Your first stop will be at Highfields for breakfast. En route on the New England Highway, turn left onto Quinlan Rd, pull over to get a good view towards nearby town Oakey. You could also spot a Ground Cuckoo Shrike soaring above. At Highfields the best breakfast is at the Chocolate Cottage on the Village Green, but book an early table as Sunday is busy. The best view is from the lawn overlooking distant blue mountain ranges.
The famous Chocolate Cottage at the Village Green, 10475 New England Highway, Highfields.
Instead of heading into town, turn right onto Griffiths Rd at Red Rooster. At Mort St turn left, then left at Jellicoe St, crossing the railway line.
An alternate route to Jellicoe St, if you'd like a taste of typical Australian countryside, turn right at Mort St, travel approximately three kilometres and turn left at Nugent Pinch Rd. Turn left onto the Warrego Highway, left into West St and right across the railway line into Jellicoe St.
Travel east on Jellicoe St all the way to the eastern escarpment and turn left into MacKenzie St. Turn right into Warana Ave for a quick view of enormous Jubilee Park. Rifle Range Rd will take you to a lookout point if you prefer. Turn into Range Rd off MacKenzie St and pull in at Boyce Gardens and Rainforest. Parking onsite, 6 Range Road. Now it's time to walk off that big breakfast.
The lush, shady slope is serene but can be deceptive in its unexpected spot of aerobic exercise. Boyce Gardens are on private property so stick to the outer paths. If the kids have never been within touching distance of a windmill, now's their chance. An old Aussie water tank also nestles among the rainforest trees. A circuit of the park may take twenty minutes. In Autumn you can enjoy the gold and russet-turning leaves. The gardens are open daily from 9am-4pm, no entry fee.
Continue west along Range Rd to Mary St and turn right. At North St turn right and head up to the lookout point for a view of the town surrounded by the quiet Warana Avenue Reserve.
Toowoomba from Mount Lofty, Warana Avenue Reserve.
Head back downhill on Mary St all the way to the end and turn left onto Kitchener St. Admire the weeping willows roadside, veer left then turn right into MacKenzie St, pass Lake Annand - your after lunch spot perhaps - and head east up Long St.
The Lions Park is immediately below Picnic Point. It should be around lunch time, so you should see the red train come out of its cave for the small people in your group. The lookout point offers a different view of the valley, the range crossing and the eastern escarpment. There are three gas bar-b-ques and outdoor booths.
If you fancy some casual dining indoors, follow Tourist Rd to the Range Shopping Centre on James St. Bombay Bliss, Restaurant and Catering, is a pleasant respite and the food doesn't have to be spicy. A lunch special of kebab and drink will set you back only $8.50. The meat is tender and chunky, not shaved and the salad is crunchy. Bliss Lunch for $8.99 includes rice, curry and pappadum. Light snacks for $2 include Garlic Naan, Spring Rolls and Spinach Bhaji. There's a good range for the sweet tooth made with chick peas, pistachio or coconut ice. Service is warm and friendly.
The scenic drive may take two and a half hours. To add an extra verdant drive and nature spotting, after leaving the Chocolate Cottage at Highfields, nip down to the James Byrne Centre following James Byrne Rd. Drive left past the centre down the dirt track. Locate the dirt carpark alcove. Stop the motor and wind the windows down. The bush adjacent to the road may just bless you with koala sounds, eg grunts, though only a real eagle eye will spot them.
If you can find your way home via Campbell St past the Botanic Gardens you can refresh your senses along the prettiest camphor laurel-lined street in Toowoomba.