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. 


goolman lookout / rocky knoll

With a slightly cool change in weather this morning I decided to take an early hike to Goolman Lookout. This hike is part of the same conservation estate as Flinders Peak but leaves from a different picnic area known as Hardings Paddock.

The hike to Goolman Lookout was pleasant and not at all difficult. The trail was wide and accessible, with some steep sections but no climbing or scrambling required.

I walked back via the ‘Rocky Knoll’ Lookout which, true to its name, was a rocky knoll which you can only access by climbing over a barbed-wire fence 😳

mt blaine

I’m taking this week off work to unwind, unplug and recharge. I’ve decided not to go anywhere per se, but rather stay in Brisbane and just do some really enjoyable things.

My new favourite thing is climbing mountains so this morning just after breakfast I headed south to hike to the top of Mount Blaine: a mountain on the  Northern side of Flinder’s Plum and that offers fantastic 360 degree views of South East Queensland and some of the best views of Flinder’s Peak around.

Whilst it was a short hike – about 4.5km return – the trail to be summit was very steep and very rocky so there was plenty of rock scrambling happening.

The summit was pretty amazing – quite a few butterflies and lots of large prickly pear cacti which were all in bloom and covered in bees. Beautiful.

There was a small rock cairn on top (this isn’t a very popular mountain – I saw no one else the whole time and the track is slightly overgrown) and I was happy to add a rock to the cairn as I always do at a summit.

I was originally planning to take another path down but couldn’t find any track markers so I ended up returning the way I came up. Coming down was harder than coming up since the rocks were easy to dislodge so I had to be very careful not to slip which I still ended up doing a few times. I imagine hiking with others this could be rather dangerous with loose rocks rolling down the mountain.

All in all this was a very enjoyable hike that I’d happily repeat if I was looking for a hike that doesn’t take up an entire day but still offers inspiring views and a challenging scramble.

fort lytton (brisbane open house)

As part of the Brisbane Open House Festival last weekend I took the boys to Fort Lytton: Queensland’s foremost military exhibit, with extensive buildings and fortifications, a large museum and regular military re-enactments. We got to see a few large guns (cannons) being fired which was very cool if not slightly noisy 🙉

The boys loved it! It’s regularly open on Sundays with an entry fee as it’s a National Park.

can’t touch this

As the parent of three small children, what really bothers me is art that looks like it has been designed to be touched/climbed/played upon, but is covered in “do not touch/climb” signs. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for being careful and caring for things, but blatantly banning touching/climbing on something that is clearly designed that way is just plain cruel to kids.

please do not climb

non climable?

mt coot-tha botanical gardens: flowering succulents

I rode my bike last weekend to Mount Coot-tha to visit the Botanical Gardens. The great thing about this time of year, in addition to the clear skies, is that a lot of succulents flower in winter. I really like the aloes in flower at the moment, and the garden was full of wildlife feasting on the aloe flowers, including some rainbow lorikeets I managed to get fairly close to.


world aridland gardens at roma street parklands

I went for a crazy 17 kilometer walk around Brisbane on Saturday. My favourite part was getting to explore the Roma Street Parklands. I had never really spent much time there, and I was delighted to discover the World Aridland Gardens: a collection of succulents from around the world! I couldn’t believe that they had flowering crassula gollum/hobbit (coral shaped jade plants). Wow. I have never seen one flower before. Amazing.

morning fog

There was an amazing fog in Brisbane this morning. It was really spectacular crossing the bridge as I walked to work: enough to warrant a temporary stop to take a quick snap with my phone. I think the photo came out well.


where we eat

After much encouragement from Kitty, some regular readers and friends, I have decided to let Juiced Pixels live a bit longer.

I thought I would resurrect it by writing about our current places we regularly eat. Our criteria is pretty straightforward: fresh, reasonably priced simple yet tasty food with no fuss.

1) Makanan Indonesia @ West End: a authentic Indonesian restaurant located in the strip of restaurants in Hardgrave Road. I love the Satay Set, and Kitty loves the Nasi Goreng and Fish pieces.

2) My Thai Kitchen in Milton: this is the more casual sister outlet of the popular My Thai Restaurant. Fast, fresh Thai food with excellent flavours. We usually get takeaway as they only have a few tables with paper plates.

3) Guzman Y Gomez in the Valley: it’s become our Sunday afternoon tradition to go to GYG in the Emporium for fresh tasting Mexican food. I usually have a steak burrito, Junior Pixels has a ‘little guy burrito’ of his own, and Kitty usually has a vegetarian Nachos. Yum!

4) Swamp Dog @ South Brisbane: just down the road recently opened a new fish n chips store with a difference. They only sell sustainably sourced seafood, and offer free homemade lemonade. We usually go for whatever fish is fresh and tasty, with an Asian salad.

5) Brown Dog Cafe @ The Gabba: Not where you’d expect to find a great breakfast, but we often frequent here on weekends for brekkie. Despite being located directly opposite a brothel, it’s a great little place for scrambled eggs on toast and tea. Kitty loves the pineapple and mint frappes.




fat freddys drop @ the tivoli 27 may 2011

We went to see Fat Freddy’s Drop tonight at the Tivoli in Brisbane. It was one of two Australian shows this month, so we felt pretty special to see them live again. We had choice spot on the upper right balcony which meant the view was especially awesome.

Their new material was especially enjoyable, I look forward to their new album later this year.

michael connelly at qut, brisbane

I went to see a public question and answer session with Michael Connelly tonight at QUT Kelvin Grove campus. He’s the author of many crime novels including the Lincoln Lawyer which was recently made into a feature film, and the Harry Bosch series featuring an eccentric LA detective I have gotten to know and love.

I really enjoyed his latest Mickey Haller novel: ‘The Fifth Witness’, and find it especially interesting that he writes courtroom fiction so well having never been a lawyer.

gotan project at the brisbane powerhouse

We were lucky enough to get our hands on some great tickets to see the Gotan Project at the Brisbane Powerhouse last Saturday night. Wow; what a show. We didn’t really know what to expect, but it was a mish-mash of beats, a large video screen, various instrumentals and superb Argentinian vocals. Absolutely amazing, absolutely spectacular. Wow.

suitcase rummage brisbane

We took Junior Pixels (who recently turned one!) for a walk to the city today, and stumbled across hipsters selling wares out of suitcases in Brisbane Square.

From the Suitcase Rummage site:

It’s a simple idea. Fill your suitcase with your wares, and travel to our designated spot on the day. Sell your wonderful goods old style. No hassle. No fuss. Good ol’ fashion markets.

It was a really cool idea, and was suitably popular. We saw some cool stuff being sold by some cool people.

It’s on the first Sunday of every month in Brisbane square, so next month you should check it out!


the memory machine

Julia Stone recently released her first solo album: the memory machine. The album booklet features beautifully drawn, old skool Hollywood poster styled images for each track drawn by Caroline Pedler. I recognize a couple of the songs from when we heard her play in Brisbane a month ago.