You can’t beat Spring in any part of South East Queensland – and this weekend was a ripper!

Carnival of Flowers #TCOF2021 was a bit of welcome relief from lockdowns and restrictions for the almost 60,000 people who visited the Garden City for this magical annual floral spectacular. The year-long dedication by the Toowoomba Regional Council garden troupe in producing the Dinosaur themed garden beds at Laurel Bank Park and the magnificent colour palettes at Queen’s Park is nothing but extraordinary. What a wonderful team!

If it’s gardens that bees adore or the Grand Central Parade you want, then this is the place to beeee! We had been sneaking in window displays, special signature foodie dishes and markets, street lane art, pub trails and the Food and Wine Festival since the beginning of September, but the pinnacle was the Parade. This year in particular saw many and varied multicultural groups participate. The floats and walking groups were all Butterfly themed and the beautiful images from Natalie Fogarty from @VigourGraphics show the colour and mastery which was produced to entertain the crowds lining the streets. What a wonderful start to the weekend.

Sunday was a long day driving out from Toowoomba to the Bunkers Hill Succulent Festival. I went very under-prepared. When I saw the others heading to the entry gate with plenty of cardboard boxes, I knew I was going to regret not thinking ahead. Sure enough, the little country plant market I had imagined was a HUGE celebration of all things succulents, herbs, planters, soil nutrients and knick-knacks for the plant enthusiasts. Set in the grounds and hall of the local school, the festival was a well-organised and enticing display of this special plant family. Sadly I made mental notes about what to do for next year and dragged myself away from the wonderful smell of the bbq to head down the Range and on to the next destination.

Walloon is a community only about 3 kilometres off the Warrego Highway towards Ipswich, where I was tracking down the newly opened and wonderfully different PhatBoyz Smokehouse. Set in the newly established phase of suburban estates about to explode the population out of the water, this is an amazing family enterprise. Run by dynamic duo couple Luke and Laurie-Anne Saggus, Luke is living his dream of being the best smokehouse cook in Australia. Judging by the numbers of meals served each day, the increasing number of staff and the wonderful media coverage, their dream will become a reality for sure! Only a short drive from historic Ipswich, and a hop, skip and a jump from Toowoomba, this is a foodie taste sensation worth the drive!

Then it was a quick pitstop to collect teenage grandchildren and head on down to Currumbin Beach on the southern end of the Gold Coast to catch the final day of the wonderful Swell Festival of beach sculptures. Despite the thousands of others who obviously had the same idea and who were all trying to find that elusive car park, it was a fairly painless experience to get there…..well thanks to the carpark about 400 metres away. A short walk past Elephant Rock and the jam-packed Surf Life Saving Club, then we saw the amazing sculptures both lining the sand for quite a distance and those along the roadside.

Creative minds and skilled hands had obviously been in gear to produce such a range of often perplexing and yet thought-provoking pieces. Teenage offspring were quite amazed at the sale prices – often commanding thousands of dollars. We each had our favourite pieces. With a good walk and the sand between our toes, we headed back to the car and piled in for our lunch destination up the Currumbin Valley to celebrate (or perhaps commiserate) with my youngest brother on the momentous 60th milestone. Wonderful to spend family memory moments!

It’s always nice to learn something new, and my SIL is a fount of knowledge, and so I learnt a shortcut back up to the highway – what a bonus. The long Sunday ended on a hard-boiled egg note over a great catch up natter and a sleepover with my Mum at Wynnum North. The perfect end to a wonderful weekend.