The easiest way to get the most out of your visit is by following our picturesque Tourist Drives. Pick up a map or brochure from one of our friendly Visitor Information Centres or download one from the links available below.
The Cobb & Co Tourist Drive
The first mail route awarded to Cobb & Co in Queensland ran from Ipswich to Toowoomba in 1865. Not long afterwards, the railway line opened from Ipswich to Grandchester. Mail was transported by coach from Brisbane to Ipswich, then via rail from Ipswich to Grandchester, then back to coach again from Grandchester to Toowoomba. After the railway line from Brisbane to the Darling Downs was completed in 1875, Cobb and Co operated from the western railheads, carrying passengers and mail to many distant, dusty outback towns and settlements. Up to 4 horses and 6 staff were needed for an average days journey of about 80kms. Teams of horses were changed at depots spaced every 25 to 40 kilometres along the routes.
At its peak Cobb & Co owned thousands of horses and numerous coaches, workshops, offices and stables and employed hundreds of drivers, grooms, coach builders and office staff. Cobb & Co completed its last coach run on August 14th 1924, from Surat to Yuleba in south-west Queensland. The company ceased operations in 1929, closing a unique 75 year chapter in Australian transportation history.
The Cobb & Co Tourist Drive follows the railway line and original road from Ipswich to Toowoomba, traversing the Lockyer Valley. You will see heritage-listed pubs & hotels constructed as resting points for travellers heading west. View industries that have supplied South East Queensland with stone, timber, coal and agriculture for building materials, power and food. Visit historic buildings, landscaped gardens, parks & reserves, unspoilt villages and local lookout points.
The Cobb & Co Tourist Drive takes you through the towns and localities of Walloon, Rosewood, Grandchester, Laidley, Forest Hill, Gatton, Helidon and Spring Bluff before arriving in Toowoomba. Whether you start your journey at either end of the route or somewhere in between, the distinctive "wagon wheel" direction signs will show you the way to go.
Just as Cobb & Co passengers needed occasional stops during their journey, so do modern-day travellers. Three convenient locations in Rosewood, Forest Hill and Gatton have been designated as "Staging Posts", identified by unique easy to spot signs. All Staging Posts are situated where services such as public toilets and the availability of food and drinks are accessible seven days a week.
To obtain a copy of the Cobb & Co Tourist Drive foldable brochure, click here.
Cuppa Tea Trail
Showcasing an award winning environmental initiative, the Cuppa Tea Trail has been developed by the Lockyer Valley Regional Council in consultation with Somerset Regional Council and Powerlink as a 'drive trail'.
The trail links Greening Lockyer projects which were undertaken in the Lockyer Valley and Somerset regions to minimise the impact of electricity infrastructure. Explore magnificent parks, reserves and bushland and utilise the great facilities and equipment on offer. Locations include Lake Apex, Glen Rock Regional Park, the University of Queensland Environmental Education Precinct and Narda Lagoon.
You can mail order a copy, or pick one up from our Visitor Information Centre and remember, don't forget your thermos!
Explore creeks and valleys under the Great Dividing Range via the small communities of Ma Ma Creek and Junction View. Stop and visit the settler-built church and historic cemetery at Ma Ma Creek. Locate pioneer graves and view the memorial dedicated to three local brothers lost in France in WWI. Drive through the Thiess brothers' spectacular first major earthworks job, carving out a huge section of stone for road access. Stop at Heifer Creek rest area and read the Thiess Memorial. Continue to Glen Rock Regional Park via the great views from Lagoon Creek Road and return to Gatton through the farming areas of Mount Sylvia and Tenthill. Bushwalkers will enjoy exploring the basalt ridges and rainforest gorges of Glen Rock. This drive does include some gravel and is not recommended for caravans or buses.
To download a printable version of the Glen Rock tourist drive map, click here
Cunningham’s Crest Lookout
Cunningham's Crest Lookout is situated on the knoll where explorer Allan Cunningham and his party crossed in 1829. It was on this spot that he stood and named the plains below, 'Laidley Plains'. Visitors today are rewarded with panoramic views of the township, framed by a mountain backdrop. The lookout features murals, poetry, sculptures and mosaics that celebrate the European and Aboriginal history of the site and reflect on Laidley's early pioneering men and women.
For directions, drive south into Laidley on Laidley-Plainland Road, turning left onto Railway Street immediately before crossing the railway line. Follow Railway Street to the end, turn left into Summers Street and right into Paroz Road. Follow this up Buhse’s Hill, turning right onto Mountain Road at the intersection. From here, follow the lookout signs to reach the gravel carpark.
Schultz Lookout is situated in the beautiful Blenheim Hills area and affords views of rich agricultural farmlands. Facilities include a shelter shed and picnic table.
For directions, drive through Patrick Street, Laidley and turn right onto Mulgowie Road at the T-intersection. From Mulgowie Road, turn right onto Blenheim Road and left onto Schultz Lookout Road.
Laidley Valley Drive
This drive takes you through fertile farming land bordered by the Little Liverpool Range (east) and the Mistake mountains (west). Mt Castle stands like a fortress, blocking any exit from the southern end of the valley.
Travel south from Laidley through the rural towns of Mulgowie and Thornton to Crosby Park for a picnic beside Laidley Creek. In the wet season, take in picturesque views of waterfalls flowing from the distant mountain slopes. Pet friendly camping is available at Centenary Park, Thornton (bookings essential). Catch the Mulgowie Markets on the first Saturday of the month.
On the return journey, turn left into Beckman Road just before the Mulgowie Hotel, then right into Laidley Creek West Road for an alternative route back to Laidley.
Spring Bluff & Murphys Creek
Experience the challenges faced by railway engineers of the 1860s, constructing tracks up the notoriously steep 'Main Range' into Toowoomba.
Follow the Cobb & Co Tourist Drive signage onto Murphys Creek Road and drive into the beautiful town of Murphys Creek. Stop at Jessie’s Cottage, an original pioneering-era house museum open Saturday to Monday. Located adjacent to Jessie's Cottage is the rescued Lockyer Siding, an old transport shelter perfect for picnics. Alongside the railway tracks is a Railway Museum full of local rail history and artefacts. See the friendly volunteers at Jessie's Cottage for entry.
Continue along Murphy’s Creek Road to Spring Bluff Historic Railway Station. This heritage-listed venue features beautiful landscaped gardens, spectacular valley views and excellent public picnic facilities. Visit the cafe Thursday to Sunday 9.30am - 4.30pm for a all day breakfast or yummy home made treats! The cafe is operational everyday during September.
From Spring Bluff, loop back to the Lockyer Valley via Toowoomba, considering the efforts of past workers constructing nine tunnels and 47 bridges to bring the railway up the range!
For the Spring Bluff Scenic Drive Map, click here.
Wine & Rock
Take the back road and enjoy the spectacular valley and mountain views via Flagstone Creek and Stockyard. Drive south around Flagstone Creek Conservation Park and Mount Campbell to Preston, home of Preston Peak Wines. Enjoy wine tasting and sales of award winning wine. Return via the New England Highway to Toowoomba, or complete the circuit through Upper Flagstone Creek Road back to Gatton. This drive involves a steep climb and is not suitable for caravans.
To download a printable version of the Wine & Rock Tourist Drive click here