Dating back to the 19th century, one of Brisbane's largest landowners James Toohey ensured the Toohey Forest bushland would be retained for residents to enjoy and spared from suburban development through his will. In 1893, the State Government of the day then gifted the reserve to the local residents. To learn more about the social history of the Toohey forest, you can read the book published by Griffith University titled "An Island in Suburbia".
I enjoy going for bushwalks at Toohey Forest due to its close proximity and location smacked in the middle of Mt Gravatt. I can go for a calming exercise in the morning and then head to nearby Westfield Garden City for afternoon shopping and a quick lunch at the foodcourt. If you are a student at Griffith University, the forest is also a perfect solace from the world of books and knowledge.
I find the walk moderate but challenging enough with its hilly terrain. Its unique charm is due to its rich variety of bird species and 400 native species of flora and fauna, seeking refuge from the modern and developed surroundings. Native wildlife includes sugar and squirrel gliders, rainbow lorikeets, goannas, ringtail and brushtail possums and tawny frogmouths.
The bush tracks are not easy to explore on your own due to lack of trail maps along the way and its large size of about 260 hectares but you can always get directions or help from the many students using the forest as a shortcut to get to campus. There are also trail guides and maps for some of the more popular walks available from the EcoCentre, BCC libraries and council offices.
If you decide to take an impromptu visit to the Toohey Forest and find yourself not adequately prepared with maps, don't fret. I have explored the trails without a trail guide in the past which was fine due to modern technology. Although we were in the middle of the forest, there was mobile reception to use my GPS function on my Smartphone. In fact, I managed to text a friend and receive a phone call from a bank representative whilst enjoying my exercise in the middle of the forest.
There are picnic areas available to enjoy with the family as well as a trail leading out to the spectacular 360-degree view of Brisbane and surrounding suburbs at the Mt Gravatt Lookout. There are clear signs up to the Lookout where you can relax at the restaurant at the top.
Take something to drink as the only water is at the trail heads or the University campus and toilets are only available at the Nathan and the Mt Gravatt campuses. Carparks are available at the university. To get there, take the telegraph track from Mt. Gravatt Central. You can also get there from Klumpp Road by heading via the water reservoirs.
The forest is maintained by a Natural Area Management team appointed by The Brisbane City Council. The rangers are responsible for community education about the forest and the administration of local laws so keep your dogs on a leash and ensure that litter is placed in their proper bins.