High Country Drive

Travel north from Toowoomba along the edge of the Range above historic Spring Bluff Railway Station, known for its beautiful gardens. The whole precinct is now heritage listed. This is part of the historic Ipswich to Toowoomba railway line, completed in April 1867 You're now at Highfields, first in a string of charming villages along the escarpment. Don't miss the Pioneer Village here, and the town's host of specialty stores. The Highfields Pioneer Historical Village has an unusual collection of vintage machinery. The Historical Village also has a fully operating blacksmith shop, a Heritage Chapel, an original Toowoomba 1928 Dennis Fire Engine, a two cell lock up short term prison from 1903, Model T Fords, and a collection of restored antique radios and appliances.

The Danish Flower Art Centre at Highfields hosts a number of displays including a flower barn, Dutch furniture store and operating blacksmith workshop. The Chocolate Cottage is located at the Village Green which sells antiques, art and other specialty items. Across the road from the Village Green is Jacaranda Manor. Within Jacaranda Manor is a coffee shop, fudge factory and bead store. Davidson Arboretum which includes Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya pine).

Further on, the villages of Cabarlah and Hampton are just as well endowed with attractions. Cabarlah is situated on the Great Divide with views to the east of the Lockyer Valley through to Brisbane and to the west across the Darling Downs. Whilst in Cabarlah we recommend a stop for a coffee at the mexican inspired cafe Colours of San Cris. Also of notable interest is the large cuckoo clock shop on the New England Highway in nearby Cabarlah.

Since the Second World War, Cabarlah has also had a significant role as a base for the Australian Army. It was home to elements of the 7th Brigade early in the war. Later in the war it became a hub for signals and other training. Cabarlah is now home to 7 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare) and other Australian Defence Force signals facilities.

Hampton is known for the antique shop and gift stores as well as local produce, including citrus and avocados grown on the many farms located around the district. A circuit drive then links Ravensbourne and Crows Nest, giving access to their respective national parks and to Lake Cressbrook and Lake Perseverance. Ravensbourne National Park features short bushwalking tracks, a scenic lookout and picnic facilities. In May the park surrounding the Visitor Information Center plays host to the Hampton High Country Food and Art Festival. The festival gives local producers from all over the Darling Downs a chance to showcase their produce.

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Crows Nest National Park is known for its rugged landscape dominated by domed granite outcrops, waterfalls, and a sparkling gorge called Valley of Diamonds. This valley is so-called because of the mineral felspar which glistens in the sunlight. Lookouts, wildflower heaths, wildlife observing and birdwatching are popular attractions for visitors. The park has a camping and picnic facilities.

Duration: half to full day.

Start and finish: Toowoomba.

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