Gayle is an accountant. Shh – don’t tell. She thinks she’s a writer.
Published June 19th 2015
The Wonderland that is Warwick
Fun Things to do on a Warwick Getaway What is there to see in Warwick, I wondered. My husband had lived here as a child so we included it on a road trip. I was expecting nothing but found a hidden treasure. Just under two hours' drive from Brisbane and only an hour and a half from Toowoomba, this deceptively quiet rural city on the Condamine River in the Darling Downs has much to offer for a weekend away or a short holiday.
This town, settled in 1840 and steeped in history, is often referred to as the Rodeo and Rose City. The rodeo commenced in Warwick in 1857 and The Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre is here. Roses are a feature of Warwick's CBD and parks and gardens. We visited in May and many were in bloom. The Arafuto rose, referred to as 'The City of Warwick' was developed for the city.
A beautiful rose outside the Warwick Visitor Information Centre in Albion Street
Why: For a peaceful and interesting weekend or short holiday. When: Anytime Phone: 07 4661 3122 Warwick Visitor Information Centre Website www.warwickevents.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where: 2 hours from Brisbane along the Cunningham Hwy or 1 ½ from Toowoomba along the New England Hwy.
CBD Heritage Walk
We grab a brochure and map from the Warwick Information Centre and embark on The CBD (Heritage) Walk. Other walks on the brochure are The Railway Walk, The Dairy Walk, The Weewondilla Hill Walk, and The River Walk. Distances, level of fitness and points of interest are clearly detailed. A more detailed booklet, 'Queensland's Southern Downs Heritage & Historic Buildings Trail' is also available from the Information Centre or can be downloaded.
We take a leisurely stroll on this easy 2.2kms walk which takes in many of Warwick's heritage buildings, the sandstone for which was sourced from local quarries. We first pass the town hall, a grand structure opened in 1888. Beneath the verandah an imposing metal stair case rises up the building past open archways.
The Criterion Hotel, erected in 1917, provides us with one of the best examples of iron lacework we have ever seen. Above the bull-nosed verandah, shamrocks adorn the parapets. Inside are pressed metals ceilings and there are stained glass windows in the public bar.
The ANZ Bank's two storey building, erected in 1912, is framed by two well established palm trees, each taller than the building itself.
The Condamine Sports Club, another two storey building, was completed in 1913. The panels of the magnificent iron lacework on the upper verandah are set with a recurring pattern of a woman in a flowing gown, reminiscent of ancient Grecian statues. It's worth noting the Club does a very economical lunch special.
The Post Office building, opened in 1888, is a classic sandstone building that testifies to Warwick's longevity. It has a look about it that would not be out of place in a centuries old European City.
These are but a sample of the inspiring architecture we pass along the perimeter of an area covering four city blocks. Take it slow, stop for a coffee along the way, make it an outing in itself.
You will also see the Police Station (1901), St Andrews Uniting Church (1870), Court House (1886), St Georges Lodge (1887), Central School (1875), St Mary's Catholic Church (1926), St Mary's Presbytery (1877), Byrnes Monument (the first Qld born Premier), War Memorial, and the Leslie Park Rotunda.
This walk is wheelchair accessible. There are public toilets at the Visitor Information Centre 49 Albion Street and at Leslie Park in both Fitzroy Street and Guy Street. Details and maps can be obtained from the Visitor Information Centre.
Why: A leisurely stroll into yesteryear suitable for all levels of fitness and is wheelchair accessible.
Phone: 07 4661 3122 Warwick Visitor Information Centre
Where: Warwick CBD, encompassing a four block area defined by Wood St, Palmerin St, Albert St and Guy St.
Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre
The first professional buckjumping contest was held in Warwick in 1857 and was the likely start of a rodeo tradition that continues to this day. The Warwick Show and Rodeo is held each year on the last full weekend in October. The Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre in Alice Street showcases the history and the sport.
On display are such memorabilia as saddles, ropes and chaps. Information boards and photos mounted on the walls and displayed trophies tell the stories of rodeo champions. Some of the displays are interactive. Demonstrations (by appointment) are conducted in their arena. There is, of course, a store where memorabilia can be purchased.
More information can be obtained from their website
Why: To learn of the history and development of Australian Rodeo.
When: 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday, Weekends by appointment
Phone: 07 4661 3122 Warwick Visitor Information Centre
Where: Alice Street, Warwick.
Cost: (June 2015) Admission: Single $10.00, Couple $15.00, Aged Pensioner $7.50 single / $10.00 couple, Group bookings by prior arrangement - $7.50 per person, Children 12 and under free
Glengallan Homestead and Heritage Centre
A Warwick local told us the story of Glengallan Homestead, both an auspicious mansion and a financially disastrous folly. The house was built piecemeal and it is believed it is incomplete. Plans were never found and so the mystery remains.
We go for a pleasant rural drive 13kms north of Warwick on the New England Hwy to the Glengallan Homestead and Heritage Centre. We look through the artefacts on display in the Heritage Centre/Coffee Shop and read the timeline that stretches the length of the back wall.
We walk along a gravel path and past restored gardens to the Glengallan Homestead. Verandahs on two sides of the building accord sweeping views over the surrounding countryside.
Views of the surrounding countryside from Glengallan Homestead
Inside, the drawing room has been furnished in accordance with photos from the 1890's. Even now it is rather posh. Part of the room has been left unrestored, the contrast a wonderful illustration of the work carried out. Information boards and photo albums tell the stories of past inhabitants.
In one corner a mummified cat is displayed in a glass case set in the floor. The cat was discovered under the floor boards during the restoration.
In the dining room, also on the ground floor, a video plays. Descendants of the inhabitants of Glengallan tell what they know of the homestead.
Upstairs the bathroom and bedrooms are yet to be completed. We step onto the balcony and what a glorious view. There can be no doubt why the builders chose to site the homestead here.
Further information can be obtained from their website. There is free parking within the grounds and public toilets.
Why: To view how the social elite lived in the late 19th century and discover and marvel at the herculean efforts to restore this once ruined homestead.
When: 10am to 4pm Wednesday to Sunday. Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Phone: 07 4667 3866
Where: 18515 New England Highway, Warwick-Allora, approximately 13kms north of Warwick
Cost: (June 2015) Adult $10, Child $4, Family: 2 Adults & 2 Children $25.00, 1 Adult & 2 Children $15.00, Group Admission (15 ) - Adult $8, Child $3
The River Walk
We begin the River Walk at Federation Park where information boards along the path tell some of the town's history. There is a 15 tonne granite sculpture of Tiddalik, the frog who according to Aboriginal Legend swallowed all the water causing a drought until the other animals made him laugh and the water came rushing back out of his mouth. Nearby is a statue of Muggil, the Aboriginal icon for water dragons in the Condamine. This one appears to be carved from sandstone.
Statue of Tiddalik, of Aboriginal Legend, in Federation Park
At intervals along the path is an assortment of exercise equipment; stretching bars, steps, a small rock climbing wall, a rope climb, and many others. Warwick residents need not go the expense of joining a gymnasium.
For a while the path leaves the riverside and passes under a rail bridge, beside a ploughed paddock. There are gum trees along the path and here we see a variety of birdlife; starlings, crested pigeons, apostle birds, black-faced cuckoo shrikes, rainbow lorikeets, magpies, ducks, and red-rumped parrots. At the end of the path is what looks like a very small weir where a white egret and a white-faced heron wait patiently for a catch.
This paved, wheel-chair accessible, walking track was created as part of the Government's GFC Stimulus Package and it is pleasing to see it so well used. We pass people walking their dogs, joggers, power walkers, and fishermen and all this in the middle of a work day. Further along in Queens Park a skate bowl is well patronised. There is the occasional park bench and picnic tables with seats, some covered, along the path.
In all, the River Walk is an easy 3kms with plenty of seats to rest along the way. There is free parking at the entrance to Federation Parkland near the Skate Bowl in Queens Park. There are public toilets at Rotary Park and neat the Skate Bowl at Queens Park. Information about the walk can be obtained from the Visitor Information Centre
Why: For a relaxing walk, some birdwatching and to absorb the peace and quiet of the countryside
Phone: 07 4667 3866 Warwick visitor Information Centre
Where: Federation Park, Corner of Victoria Street and Albion Street (The Cunningham Highway)
Wednesday Pig and Calf Market and Trash and Treasure Auctions
The Wednesday pig and calf markets are a weekly event at Warwick along with a trash and treasure auction. Held on the corner of Lyons and Fitzroy Street, this is the longest running market in Queensland.
Pigs awaiting sale at the Wednesday pig and calf market
We buy sausages and onions in bread from a food van and go to the pens to see the pigs and calves held there for sale. We watch chooks being auctioned, many of which sell for only $2. We wonder how this can be worthwhile.
There are many fruit and vegetable stalls set up on trestle tables beneath heavy plastic tarpaulins.
The trash and treasure lots are quite a mix. There are rolls of fencing wire some of which is rusted, plumbing supplies, what looks like the obsolete stock of a gift store, lots of exercise equipment, a pallet of paving stones that appear to be colour samples, boxes of corn, bales of hay, hoses, books and so much more.
The markets are well patronised and much socilaising is afoot.
Why: Pick up a bargain, experience some country life and just have a jolly good time.
When: 8am to noon on Wednesdays
Phone: 07 4661 3122 Warwick Visitor Information Centre
Where: At the corner of Lyons and Fitzroy Streets, Warwick
Southern Downs Steam Railway Precinct
At the Southern Downs Steam Railway Precinct volunteers are restoring a steam train and old rolling stock. On Wednesdays the workers will show people around for the cost of a gold coin donation.
We are taken through the carriages that have been finished or almost finished, told a little about them and about the engine. The steam engine has been restored to full working order. A turntable and old station buildings are also on site. There is much for all to see, this is not just the domain of steam train enthusiasts.
The coal is donated by the New Hope Mine. Some of the rolling stock was donated by Queensland Rail who also rent a station building to the group for only a thousand dollars a year. The line is also maintained by Queensland Rail.
The Railway runs a number of trips each year. Visitors can take a step back in time and travel the way our grandparents did. Timetables and bookings can be viewed on the website.
Why: For a look at the old railway, train and carriages and to chat with the volunteers engaged in the restoration.
When: 9am to 5pm Wednesdays and trains tours per the timetable on the website
Phone: 07 4661 9788
Where: Corner Hamilton & Fitzroy Streets, Warwick
Cost: Gold coin donation