The first mail route, awarded to Cobb & Co in Queensland, ran from Ipswich to Toowoomba in 1865. Not long afterwards, the railway line was opened from Ipswich to Grandchester. Mail was then transported by coach from Brisbane to Ipswich, then by rail from Ipswich to Grandchester and then back to the coach from Grandchester for the rest of the route to Toowoomba and Drayton. The railway line eventually wound its way up to the Darling Downs and back to Brisbane, with Cobb & Co working either end of the line to keep the mail flowing to the settlers of the western areas.
The Cobb & Co Tourist Drive follows the railway line and the original road from Ipswich to Gatton. You will see historical pubs and other magnificent buildings constructed as resting points along the way for travellers to the west. You will also see the industries along the way that have supplied South East Queensland with timber, coal and agriculture for building material, power and food. These historical industries have played an integral part in the development of our communities.
The Cobb & Co Tourist Drive runs between Ipswich and Toowoomba and takes you through the towns of Walloon, Rosewood, Grandchester, Laidley, Forest Hill, Gatton, Helidon and Spring Bluff before arriving in Toowoomba.
Driving south into Laidley, turn left into Railway Street immediately before crossing the railway line. Follow Railway Street to the end, then turn left into Summers Street, travelling along until you take a right hand turn into Paroz Road. Follow this up Buhse’s Hill and when you reach the top turn right into Mountain Road. Drive along until you see the Lookout sign.
Cunningham’s Crest Lookout offers panoramic views of the Lockyer Valley west to Toowoomba and south to Cunningham's Gap. Return via the same route.
Leaving Laidley, head south along the main street (Patrick Street) to Lions Park and Narda Lagoon. At Lions Park turn right at the intersection, following the road to Mulgowie and further on to the picnic and camping area at Thornton.
From Thornton, travel further into the Valley to Townson and Crosby Park where there are basic picnic facilities alongside Laidley Creek. This road takes you through some of the most fertile farming land in Australia.
Laidley Valley is bordered by the Little Liverpool Range to the east and the Mt Mistake Range to the west. Mt Castle stands like a fortress and can be seen for kilometres. It blocks any exit from the southern end of the valley.
On the return journey, turn left into Beckman Road just before the Mulgowie Hotel, then right into Laidley Creek West Road back to Laidley.
From Gatton travel west towards Grantham. At Lions Park (before the second bridge) turn left at the Warwick/Clifton turnoff. Head south through the quaint village of Winwill and on to Ma Ma Creek.
As you pass through Ma Ma Creek, on your left you will see one of the region’s oldest buildings - a settler built church. Keep travelling south through Mt Whitestone and Fordsdale. Toward the top of Heifer Creek turn left at the Lagoon Creek Road. This scenic stretch (some gravel) will take you from one valley to the next, offering some great views from high points along the way. This road actually travels for some time along the famous Bicentennial National Trail and is not recommended for caravans or buses.
After coming back down into the Tenthill Valley, turn left and follow the Blackfellow Creek back towards Gatton through some of the most intensive vegetable growing areas in the Lockyer.
Travelling along the Warrego Highway from Brisbane, turn right at Minden. Travel through the rural township of Tarampa, on track to the granite rock of Mt Tarampa. Mt Tarampa served as an airfield during the Second World War, and ammunition bunkers are set deep into the mountain. After its closure the airfield became the Lowood Raceway with an Australian Grand Prix held there during the post-war period.
Travelling on you will reach Atkinson Dam – a perfect spot for swimming, skiing, fishing and camping. After leaving the Dam turn left and travel along the Gatton-Esk Road where you will see turf farms, mango plantations and the Lake Clarendon Bird Sanctuary on your left. Crossing the Lockyer Creek you travel into the vegetable belt.
Turn left onto the Warrego Highway, on your right is the University of Queensland Gatton campus. Along this section of highway you will find more crop harvesting, fresh fruit and vegetable markets and some of the Lockyer Valley’s aviation adventure sports.
Starting at Gatton, head west along the Warrego Highway past Helidon. Turn right at Helidon Spa and head north to Murphy’s Creek. This picturesque road follows close to the Main Range line of the Southern and Western Railway between Helidon and Toowoomba.
In Murphy’s Creek you will find an original pioneering-era cottage. One of the region’s most historic buildings, ‘Jessie’s Cottage’ is located adjacent to the Lockyer Valley’s very own MCG (Murphy’s Creek Ground). Continue along Murphy’s Creek towards Spring Bluff. The heritage-listed railway station features beautiful gardens and stunning views of the Valley.
From Spring Bluff you will continue along close to the train line, a section which when built was the most difficult to engineer, involving nine tunnels and 47 bridges. Continue travelling along Murphy’s Creek Road toward Toowoomba.
For the Spring Bluff Scenic Drive Map, click here.