish of locals and a new municipality was proclaimed on 24 November 1860.
The first town council election took place on 4 January 1861 and William Henry Groom won. The railway from Ipswich was opened in 1867, bringing with it business development. In 1892, the Under Secretary of Public Land proclaimed Toowoomba and the surrounding areas as a township and in 1904 Toowoomba was declared a city. Pastoralism replaced agriculture and dairying by the 1900s.
Toowoomba was named as Australia's Tidiest Town in 2008.
A panorama of Toowoomba looking south-west from Mount Lofty
Toowoomba is situated on the crest of the Great Dividing Range, around 700 metres (2,300 ft) above sea level. A few streets are on the eastern side of the edge of the range, but most of the city is west of the divide.
The city occupies the edge of the range and the low ridges behind it. Two valleys run north from the southern boundary, each arising from springs either side of Middle Ridge near Spring Street at an altitude of around 680 m. These waterways, East Creek and West Creek, flow together just north of the CBD to form Gowrie Creek.
Gowrie Creek drains to the west across the Darling Downs and is a tributary of the Condamine River, part of the Murray–Darling basin. The water flowing down Gowrie Creek makes its way some 3,000 km (1,900 mi) to the mouth of the Murray River near Adelaide in South Australia. Rain which falls on the easternmost streets of Toowoomba flows east to Moreton Bay a distance of around 170 km (110 mi).
The rich volcanic soil in the region helps maintain the 150 public parks that are scattered across the city. Jacaranda, camphor laurel and plane trees line many of the city streets. The city's reputation as 'The Garden City' is highlighted during the Australian Carnival of Flowers festival held in September each year. Deciduous trees from around the world line many of the parks, giving a display of autumn colour.
The City of Toowoomba included the following settlements:
Blue Mountain Heights1
Prince Henry Heights
Toowoomba City (the city centre)
1 - split with the former Shire of Crows Nest
2 - split with the former Shire of Jondaryan
Toowoomba has a warm temperate climate with mild summers and mild winters. Compared to other parts of Queensland, Toowoomba experiences more frequent high winds, hail and fog and is considered cooler than many other towns and cities in Queensland.
Daily maximum temperatures in Toowoomba average 28 °C (82 °F) in summer and 17 °C (63 °F) in winter. Unlike most of inland Queensland, summer temperatures above 35 °C (95 °F) are uncommon, whilst winter days rarely warm above 20 °C (68 °F). Winter nights seldom drop below freezing; however in a situation unique among Queensland cities, snow has been reported on the higher parts of the city on several occasions. Light frost will be experienced several nights each winter in the city center, more often in the western suburbs. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the highest temperature ever recorded in Toowoomba was 40.8 °C (105.4 °F) on 12 February 2017, while the lowest was −4.4 °C (24.1 °F) on 12 July 1965.
Average annual rainfall, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, is 724 millimetres (28.5 in). Rainfall in the eastern suburbs along the Great Dividing Range nudges 1,000 mm (39 in) per year. The majority of Toowoombas rain falls from November to March, with January and February being the peak rainy months. Like most of south-east Queensland, severe thunderstorms can be a threat and Toowoomba may occasionally be affected by ex-tropical cyclones.
[hide]Climate data for Toowoomba (Toowoomba Airport, 1996-2017)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 39.5
Average high °C (°F) 28.1
Average low °C (°F) 17.5
Record low °C (°F) 12.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 98.6
Average precipitation days 11.0 10.6 9.9 8.1 8.6 9.8 7.1 6.6 7.2 8.0 9.9 10.9 107.7
Source: Bureau of Meteorology
On 10 January 2011, Toowoomba suffered a catastrophic flash flood. Unusually heavy rainfall had occurred in the preceding days, causing the city's waterways to become swollen. Around midday, an intense storm moved in from the northeast, completely overwhelming East Creek and West Creek which run through the CBD. 149.6 mm fell in one day with rainfall peaking at 144 mm/h over one 10-minute interval.
The flood caused damage to properties and infrastructure, and resulted in the deaths of 2 people in Toowoomba.
Architecture and heritage
Main article: List of sites on the Queensland Heritage Register in Toowoomba
St. James Church of England during construction in 1869
New and old buildings in Ruthven Street, Toowoomba CBD
Toowoomba's history has been preserved in its buildings. Examples of architecture drawing from the city's wealthy beginnings include Toowoomba City Hall which was Queensland's first purpose-built town hall, the National Trust Royal Bull's Head Inn and many examples in the heritage-listed Russell Street. Immediately to the east of the CBD is the Caledonian Estate, an area of turn-of-the-20th-century housing, ranging from humble workers cottages to large stately homes, in the classic wooden Queenslander style.
Toowoomba is also home to the Empire Theatre, which was originally opened in June 1911, as a silent movie house. In February 1933, fire broke out, almost completely destroying the building. However, the Empire was rebuilt and reopened in November 1933. The architectural styling of the new Empire Theatre was art deco, in keeping with the trend of the 1930s. After years of neglect, the Empire Theatre was extensively renovated in the late 1990s, but retains much of its art deco architecture and decorations, especially the proscenium arch. Able to seat approximately 1,500 people, the Empire Theatre is now the largest regional theatre in Australia.
The city also is home to the Cobb & Co Museum, hailing to the famous mail company's beginnings as a small mail run in the 1800s to transport mail and passengers to Brisbane and beyond. It also houses Australia's largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles. The museum has undergone a A$8 million redevelopment before reopening in September 2010.
Main article: List of heritage sites in Toowoomba, Queensland
Toowoomba has many heritage-listed sites, with over fifty on the Queensland Heritage Register in addition to listings on other local heritage registers.
Main article: Politics of Toowoomba, Queensland
Toowoomba is located in and is the seat of the Toowoomba Region local government area. The city is represented in the Parliament of Queensland by three seats: Toowoomba North, Toowoomba South and Condamine. In the Commonwealth Parliament, Toowoomba forms part of the Division of Groom, which is held by John McVeigh for the Liberal National Party of Queensland.
The current Mayor of Toowoomba is Mayor Paul Antonio.
See also: List of Mayors of Toowoomba
The Australian Defence Force is also present in the local community, with the city providing housing and amenities for many of the personnel based at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre (in Oakey, 29 km (18 mi) NW of Toowoomba) and Borneo Barracks at Cabarlah to the city's North. The headquarters of Heritage Bank, which is Australia's largest mutual bank, FK Gardners and Wagners are located in Toowoomba.
Economic growth potential in the region has been identified through retail, construction and the development of energy resources found in the Surat Basin and in food processing. As well as the development of the newly built Wellcamp Airport, the under construction, Second Range Crossing and proposed Inland Rail the city is set to become one the largest logistical centres in the country as well as a major inland port.
The city is also home to an emerging startup ecosystem, centred on the Canvas Coworking space, which launched in June 2015.
Toowoomba is a major education centre.
Darling Heights State School
Drayton State School is the oldest school in Toowoomba.
Fairview Heights State School
Gabbinbar State School
Glenvale State School
Harlaxton State School
Harristown State Primary School
Middle Ridge State School
Newtown State School
Rangeville State School
Rockville State School
Toowoomba East State School
Toowoomba North State School
Toowoomba South State School is the oldest school in Toowoomba proper.
Wilsonton State School
Christian Outreach College Toowoomba
Concordia Lutheran College (2 campuses)
Darling Downs Christian School
The Glennie School
Glenvale Christian School
Holy Name Catholic Primary School
Our Lady of Lourdes School
Sacred Heart School
St Anthony's Primary School Toowoomba
St Thomas More's School
Toowoomba Anglican College and Preparatory School
Toowoomba Christian College
Centenary Heights State High School
Toowoomba Flexi School (annexe of Centenary Heights State High School)
Clifford Park Special School
Harristown State High School
Toowoomba State High School
Wilsonton State High School
Christian Outreach College Christian co-educational school.
Darling Downs Christian School
Downlands College independent Catholic Co-educational Day and Boarding school
Fairholme College a Presbyterian Church of Queensland school.
The Glennie School- Anglican day and boarding school
St Joseph's College
St. Mary's College
St Saviour's, Toowoomba's oldest Catholic school
St Ursula's College Independent Catholic day and boarding school for girls
Toowoomba Anglican College and Preparatory School
Toowoomba Christian College
Toowoomba Grammar School, independent grammar school (est.1875).
Mary Mackillop Secondary College- forms part of the existing primary campus in Highfields, opening in 2016
University of Southern Queensland
TAFE Queensland South West (Formerly SQIT) has extensive campuses to the east of the CBD.
University of Queensland has a small centre in Toowoomba.
Griffith University has a small health training facility in Toowoomba.
The annual Flower Festival is a chance to show off Toowoomba's parks and gardens at their best
The Alfred Thomas Memorial in Queens Park during the Carnival of Flowers
Toowoomba is nationally renowned for the annual Carnival of Flowers, held each year in September. Many of the city's major parks and gardens are especially prepared for the carnival, including an important home garden competition and parade of flower floats. Buses bring people from around the nation, and a popular way to arrive at the carnival from Brisbane is on chartered antique steam and diesel trains, which captures the yester-year aspect of travel to Toowoomba with 19th-century wooden carriages.
In 1953 the Carnival of Flowers was the subject of a sponsored film produced by the Queensland Minister for Lands and Irrigation. The Carnival of Flowers depicts the floral parade, the home gardens competition and the crowning of the Floral Queen and is a wonderful portrait of life in 1950s Queensland.
Toowoomba was previously home to Easterfest (which was held annually over the Easter weekend.) The event has not continued after 2015.
Toowoomba is well served by a selection of restaurants, cafés and eateries throughout the city. Toowoomba also is home to the Weis Bar and possibly the Lamington. The urban laneway cafe trend of Melbourne, is also growing increasing popular in the city with the opening of laneway cafe's such as GroundUp Espresso and Bunker Records.
Rugby league is a popular sport in Toowoomba. A team representing Toowoomba used to compete in the Bulimba Cup tournament. Toowoomba currently does not host a team in any of the major national competitions but was home to the Toowoomba Clydesdales in the Queensland Cup state league. The Clydesdales were the feeder team for Brisbane Broncos in the National Rugby League (NRL) from 1999 to 2006. The Clysedales dropped out of the Queensland Cup after the 2006 season due to financial difficulties and are no longer a feeder club for the Brisbane Broncos.
Towoomba features a semi-professional football club, South West Queensland Thunder, that has a large following within the community.
Australian rules football is played by four senior teams in the AFL Darling Downs competition: Coolaroo, Toowoomba Tigers, University of Southern Queensland and South Toowoomba. The sport has gained popularity amongst juniors with eleven clubs in the region. The four Senior Toowoomba clubs compete with five other clubs in towns such as Dalby, Gatton, Goondiwindi, Highfields and Warwick. In 2006, Brad Howard became the first draftee from Toowoomba to the Australian Football League.
Toowoomba has clubs for other sports including cricket (Toowoomba Cricket Inc), archery, swimming, tennis, softball, baseball, netball (Toowoomba Netball Association), hockey (Toowoomba Hockey Association), gridiron (Chargers) and basketball (Toowoomba Basketball Association). The city is also home to the Toowoomba Mountaineers basketball team, which participates in the Queensland Basketball League (QBL).
Toowoomba also shares two prestigious golf courses; Toowoomba Golf Club Middle Ridge, and City Golf Club Toowoomba. These two clubs, as well as several other clubs in the district, conduct an annual Pennant season. Each club take on each other in Match play and in several different divisions to be crowned the Pennant winners of the Year. City Golf Club also hosted the Queensland PGA Championships from 2009 to 2013.
Sport at both junior and senior level in Toowoomba and surrounding areas is promoted by Sports Darling Downs, a non-profit organisation based in Toowoomba.
Toowoomba is home to Clifford Park Racecourse. Clifford Park Racecourse was acquired as a 160-acre (0.65 km2) block in 1861.
The Toowoomba Turf Club was formed in 1882 and the first recorded Toowoomba Cup was run in 1919. In 1992, the club made Australian racing history by staging the first race ever run under electric lights: the Fosters Toowoomba Cup, which was won by Waigani Drive. In 1996 the club staged the first night race meeting in Australia.
Toowoomba has a number of rugby union teams, including University of Southern Queensland Rugby Union Club, Toowoomba Rangers Rugby Union Club, Toowoomba City Rugby Club, which compete in the Regional Rugby Union competition, against such teams as the Roma Echidnas, the Condamine Cods, the Dalby Wheatmen, the Goondiwindi Emus, the Warwick Water Rats and the University of Queensland Rugby Union Club (Gatton Campus).
Cycling is a popular sport in Toowoomba. The Tour of Toowoomba in 2010 became a round of the Subaru National Road Series and attracted 15 teams. A proposal to stage a National Road Series event in Toowoomba was first presented to the Toowoomba Cycling Club in late 2009 by John Osborne OAM, a lifelong cycling enthusiast. The inaugural FKG Tour of Toowoomba was won by Patrick Shaw riding for the Virgin Blue RBS Morgan team. Patrick was later named Cycling Australia's Road Cyclist of the Year – 2010.
The Darling Downs Gazette (June 1858 to October 1922)
The Chronicle (since July 1861)
The Coffee Gazette (since October 2014)
Darling Downs Star (July 1955 to September 2003)
Toowoomba's Mail (since September 2003)
Toowoomba Telegraph (October 2012 to July 2013)
Toowoomba is serviced by three commercial national network stations and two national non-commercial network stations. These are Seven Queensland, Nine, WIN Television, ABC TV (ABC1) and SBS TV (SBS ONE). Each broadcasts television services in digital format, with analogue transmissions deactivated on 6 December 2011.
Of the three main commercial networks, Seven Queensland and WIN Television broadcast half-hour local news bulletins at 6pm each weeknight, both produced from local newsrooms but broadcast from studios in Maroochydore. Southern Cross Austereo has offices in the city with short local news updates airing on Channel 9 throughout the day, presented from studios in Canberra.
Brisbane metropolitan commercial channels BTQ-7 (Seven Network), QTQ-9 (Nine Network) and TVQ-10 (Network Ten) broadcasting from transmission towers at Mount Coot-tha can also be received in some parts of Toowoomba.
There is a suburban bus service operated by Bus Queensland Toowoomba (who took over from Garden City Sunbus) throughout the city. This is a QConnect service which is a regional urban public transport system modelled on the metropolitan TransLink service. Stonestreets Coaches operate many school services in the city.
There are frequent inter-city bus services between Toowoomba and Brisbane, and other centres operated by Greyhound Australia and Murrays. Toowoomba was the headquarters for McCafferty's Coaches that operated a national long distance coach network until its sale to Greyhound Australia in 2004.
Toowoomba is not included in TransLink, the Southeast Queensland integrated public transport system. However the Translink service is accessible to the region via the 539 Railbus travelling from (and to) Helidon on the city's eastern outskirts in the Lockyer Valley, approximately a 15-minute drive from the Toowoomba CBD.
Toowoomba station has a twice-weekly rail service from Brisbane to Charleville and return on Queensland Rail's The Westlander. Toowoomba is criss-crossed by several railway lines that are largely unused, or used for freight, and idle railway stations can be found in the suburbs (including Ballard, Drayton, Harlaxton and Harristown), dating to when these localities were separate centres.
Toowoomba is served by Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, which is serviced by QantasLink, Airnorth and Regional Express Airlines, with flights to Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns and Townsville and destinations west of the city, but there is potential for services to Mackay and overseas.
Toowoomba City Aerodrome is located in Toowoomba's outer suburbs. The city's former airport is now primarily used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, LifeFlight and the Darling Downs Aero Club.
Toowoomba is serviced by four hospitals: Toowoomba Base Hospital, which is a public hospital and one of the largest hospitals in regional Australia; a specialist psychiatric hospital called Baillie Henderson Hospital; and two private hospitals: St. Andrew's Toowoomba Hospital and St. Vincents Hospital. There is also the Toowoomba Hospice which is a community based private healthcare facility which provides palliative care to the terminally ill.
Toowoomba's third water storage Cressbrook Dam was completed in 1983 and supplied water to Toowoomba in 1988. It has a full capacity of about 80,000 megalitres bringing total capacity of the three dams, Cooby, Perseverance, and Cressbrook, to 126,000 megalitres. The city also has underground supplies in fractured basalt of the rock unit known as the Main Range Volcanics. Toowoomba also sits above the eastern edge of the Great Artesian Basin and to the west underground water is available beneath unconsolidated alluvium.
Rainfall during the period from 1998 to 2005 was 30% below the long term average, consistent with a prolonged drought; with this trend continuing through to the spring of 2007. In mid-2005, the water situation for the city was becoming critical with water supply levels below 30%. Environmental flows from Cressbrook Dam into Cressbrook Creek were allowed to cease as Toowoomba approached level five water restrictions. During March 2006 the surface water storage in the dams fell below 25% of full capacity, falling further to 12.8% on 10 March 2008 and reaching an all-time low of 7.7% in December 2009.
The former Toowoomba Mayor Dianne Thorley proposed a controversial potable re-use project under the Toowoomba Water Futures plan which would result in water reclaimed from the Wetalla Sewage Treatment Plant being returned to Cooby Dam to provide 25% of the potable water supply for Toowoomba. Other water supply options include importing water from Oakey Creek Groundwater Management Area (average TDS = 1660 mg/L), importing water from Condamine Groundwater Management Area (Average TDS = 740 mg/L), and water from coal seam gas production (TDS = 1200–4300 mg/L).
Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of York, with Mayor James Douglas Annand in Toowoomba, 1927.
On 29 July 2006, Toowoomba City Council conducted a poll of Toowoomba residents on the proposal to use this multi-barrier filtration system for filtering sewage for drinking purposes. The poll question was: "Do you support the addition of purified recycled water to Toowoomba's water supply via Cooby Dam as proposed by Water Futures – Toowoomba?" 38% of voters supported the proposal and 62% opposed. This meant that despite dams reaching critical levels, the city rejected the use of recycled water in a plebiscite. Since the public rejection in 2006 of adding recycled sewage to the drinking water supply, water conservation measures have included harvesting stormwater for use in public parks and adding filtered groundwater to the town water supply.The city was under level 5 water restrictions as of 26 September 2006. This prohibits residents from using town water on their lawns, gardens or cars, and residents are strongly urged to cut down on water consumption.
In 2007, the Toowoomba City Council commenced a bore drilling program to augment the dwindling dam supplies and constructed several subartesian bores across the city and one artesian bore at Wetalla in the city's north. Many of the subartesian bores provided potable water with a reliable yield and have been developed into production however the artesian bore's water quality was very poor, prohibiting development as a potable source. This was an expensive setback for the city as the cost was over A$2 million for drilling to over 700 metres. In January 2008, yield testing had been stalled due to the unavailability of appropriate pumping equipment. The Toowoomba Regional Council began supplementing the city's water supply with bore water from the Great Artesian Basin in September 2009. Groundwater has become a significant contributor to the city's water supply needs and now constitutes one third of the total volume of water treated for reticulated supply (160 ML per week).
The state government has built a $187 million pipeline from Wivenhoe Dam to Toowoomba. Water pumping along the 38 kilometres (24 mi) pipeline to Cressbrook Dam began in January 2010.
Main article: List of people from Toowoomba
At the 2011 census, the Urban Centre of Toowoomba recorded a population of 96,567 people. Of these:
Age distribution: Residents had a similar distribution of ages to the country overall. The median age was 36 years, compared to the national median of 37 years. Children aged under 15 years made up 20.5% of the population (national average is 19.3%) and people aged 65 years and over made up 16.1% of the population (national average is 14.0%).
Ethnic diversity : 82.8% were born in Australia, compared to the national average of 70%; the next most common countries of birth were England 2.0%, New Zealand 1.5%, South Africa 0.6%, India 0.6% and Philippines 0.5%. At home, 89.2% of residents only spoke English; the next most common languages spoken at home were Arabic 0.7%, Mandarin 0.5%, Dinka 0.3%, Afrikaans 0.3% and Cantonese 0.2%.
Finances: The median household weekly income was $1,021, compared to the national median of $1,234. This difference is also reflected in real estate, with the median mortgage payment being $1,517 per month, compared to the national median of $1,800.
Housing: The majority (78.7%) of occupied private dwellings were separate houses, 14.0% were flats, units or apartments; and 5.8% were semi-detached (row or terrace houses, townhouses etc.). The average household size was 1.6 people.
Transport: On the day of the Census, 0.8% of employed people travelled to work on public transport, and 76.1% by car (either as driver or as passenger).
Toowoomba has sister city relations with three international cities: Wanganui, New Zealand; Takatsuki, Japan; and Paju, South Korea.
Religion in Toowoomba
All major world religions and Christian denominations are represented in Toowoomba.
The city is regarded as fertile ground for Christian fundamentalist religio-political movements that adhere to biblical literalism, particularly those within the Pentecostal stream of Christianity. This was exemplified by the highly publicised rise and subsequent fall of Howard Carter and the Logos Foundation in the 1980s. The Logos Foundation and other similar movements that have followed it, operate in a controlling, authoritarian and almost cultish manner, contributing to their notoriety. Other similarly conservative Pentecostal churches within the city have, since that time, banded together into a loose federation known as the Toowoomba Christian Leaders' Network. (note - most traditional church denominations have their own, separate ecumenical group) This network, views itself as having a divine mission to 'take the city for the Lord' and as such, endorses elements of religious right-wing political advocacy, such as the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL). ACL's current managing director who was raised in the Logos Foundation and is a former Toowoomba City councilor, is Lyle Shelton. These church groups are strongly associated with North American trends such as the New Apostolic Reformation, Dominion theology, Five-fold ministry thinking, Kingdom Now theology and revivalism. They support theocratic ideals where conservative and literal interpretations of the bible are the dominant drivers of government, education, the Arts, the media and entertainment.
One local church, the Toowoomba Christian Fellowship, has in recent times attracted publicity for the cult-like manner in which it operates. It will possibly become one of the largest mega-churches in Australia.