a perfect brisbane-toowoomba day trip

Toowoomba is a pretty sweet little city. Despite having a relatively small population (~100,000) it has the vibe of a bigger city.

Another good thing about Toowoomba is its proximity to Brisbane. You can get up there fairly easily in 90 mins on a weekend, which makes it a perfect day trip destination if you set off early.

I set off early yesterday as the sun was rising and began my road trip. I couldn’t help but stop at the abandoned Servo Plus service station at Plainland (cool suburb name) for a few quick snaps.


There’s also a really cool red elephant statue on the same side of the road at Plainland (right near Wet Dreams Aquatics 😳) which is worth checking out as you drive by.

My first destination in Toowoomba was Table Top Mountain. This is a mountain just East of the main range which has a large grassy plateau on top which you can walk around on checking out the views of the surrounding pristine Lockyer Valley. I wanted to get here early before it got too hot, and also to see the rising sun to the East. The climb isn’t for the unfit or faint-hearted but the views are definitely worthwhile.


After admiring the views I made my way into the city to check out some of the Toowoomba street art. There’s a long weekend festival in Toowoomba each year called First Coat where street arts cover buildings around the city in murals. It’s been running since 2014 so there’s already plenty of murals to check out. Any lane in the city is pretty much guaranteed to have a few different murals.


One of the benefits of exploring the laneways in the city is you come across places to eat you wouldn’t otherwise discover. One such place was called Skewers which is an Indonesian street food style restaurant serving skewers grilled over hot coals, and slow cooked rendangs 😍


After wandering the streets and eating some lovely food I decided to start making my way back home.

I’m a huge fan of roadside produce stalls and doing some Googling I discovered that the Lockyer Valley sitting just East of the Great Diving Range has lots of farms, and lots of roadside produce stalls. So I descended from Toowoomba into Flagstone as Flagstone Creek Road has heaps of the roadside stalls. My favourite stall was at Winwill, and during the drive back I managed to pick up two dozen fresh eggs, two pumpkins, spinach, potatoes, a watermelon, two punnets of tomatoes, and three stems of broccoli.  All so fresh and delicious! The fringe benefit of this ‘produce run’ is that the views driving through the valley are top-notch:


It’s been a long but fun day so I make my way home to unload the produce and edit all the photos I’ve taken. Good times. 

 

toowoomba street art

For a city of only 100,000 (ish) people, Toowoomba has some amazing street art. Most of the large scale pieces have been done as part of the First Coat Festival which has been running over a weekend in May since 2014.

There’s even a Fintan Magee mural (the elephant) who is one of my all time favourite street artists.

Toowoomba is only about 90 mins drive from Brisbane so I’d thoroughly recommend checking this out sometime if you’re into street art.

table top mountain, toowoomba

I started my day in Toowoomba by climbing to the plateau of Table Top Mountain.

I can’t believe I hadn’t been up here before: it’s amazing.

The climb up and back down was much quicker, but much harder, than I was expecting. Once you’re at the top there’s a huge grassy plateau to walk around and admire the gorgeous views of the pristine Lockyer Valley around you 😍

There were a number of large prickly pear cacti growing around various parts of the mountain covered in fruit.

I definitely would do this again if I was in the Toowoomba area.

Elevation: 596m (206m gain)
Time up: 19m
Time down: 18m

the gutter is within

“I have a friend so beautiful, so haunted by talent that you can barely look away from her, whose smile is such a treasure that I have often squandered my sanity for a moment in its glow. Her story is so galling that no one would condemn her for her dependency on illegal anesthesia, but now, even though her life is trying to turn around despite her, even though she has genuine opportunities for a new start, the gutter will not release its prey. The gutter is within. It is frustrating to watch.”

~ Russell Brand on Heroin Addiction

one good thing

I’ve found that focusing on having one good thing of each thing makes me happier and my life easier, plus it’s better for the environment.

Take a pen for example. It’s easy to have lots of various, cheap, disposable pens lying around and be constantly losing/finding them as you don’t really care about them as you’ve just picked them up at a conference and can easily get more.

But imagine if you had just one good pen. You’ll notice how suddenly you care about that pen. You won’t lose it as it’s your only pen, and it’ll be much more pleasant to have a good pen that you know will always work for you and is nice to write with.

The same applies to other things in your life:

  • one good pair of shoes for walking;
  • one good pair of sunglasses for seeing;
  • one good razor for shaving;
  • one good suitcase for travelling; and
  • one good teapot for brewing.

It’s all too easy to continue to accumulate cheap, disposable crap in this day and age, and it can be sometimes hard to justify $30 or $50 on a pen (when you buy a box of cheap biros for a few dollars), but it’s definitely better in the long run 😊

mt edwards

I woke up before 5am on Saturday morning and drove (1h:10m) to Mt Edwards which is part of Moogerah Peaks National Park (next to Lake Moogerah) to hike to the summit. The hike up wasn’t all that interesting (besides walking over the dam wall at the start) or challenging (just a constant 3km ascent) but the views at the top were 💯 as you are right at the top of a very steep cliff-face.

Elevation: 634m (520m gain)
Time up: 1h:04m
Time down: 54m

 

wellington

I spent the last few days in Wellington representing my company as a sponsor at a web conference. Whilst my daily schedule was jam-packed, fortunately Wellington is very small so I still was able to squeeze in some local exploring and taking some snaps in any opportunity I could.

The botanic gardens had a small collection of cacti and succulents (despite the cold weather), and there was a fair bit of street art, especially around the Cuba Street precinct which reminded me a lot of Fitzroy in Melbourne.

king of animal traps 

I recently watched the story of how Penn Jilette came to be one half of Penn & Teller through his obsession with collecting and studying animal traps:

“I showed my classmates my skill, they were impressed. But not impressed enough that I felt I could make it my whole career. 

So I broadened my horizons and I diluted my goals. 

And that’s how I got to be half of Penn & Teller.”

toastmasters

I have recently started attending and have already signed up to join a local Toastmasters club. My first impressions have been overwhelmingly positive: a community of people who have all taken the step to make themselves better at speaking and being confident. 

The thing I love about the club is the diversity of talent: members range from newbies like me to Distiguished Toast Masters (DTMs) who decades of regular public speaking experience, and there’s no agenda except for personal improvement. 

One of the DTMs gave a short speech last week about how Toastmasters changed his life. This really stuck with me. He explained that Toastmasters had given him the ability to speak clearly about anything when he felt like he needed to speak, not just to be able to speak all the time. This is awesome and something I am striving towards myself. 

rooster year is bad for roosters

“According to Chinese astrology, people in their zodiac year are believed to offend Tai Sui, the God of Age, and incur his curse. It is believed to bring nothing but bad luck. Therefore Chinese astrology followers pay special attention to their conduct every twelfth year of their lives, i.e. in their birth sign years.”

source

I was born in 1981 which is the Chinese Year of the Rooster and 2017 is also the Chinese Year of the Rooster. Luckily I found out from a friend about the curse of Tai Sui and I took some precautions before the lunar year began last week:

  • My standing desk in my home office has been rotated 180° to face due East (facing away from Tai Sui in the West);
  • Kitty gave me some bright red underwear; and
  • Kitty also gave me a jade rooster which I carry around in my pocket.

Here’s hoping these precautions are enough to fend off Tai Sui, only time will tell.

→ embracing the mundane

“It wasn’t until I committed to traveling a journey of intentional self growth that I discovered where life is really lived—in the mundane. Life is lived in those in-between moments we often hurry past. It’s in the car rides to school, standing in the grocery line with your son, reading to your kids before bed time, or clearing off the dinner table as a family.”

Eric Ungs ~ 5 Simple Ways to Live an Abundant Life through Self Simplicity

Becoming Minimalist is one of the few sites I follow on Facebook and I’m always interested to read their articles.

I also really love the article The Completely Achievable Path to Becoming a One-Income Family.

my perfect day 

Kitty asks…

“Describe your perfect day”

I overthought this one for too long. It’s actually easy. I simply stole this idea from Alain de Botton:

“when life’s knocked you around a bit and when you’ve seen a few things, and time has happened and you’ve got some years under your belt, you start to think more highly of modest things like flowers and a pretty sky, or just a morning where nothing’s wrong and everyone’s been pretty nice to each other.”

My perfect day would be one where nothing goes terribly wrong and everyone in my family has been pretty nice to each other. 

My question for K:

“Would you say your best days are before you or behind you and why?”

three choices

So here I was thinking that there were only two choices in any tough situation in life:

A) change it (fight)
B) leave it (flight)

But there’s actually three:

  1. change it
  2. leave it
  3. accept it (change yourself)

Having number 3 up your sleeve is a handy trick for the occasional tough situation but I’d advise against using it too often as it has been known to lead to complacency.