Toowoomba is home to 90,000 people and is the regional capital for the Darling Downs. Just 130kms west of Brisbane, it is Australia's second largest inland city, after Canberra.
It is known as the Garden City because of the Carnival of Flowers which is held each September. The city has tree-lined streets and many parks and gardens.
Travelling out of Toowoomba will take you into the rich, fertile Darling Downs area. Only minutes from the outskirts of town, you will realise that you are indeed in a rural area, with a strong agricultural industry. And where you have rural Australia you have some interesting and unusual pubs!
The Spotted Cow is in Toowoomba itself and is a local icon. It was licensed in 1892 and has been owned and operated by the Coorey family for the last nine years or so. The pub is the home of rugby on the Downs and its Vintage Jersey Bar is a haven for fans of that sport. The family's collection of over 60 vintage jerseys, which have been donated by players of all levels, is showcased. There are signed Wallabies and All Blacks jerseys and each has a special story. The Coorey boys are happy to share rugby tales.
The Spotted Cow has a café and licensed restaurant and is becoming well-known on the Downs for its fine food. Prime Angus from the Darling Downs is a winner. Then there's the beer. The pub boasts 150 varieties of imported and boutique beers carefully selected by Phil Coorey and sommelier Ian Watson, believed to be Australia's best.
The cellars have inspired the latest development on the local hospitality scene; Oropa European Beer Café. It boasts many of the European items needed to replicate the theatre involved in serving the brews, including beer fonts from Belgium.
Cambooya is 19kms south of Toowoomba. It is beautiful farming country with fields of golden sunflowers and grain. It is also a dairy centre and has some healthy manufacturing businesses.
The Bull & Barley Inn is truly Australian and loaded with colonial charm, polished floors, open fires in winter and fine country accommodation. It has no gambling machines, which ensures the proper ambience. A full restoration has brought back the glory of its 1902 conception. There are interesting displays of historic pieces and photographs.
The inn has a good variety of wines and a wide selection of beer, bottled and on tap. All beverages requiring cooling are chilled in the Inn's original cedar chiller box.
The Bull & Barley serves lunch and dinner every day and has mouth-watering menus. There is a special menu for children.
Another 19kms south is the small village of Nobby where you will find Rudd's Pub. It was established in 1893 and has all the charm of that era, with loads of memorabilia and pictures.
Country-style lunch and dinner are served in the restaurant every day and there are bar snacks available.
An old railway cottage has been restored to create romantic accommodation for two. It has a leadlight window and light shades, beautiful wallpaper and a veranda overlooking the crops of the Downs.
For such a tiny place it has a population of just 350 Nobby has some interesting history. It was home to Sister Elizabeth Kenny and author Steele Rudd.
Sister Kenny was a polio pioneer who laboured long and hard before the discovery of the Salk and Sabin vaccines. Her first clinic was in a backyard under an awning in 1933. She is buried in the Nobby Cemetery and in 1998 a memorial building displaying her history was established.
Steele Rudd was born there as Arthur Hoey Davis. Under his pseudonym he wrote humorous accounts of country life. His main characters, Dad, Dave and Mabel, became household names in Australia as the stories were adapted for radio. His stories have been dramatised and filmed many times.