A local’s guide: everything to see, eat and do in Toowoomba

Whatever your fancy, this picturesque mountain city has plenty to see and do – from boutique wineries and spectacular lookout points to antique stores and art galleries. Shana Rogers from The Jondaryan Woolshed reveals her favourite spots to embrace la dolce vita in Toowoomba.

Can’t-beat-it breakfast

The Engine Room Café, near the old railway station, is my go-to place for brekkie any day of the week. The coffee is always great and you’ll have serious food envy if you don’t try the newest addition to the menu (and my personal favourite) – sautéed spinach and mushrooms, salsa verde and grilled haloumi on toasted fig and pistachio spelt toast. Yum! The kids love the buttermilk pancakes too.

Best coffee

I’m a self-confessed caffeine addict so for coffee that never disappoints (Merlo) I always head to my favourite deli, Wendland Fine Foods. You know you visit far too often when they start making your coffee as you walk in the door!

Favourite restaurant

Gip’s Restaurant in Russell Street, opposite the beautiful Vacy Hall Historic Guesthouse ticks all the boxes for me. A recent lunch of the duck tasting platter was lovely and the tapas are perfect for sharing. Dinner never disappoints – I enjoy the fact that there are not too many choices, and every dish I have tried has been superb. I also love that Gip’s offers local Granite Belt wine – my favourite is the Robert Channon Verdelho.

Top spot for a tipple

Preston Peak Wines is only ten minutes south of Toowoomba and the cellar door looks out over the Lockyer Valley. We love to do some wine tasting and choose a bottle to share with an antipasto platter. It’s great for the kids too with a playground and giant chess set. My pick? The 2006 Serisier Pinot Noir Chardonnay (Methode Champenoise). Cheers!

Best activity for under $50

Woolshed at Jondaryan

For only $38 for a family, take a trip to the historic Woolshed at Jondaryan, 40 kilometres west of Toowoomba. Everyone loves the animal nursery, sheep shearing demonstrations, guided history tour and machinery section. It’s a perfect spot to bring overseas visitors for an authentic Aussie experience. The fresh damper with syrup is a must.

Favourite way to spend a Sunday

The Chocolate Cottage and Cafe

Start a lazy Sunday with breakfast at The Chocolate Cottage and Cafe at Highfields (only 10 minutes from town). There are lovely shops across the road and then you can head north to Danish Flower Art and on to the Black Forest Cuckoo Clock Centre. Lunch at the Farmers Arms Tavern at Cabarlah will keep the men happy!

Best shopping spot

I can’t remember the last time I was in a shop (and I do visit quite a lot of them!) where I simply could not leave without wanting to take half of the shop with me. Harolds Finishing Touches, on the corner of Bridge and Hume Streets, has become my go-to place for all of my gift shopping. The owner Aaron has impeccable taste and the constantly changing displays are drool-worthy.

Must-do activity

Picnic Point Lookout

A visit to a few of the great antique shops and art galleries, interspersed with regular coffee stops (of course) makes for a lovely day out. Tosari Galleries at the top of Margaret Street and Range Antiques on Burke Street are a good place to start. The view from Picnic Point is stunning and a great way for visitors to see the city.