Yes, the view from the edge of the Great Dividing Range is probably the most iconic tourist image of Toowoomba, but Picnic Point is so much more than the view. Past generations of locals and weekenders have walked the parks, enjoyed a picnic, climbed the rocket, or laughed at the cans of fresh mountain air sold to gullible visitors. But what does Picnic Point offer in 2021?
The view east to the Lockyer Valley is a wide panorama, with sweeping hills and plains and dominated by the bald Table Top mountain with its single tree on the summit. Many thousands, including my mother and her siblings and school friends in the 1940s, spent weekends climbing the mountain. It hasn’t been until relatively recently that the history of Multugerah the Jagera Aboriginal warrior and the mountain (One Tree Hill) have become widely known……and the naming of the Second Range Crossing in tribute to this determined leader shows its important significance in Toowoomba’s history. You can find the fascinating, yet disturbing history at tr.qld.gov.au site or search for One Tree Hill history.
As you would expect, a place named Picnic Point indicates the casual al fresco meals or ice cream treats eaten at the many bench seats or rotundas or on rugs spread on the grass beneath giant hoop pines and native gums. There are so many picnic options to choose from that there is never any chance that families, young romantic couples, groups looking for a space to kick a soccer ball or the more sedate seniors or less mobile cannot find a suitable spot.
Looking for walking tracks or waterfalls? You are in luck! The view north along the track shows the Range Highway snaking its way up the 780 metres, though it is nowadays much less congested because the large trucks use the Second Range Crossing which diverts traffic to the north near Mt Kynoch.
Following the European trend of placing a lock to symbolise eternal love commitment, The Hitching Rail brings a smile to those who are heading to the waterfall. The track through this section winds around the base of the waterfall and is a very pleasant path any time of the year. Following the tracks around the edge of the escarpment allows walkers to check out the vegetation, birdlife and keep a keen eye out for small animals. You have earned your rest at the end of the trails.
For the less adventurous, there is the gentle stroll past the famous statue of ‘Puppy’ the terrier mascot of the Toowoomba Thistle Pipe Band; more stunning views; the rose garden; the huge Australian flag which can be seen from many kilometres away; the landmark white water tower or the direction dial which helps orientate your travel. Certainly works up an appetite!
Luckily you don’t have to look far for a great meal. The restaurant offers great food options and sensational views through the tree canopies, with both indoor and outdoor seating. Even your canine companions are catered for at the outside tables. The ice cream options are delicious summer treats. Of course, the BYO picnics are always a favourite.
Or perhaps you are a Mum looking for a place to bring the little ones. The playgrounds are beautifully presented and maintained, as are the public restrooms. The different facilities are a testament to the hundreds of volunteer organisations that have created such a wonderful area for many generations to come. Quirky play forts or contemporary versions of the Lions Park rocket slide and octopus are definitely child-friendly favourites! And there are many different swings and slides scattered around the area. All ages are catered for.
Wow! All this and you have only just reached the edge of Toowoomba! So much more lies ahead …….Picnic Point welcomes visitors and locals alike. Grab a sandwich and head on up!