East Toowoomba - Queens Park and Botanic Gardens
Address: 43 Lindsay Street, East Toowoomba QLD 4350
A stroll through the State Heritage listed Queens Park and Botanic Gardens is an absolute must for any visitor to the Garden City.
Set across more than 25 picturesque hectares, the parkland has been enjoyed by generations of locals and regional visitors since it first opened to the public in the late 1800s.
It's a beautiful calm space where nature showcases its seasonal offerings, alongside the city's bustling CBD.
In spring and summer, riotous colour spots garden beds in a shout out to the warmer weather, while autumn obliges with its own radiant show.
Dollops of red and orange swirl across the landscape as the leaves of giant deciduous trees transform and fall, laying a textured, multi-coloured carpet underneath.
During winter the parklands rest against a predominantly evergreen backdrop fringed by manicured hedges and edges, and other feature specimens.
A variety of community activities and annual events are also hosted at Queens Park and Botanic Gardens with Toowoomba's internationally renowned Carnival of Flowers and its signature Flower, Food and Wine Festival leading the way.
From tree-lined avenues and woodlands to open space sporting ovals, all abilities playgrounds, and barbecue and picnic facilities, the parkland has lots to offer across three distinct areas, namely Queens Park Botanic Gardens, Vera Lacaze Memorial Park and Queens Park's greater park area.
Queens Park and Botanic Gardens showcase an awe-inspiring garden collection featuring displays of seasonal plants, set against a lush backdrop of lawns, shrubs and avenues of towering trees.
Each year, thousands of seedlings are planted in attractive geometric shaped garden beds to ensure their spring blooms peak in time for the Carnival of Flowers.
Towards the centre of the Gardens stands the Alfred Thomas Memorial. Named after a prominent local figure in the development of railways in the Region, the monument holds social and historical significance.
Alfred Thomas was the supervising engineer at the Southern and Western Railway in the 1870s. He lived in Toowoomba with his family who were highly respected and valued members of the community.
Following his retirement from civil service in 1879, Mr Thomas built the railways south to Stanthorpe and west from Warwick in partnership with John Garget.
Tragically, on a return trip home from Sydney via ship, Mr Thomas fell overboard in Sydney Harbour on 10 August 1882 and drowned. His body was later returned to Toowoomba and laid to rest at Drayton Cemetery.
Deeply shocked by his death, a committee of citizens, headed by W.H. Groom, decided to build a permanent memorial in his honour.
Today, the Alfred Thomas Memorial is surrounded by sprawling lawns, mature trees, and decorative garden beds.
Nearby, a vintage Naval cannon takes up its position facing Campbell Street. It was donated to the people of Toowoomba, early in 1911, after its removal from the Marine Defence Force Naval Store, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane.
The wrought iron muzzle-loading fifled gun, 64-Pdr., 64Cwt., Mark III. had been used for training purposes.
Another point of significant interest in the gardens is the Emma Miller Memorial Plaque. It's located just off the pathway to the south-west of the Alfred Thomas Memorial.
Emma Miller (1839-1917) was a suffragist and is often recognised as the Mother of the Labour movement. Her memorial plaque reveals that she, "advocated involvement in the working and political conditions not only of women, but also of men".
Emma Miller gave her last public speech in the Toowoomba Botanic Gardens on 20 January 1917. She died two days later while in Toowoomba.
Other features of the park's built environment are a pair of National Bank Columns, donated by the National Bank of Australia in 1987, and a Stone Entrance Arch. Situated off Lindsay Street, the sandstone arch was completed as part of a Council upgrade of the gardens in August 1987.
Traditionally, entry to the parkland was via Campbell Street. This was primarily due to the original Toowoomba Showgrounds being sited across the road.
Specific horticultural hubs have been developed within the greater garden area including:
- Ornamental display gardens of annuals, perennials and bulbs
- Carnival of Flowers commemorative garden
- Endemic Garden (local natives)
- Rose Walk
- Camellia Garden
- Parterre Garden
- Cycad Garden
- Palm Garden
The Botanic Gardens are also home to a Wollemi Pine.
Godsall Street ovals
The Godsall Street ovals are a popular location for various sports including cricket during the summer months. Public toilets are located in this area.
Margaret Street - children's play area
An extensive children's play area is located adjacent to Margaret Street and features a range of equipment for all ages including swings, play trains and a carousel.
A large gazebo, picnic tables, barbecues and seats are scattered throughout this area of the park. Public toilets are conveniently located here too.
To the north east of the play area is an open space oval with cricket pitch.
Lindsay Street - all abilities playground
An all abilities playground is located near the car parking area off Lindsay Street and is accessed by interlinking pathways. The play area features a Liberty swing, sound-sensor games, musical instruments, and touch-and-feel play panels.
Other features include picnic tables and a barbecue with public toilets conveniently located nearby. A small oval provides an open space area to enjoy various sporting activities.
Lindsay Street- Petanque/Bocce court
The Petanque or Bocce court is located near the Lindsay Street toilets and horse-shoe carpark, and can be identified by its granite surface and concrete edging.
Harding Avenue of Trees (Camphor Laurels); Cypress Avenue; William Charles Peak Memorial; Steamroller; Former Parks Superintendent’s House - now home to Toowoomba Historical Society.
- Lindsay Street ovals – used for sport and events
- Godsall Street ovals – used for sport and events
- Frogs Hollow – used for sport and events
- Dog Off-Leash Area
- Lindsay Street all-abilities playground and barbecue area
- Margaret Street playground and barbecue area
The Vera Lacaze Memorial Park is the formal entrance to Queens Park from the CBD via Margaret and Hume Streets. This park is named in tribute to Vera Elizabeth Lacaze who was the first woman alderman in the Toowoomba City Council. The park features a water fountain, paths and picnic facilities.
The modernist landscape design was laid out in 1964, possibly to the design of Mr Arne Fink, a local Landscape Architect, associated with Toowoomba gardens at that time. The sweep of the main concrete path with central garden bed, and 1960's modern light fittings provided a well-considered promenade in this corner of Queens Park. The distinctive fountains of graded sizes and the bridge over East Creek with stylish balustrades provides distinctive design elements to this pocket-park.
Vera Lacaze Memorial Park features:
- Historical features – Site of Former Baths; Fountains; Bridge over East Creek
- Other features of interest – Ornamental Display Gardens; entrance to Queens Park from Toowoomba CBD
The dog off-leash area is a popular location for animal owners. The park features seating and picnic tables and with the many trees provides a nice shaded area to relax and exercise your dog. For the convenience of the public there are drinking-fountains, bins with bag dispensers and pathways.
The unfenced dog off-leash area is designated by signage and gardens.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, it was customary for the colonial government to grant land for a 'Queen’s' park.
In 1861, the municipal council was granted land where the Grammar School is now located but by 1871 it was exchanged for the present site (Government Camping Ground Reserve). This parcel of land had been used for grazing and was studded with deep holes made by brick makers. In 1872, Mayor W.H. Groom was instrumental in obtaining grants to fence the area and establish a botanical garden.
Queens Park (greater area) history
Queens Park Second Curator / Avenue of Trees
Richard Ross Harding (1848 – 1922), the second park curator (1883 – 1917), was responsible for drafting a new plan for Queens Park and the Botanic Gardens, having opened a section to the public in 1885. In 1888 Mr Harding undertook an extensive tree and garden program and planted avenues such as this of Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora). He was also renowned for the colourful flower displays in the Botanic Gardens.
William Charles Peak Memorial
This memorial was erected by the Toowoomba citizens as an appreciation of service rendered to Toowoomba and Districts by William Charles Peak on the 8th of August 1936.
This Buffalo-Springfield steamroller was manufactured by the Buffalo-Springfield Roller Company in Springfield, Ohio, U.S.A in the second decade of the twentieth century. The Toowoomba City Council purchased it in 1937 from the contracting firm W.B. Carr of South Brisbane. At the time of purchase, the machine was overhauled and it remained in active service until 1956 with nothing more than routine maintenance. Due to its historical significance, we discourage play or climbing on the artefact. There is purpose-built children's play equipment in close proximity for play activities.
Historical Cypress Avenue
The Cypress Avenue, planted in an unusual diagonal direction in the early twentieth century, remains partly evident today. The trees are predominantly Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) native to the Central Coast of California. An avenue of trees originally planted in 1875 creates broad avenues throughout the park.
Known locally as "Frogs Hollow", the sweeping expanse of grassed ovals near the corner of Hume and Margaret Streets makes an ideal venue for large community events. With its close proximity to the Toowoomba CBD, the area is popular for fundraising activities and static displays such as circuses. Public toilets are located in this area - adjacent to Margaret Street.
Frog's Hollow is recorded as being where the Alford family, on their way to Drayton, came in contact with Aboriginal Australians in 1842. Later the Eastern Swamp became the official camping ground for travellers and teamsters and a brick-making place. On Boxing Day, 1859, horse races, the first with a purse of 12 pounds and entrance of one pound, were run. In 1914 Junior Cricket was played in “Frogs Hollow”, in 1918 – 1921 its name was sometimes written as “Frog Hollow”. The name continues today.
Queens Park Botanic Gardens history
Queens Park's First Curator
Edward Way (1825 – 1881), was appointed first curator of Toowoomba’s Botanic Gardens (Queens Park) in 1874. Trained in London, he implemented work to clear unreclaimed bush, and designed and laid out the gardens. In the park’s north-east, he experimented with exotic fruits, trees, fodder crops and grasses. Under the direction of the Commission on Diseases of Animals and Plants, his whole-hearted effort greatly benefitted agriculture in the region.
Alfred Thomas Memorial
The Alfred Thomas Memorial is historically and socially significant as it commemorates a prominent figure in the development of the local railway in the Toowoomba region in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century. The Memorial is located in the Botanic Gardens of Toowoomba and it dominates the area in which it stands. In an attractive setting, the Alfred Thomas Memorial is surrounded by garden beds and landscaped grounds.
This canon - a Wrought Iron Muzzle-Loading Rifled Gun, 64-Pdr., 64Cwt., Mark III. - was donated to the people of Toowoomba early in 1911 after removal from the Marine Defence Force Naval Store, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, where it had been used for training purposes.
Emma Miller Memorial plaque
Emma Miller (1839-1917) was a suffragist, Union Organiser and Champion of the Rights of Man with a memorial erected in her honour.
National Bank Columns
These columns were erected in the park as a donation from the National Bank of Australia in 1987.
Stone Entrance Arch
In August 1987, this sandstone formal entry arch was completed. It was somewhat controversial at the time but was part of a council upgrade of the gardens, promoted by Alderman Knight. The traditional park entry is the Campbell Street frontage, this was primarily due to the original showgrounds being located on land where the Cobb & Co museum and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) Queensland South West campus are now located.
Queens Park facilities and recreational areas will be undergoing improvement works from January 2019. For more information please visit the Queens Park improvement works article.