Rangeville - Picnic Point Parklands

Friday, 05 Aug 2022 12:08

Address: 162-202 Tourist Road, Rangeville QLD 4350

rsz picnicpointgardens

A stunning, must-see location for visitors

Just a short drive from the city's CBD, the State heritage-listed Picnic Point Parklands provide breathtaking panoramic views eastward to Table Top Mountain and the Lockyer Valley. At night, the glow of Brisbane city lights can be seen from the iconic Picnic Point Lookout, perched high on the crest of the Great Dividing Range.

When entering the parklands, visitors are greeted by an avenue of mature hoop pine (Auracaria cunnninghamii) and South Queensland kauri pine (Agathis robusta) that leads to the manicured lawns and gardens of Picnic Point Square (also known as Flagpole Island). A short distance away, the sights and sounds of a magnificent waterfall, constructed using the natural fall of the land, captures attention. Surrounded by lush foliage and a feature gazebo, the waterfall area is a popular wedding ceremony destination.

For adventurous visitors, there is a series of walking trails along the escarpment that offer a variety of interesting places and lookout points to explore.

Enjoy a range of recreational facilities

  • multiple playground areas catering for younger and older children
  • licensed restaurant and cafe
  • picnic and barbecue facilities
  • lookouts and stunning views over the escarpment
  • bushwalking trails
  • waterfall and gardens
  • toilets
  • parking areas 

 

The Picnic Point Parklands is located in the Toowoomba suburb of Rangeville on the eastern range escarpment.

Parking is available in a number of locations throughout the Parklands:

  • Lions Park - designated car parks are located adjacent to the park on Tourist Road.
  • Heller Street Park - the car park is accessible from Heller Street and the Picnic Point ring road.
  • Picnic Point Park - you'll find car parking areas located at various points along the Picnic Point ring road (located at the most eastern end of Tourist Road).
  • Tobruk Memorial Drive Park - designated car parking spaces are located along Tobruk Memorial Drive which is accessible from the Picnic Point ring road and Heller Street.
  • Tobruk Memorial Lookout - the lookout is located at the end of Tobruk Memorial Drive. Parking is available along Tobruk Memorial Drive with some limited spaces including designated disability car parks and 10-minute parking available directly adjacent to the lookout.
  • South Street - direct access to the southern end of the Picnic Point trails is available via a parking area at the most eastern end of South Street as it turns into TableTop Drive.

View in Google Maps.

Download PDF map of the Parklands.

Dirt trail at Picnic Point with sun rising over the escarpment.

Firetail Walk (open)

Best for: Bushwalking

Classification: Grade 3

Distance: 2,120m one way with a 160m drop in altitude from Lions Park

Walking time: 45 minutes one way - downhill. Be aware that the walk back is uphill.

Description: The walk starts with a 160m drop in altitude from Lions Park and meanders down 2km through the escarpment vegetation, taking in views to the north and east across the Lockyer Valley and Table Top Mountain. Echidnas, legless lizards and small birds of prey can be seen. This walk finishes at the Bridle Trail. Be aware that the walk back is uphill.

Pardalote Walk (proceed with caution)

Best for: Bushwalking

Classification: Grade 3

Distance: 1,850m one way

Walking time: 45 minutes

Description: Pardalote Walk starts at Lions Park and passes by Bill Goulds Lookout and the waterfall before travelling along the edge of the escarpment through open eucalypt forest. The walk offers some spectacular views of the Lockyer Valley and Table Top Mountain and can also be accessed from Picnic Point Park or Tobruk Drive Park. This walk finishes at the end of South Street, 450m from the intersection with Fantail Walk.

Rainforest Gully Walking Circuit (open)

Best for: Bushwalking

Classification: Grade 3

Distance: 595 m

Walking time: 10 minutes

Description: The Rainforest Gully Walking Circuit is a short trail around a gully that features rainforest vegetation at Picnic Point Parklands.
This walking circuit starts at the Tobruk Memorial Drive about half way between the public toilet and the Bob Dodd Lookout. There is a carpark right in front of the start of the trail.
The circuit meanders through the rainforest and walkers have the choice to go back to the start point or continue their journey and do the bigger Tobruk Walking Circuit which includes the Bob Dodd Lookout.

Tobruk Walking Circuit (open)

Best for: Bushwalking

Classification: Grade 3

Distance: 1,507 m

Walking time: 30 minutes

Description: The Tobruk Walking Circuit is a trail that includes the short Rainforest Gully Walking Circuit and the Bob Dodd Lookout.
The easiest way to start this circuit is from the Tobruk Memorial Drive between the public toilet and the Bob Dodd Lookout.  Walking anti-clockwise the walk goes around a gully that features rainforest vegetation
and a couple of water crossings.  The trail then continues to the east towards the escarpment where spectacular views of the Lockyer Valley await.
The iconic Table Top Mountain can be observed from different angles and history can be read at the Bob Dodd viewing platform and walkway.
Walkers could otherwise start at the Bob Dodd Lookout going towards the Rainforest Gully and back.

Fantail Walk (open)

Best for: Bushwalking

Classification: Grade 3

Distance: 900m one way

Walking time: 35 minutes one way - downhill. Be aware that the walk back is uphill.

Description: This walk has a partial bitumen surface with stairs. With an 80m drop in altitude from Tobruk memorial Park, the walk explores the open forest on the south-eastern edge of Picnic Point. As a result, avid bird watchers will delight in the diversity of species along this walk. Fantail Walk connects the Picnic Point Bridle Trail with the Pardolote Walk. Be aware that the walk back is uphill.

Picnic Point Bridle Trail 

Best for: Bushwalking, mountain biking and horse riding

Classification: Grade 3, mountain biking (Easy), horse riding (Class 1 - Easy)

Distance: 1,560m one way

Walking time: 20 minutes

Description: The Bridle Trail extends from South Street to Stevenson Street. Walkers can access the Bridle Trail from Picnic Point Park by descending along either the Firetail Walk, the Fantail Walk, directly from Stevenson Street or from South Street.

Picnic Point Circuit (proceed with caution)

Best for: Bushwalking

Classification: Grade 3

Distance: 6,430m return

Walking time: I hour 40 minutes

Description: This walk is not for the faint-hearted. It combines the Firetail Walk, Pardalote Walk, Picnic Point Bridle Trail and Fantail Walk to provide a walking loop for those looking for an extra challenge of steepness. The rewards for those who take it on are dramatic scenic views. Keep in mind that when walking in either direction, you will descend and ascend with, approximately, a 160m change in altitude.

Useful resources

Picnic Point Parklands walking trails map

There are three designated lookout areas located within the Parklands.

Tobruk Memorial Drive Lookout 

Inspired by the area's Indigenous heritage, this lookout and the surrounding landscaped area and accessible pathways provide spectacular views of Table Top Mountain and the Lockyer Valley.

Learn about the historical significance of Table Top Mountain and the Picnic Point area and the Battle of One Tree Hill - one of the last major battles between traditional owners and European settlers in 1843.

You'll find the lookout at the end of Tobruk Memorial Drive. Car parking is available at various spots along Tobruk Memorial Drive with designated disability parks located directly adjacent to the lookout. The lookout is also accessible on foot from the top of Picnic Point via the Pardalote Walk trail. 

Looking down on the Picnic Point Tobruk Drive Memorial Lookout. Wooden boardwalk stretching out over the edge of the escarpment with stunning views of Table Top Mountain.

Picnic Point Lookout

Located at the highest point of Picnic Point Parklands near the cafe/restaurant area, this lookout area features a long, curved retaining wall that acts as a promenade for visitors to soak in the spectacular distant views and snap some sensational photos. A directional plaque housed on a stone plinth, a paved area, manicured lawns and gardens also forms part of the parkland environs. 

Picnic Point lookout at sunrise looking out towards Table Top Mountain

Lions Park Lookout

This viewing platform provides uninterrupted views over the range towards the Lockyer Valley. Located near the waterfall between the Firetail Walk and Pardalote Walk trails.

Address: 2c Rowbotham Street, Rangeville QLD 4350

Central to the parklands, Picnic Point Square features the Q150 flag pole, a gazebo, an extensive children's play area - situated under the cover of large trees, and numerous picnic facilities. Amenities are conveniently located at Heller Street Park (opposite Picnic Point Square).

In springtime, the area is awash with colourful flowers and reverberates with the musical sounds of Council's Summer Tunes program and other community events.

Aerial photo of Picnic Point flagpole amongst large mature trees.

Flowers and flagpole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Address: 2-4 Heller Street, Rangeville QLD 4350

Tobruk Drive Park is a natural, bushland area adjacent to Picnic Point Park. It's a popular tourist drive and close to a number of walking tracks, barbecue and picnic areas with scenic lookouts.

tobruk drive

Address: 162-164 Tourist Road, Rangeville QLD 4350

Lions Park is located north of Tourist Road and is considered part of Picnic Point Parklands. It has a mix of play equipment for children and young people including a practice tennis wall and exciting climbing structures including a giant octopus! The rocket ship is nowadays only for display and not for play. Happy Harry Train Rides for young children run during the warmer months from midday to 3pm each Sunday (weather permitting). Participants can provide a gold coin donation for this service which goes to the Lions Club

Also accessible from this area is an attractive garden setting with a waterfall and circular gazebo (see Waterfall and gardens section). Close by, The Bill Goulds lookout provides stunning views over the valley. The lookout's namesake Bill Goulds was Toowoomba West Lions Club Lions Club president, and later deputy district governor, in the 1960s. A plaque installed in his honour reads: "Dedicated to his service to Lionsism and his establishment of this park. A project of Lions Club of Tmba West Inc. Opened 1/6/91".

Along with shaded picnic facilities, barbecues, picnic tables and a shelter, this park also provides access to some attractive walks through the Picnic Point Bushland Reserve.

Rocket ship slide at Lions Park

Address: Rowbotham Street, Rangeville QLD, 4350 (the playground and barbecue areas are located on the Heller street side of the park.)

Heller Street Park is a popular location for families and birthday parties. With many features including off-street car parking, gas barbecues, large gazebos, picnic tables, toilet amenities, some lighting, and a range of varied play opportunities for children, the park hosts a great fun day out for all ages. Additionally, plenty of open space allows for kick-about activities. There's also a Scout hall located right next door.

picnicpointchildrensplaygroundhellerstreetpark

Another popular area of Picnic Point Parklands is the tranquil waterfall area. The waterfall was constructed in 1965 from the former quarry platform site and lookout which provided panoramic views of the valley. Since then, mass plantings of trees and shrubs have created a rainforest-type experience for visitors with large stepping stones at the base of the waterfall creating a peaceful pond area.

waterfall picnic point

picnicpt feb09 004 2

An enclosed lawn area rolls out to the west of the waterfall and, along with a decorative gazebo at its centre, creates a popular space for intimate wedding ceremonies. Please see our Booking parks section for more information on how to book the waterfall and garden area for a wedding ceremony.

Another popular visitor activity is to picnic in this location and then set off on a scenic bushwalk to the upper lookout area.

Picnic Point Parklands are one of Toowoomba's oldest public recreation areas. Its origins can be traced back to 1885 when the 38-acre reserve (R379) was declared for recreation purposes for the growing town.  As the Toowoomba township grew there was growing interest to preserve the area for public use to be held in public trust by the Toowoomba Municipal Council.  The first addition to the reserve was made in 1902 with the Toowoomba City Council purchasing six acres, with further expansions and reservations made over the following decades. 

During the reserve's history there were grazing and quarrying leases on the land, with the last of these ending in 1959. The reserve had also been used for camping from as early as 1919 with a boy scout troop holding an Easter camp there.  As was common during the great depression of the 1930s, facilities at Picnic Point were updated using relief labour. During the war years, the Australian Army moved into the parklands and took over the kiosk. They left the grounds in 1942 and returned them to public use namely for camping purposes and Sunday School outings. 

Throughout its history, the parklands have been a popular public recreation and scenic location for the Toowoomba Region and continue to form part of Toowoomba's identity as a destination bestowed with beautiful natural landscapes, parks and gardens.

  

‘We are extremely anxious that this beautiful piece of land should be secured in such a manner as to remain an appendage to this town for the enjoyment of future generations’ (Excerpt from a petition of the townsfolk to protect Picnic Point Park in 1888).

The local community has played a vital part in the establishment of the park with several groups and organisations being directly involved in the concept design and construction of features within the park.

Lions Clubs

Throughout the history of the Picnic Point Parklands, the Lions Clubs of Toowoomba have been instrumental in its development by clearing, planting trees and constructing and maintaining features. These include:

  • Creation of an arboretum (1957), Lions Club of Toowoomba Inc.
  • Establishment of the Lions Park and playground under the guidance of Bill Goulds (1966), Lions Club of Toowoomba West Inc.
  • Construction of the Bill Goulds Lookout (1991), named after the long-time founding member of the Lions Club of Toowoomba West Inc.

Carnival of Flowers Association

Early 1965, the Carnival of Flowers Association proposed to construct a Waterfall at the quarry face, and right in time for Carnival Week the new feature was opened in September 1965 with a lookout later added at the top.

Rotary Clubs

The combined Rotary Clubs of Toowoomba celebrated their 75th Anniversary with the installation of a Rock Garden. Rotary Club of Toowoomba East constructed the Bob Dodd Lookout at the eastern end of Tobruk Memorial Drive. The Lookout, officially opened in 1990, was named in honour of Bob Dodd, a founding member of the club.

Scouts and Girl Guides

Picnic Point was used as a camp ground by Scout groups from Rangeville and also by others like Brisbane school kids. In 1956, the Rangeville Scouts constructed a den at the park which was extended over time. Before establishing their own hut, the Girl Guides would share the Scouts Den or meet under the Gum trees.

1 Lions Park c1970

Riding the train at Lions Park, c1970
Copyright: Pinterest, contributed by Sam Harrison

Carnival Falls, c.1965,

Carnival Falls, c.1965, Toowoomba Library
Copyright: Contact: libinfo@toowoombarc.qld.gov.au

 

  

The tree-lined avenue of Tourist Road is located to the south-west of Picnic Point providing the main entrance to the parklands. It follows the original track along the edge of the Range from the late 19th century. Through the careful planning by Toowoomba’s Botanical Gardens curators over time, the road has turned into the ‘noble thoroughfare’ it once was envisaged to become. The road was first recorded as ‘Tourists Road’ in 1909, when it was evidently a crudely formed and unsealed road. It is believed that the avenue of alternate Hoop Pines (Araucaria cunninghamii) and Kauri Pines (Agathis robusta) were planted by R.R. Harding, the well-respected curator of the Botanical Gardens from 1910 to 1917. Under his guidance further ornamental trees were added to the park in 1913.

In 1932, curator J.J. Leadbetter, planned a series of Jacaranda and Silky Oak trees to run parallel with the Hoop and Kauri Pines providing additional shade. J.R. Baily, who came from a family of renowned botanists in Queensland and South Australia, was the curator from 1940 to 1946, when he was appointed to the Brisbane Botanical Gardens. Under his guidance further beautification of Tourist Road was carried out including the addition of hoop pines along the eastern side in 1941.

Hoop and Kauri Pines on Tourist Road

Hoop and Kauri Pines on Tourist Road.

Copyright: Toowoomba Regional Council Library (PF3989 Toowoomba - Streets - Tourist Rd)

  

The Scouts discovered the site from the early 1910s as a campground and in the following years the grounds were well used by the group and also provided a home for school camps. In 1919, the Children’s Welfare Association and the Education Department of Queensland set up a camp near the kiosk for Brisbane students to benefit their health and to awaken an interest ‘in nature studies and other matters’. The camp consisted of eight tents including an isolation camp, and a ‘science’ kitchen complete with professional cook. The visitors were treated to sports activities and excursions and enjoyed country hospitality from the community including the local school, Scouts group, businesses and Council.

The members of the RACQ also used the site and after some lobbying by the group, Toowoomba City Council agreed to establish a camping reserve for club members at Picnic Point in 1928. Camping facilities were improved with the construction of a brick fireplace and provision of water, while the nearby kiosk offered firewood for purchase. The site proved very popular indeed, and by 1936, the kiosk lessee complained about the ‘invasion of campers’ by mostly unemployed men with large families, with only very few tourists or RACQ club members. Council undertook improvements to the site including levelling of the terrain using relief labour, a common practice during the Depression years in the 1930s.

From April 1942 until December 1943, the Australian Army took over the lease for the kiosk and the nearby camp area of Picnic Point Park. After the Army’s departure, the camp areas were returned for public use which also included picnics and Sunday School excursions.

School boys at the camp in picnic point 1919

 

School boys tent at the camp in picnic point 1919 

School boys at the camp in Picnic Point in 1919

Copyright: Darling Downs Gazette, 16 September 1919, p6.

  

Taking in the spectacular views from this high vantage point across the landscape is one of the major features of Picnic Point Parklands. Over time the area at the Lookout Terrace has evolved from ‘a refreshment pavilion and cab stand’ as described in 1914 to a master planned site.

In 1921, the first permanent kiosk was constructed, and Toowoomba City Council added another feature to enhance the visitors’ experience with the installation of the first lookout. The structure consisted of a platform cantilevered over the escarpment affording views to Table top Mountain and across the Lockyer valley.

‘This view stretches away to the New South Wales border, and it is a sight that always moves. Every time it is visited there seems to be something fresh, and no traveller can claim to have seen this country until he has stood on Picnic Point and looked over this most wonderful panorama.’ (Excerpt from Toowoomba tourist publication, 1946)

Over time the area has been modified, often in connection with the restructure and rebuilding of the kiosk. These improvements included pathways, landscaping and the installation of the Kodak plinth.

I have seen many beautiful views and panoramas in Switzerland, Canada and elsewhere, but I have never seen anything better than this.’ The Marquis of Salisbury, 1926.

Viewing Platform colour Recovered

The “Look-out” at Picnic Point, c1928
Copyright: TRC Library Photograph Collection PF3625.

View from lower level of lookout terrace 1959 

View from lower level of Lookout Terrace, 1959.
Copyright: Queensland Places, ‘Toowoomba’

Lookout terrace and former kiosk 1970s

Lookout Terrace and second Kiosk, 1970s.
Copyright: TRC Library Photograph Collection PF3742

  

To protect the spectacular views and provide the free use of the land for recreational purpose were conditions of the lease of land for the first substantial

kiosk built in 1921. The timber building had a terracotta tiled roof with decorative gables and was embellished with scroll finials. An enclosed verandah with rows of sash windows wrapped around the side featuring decorative timberwork. The kiosk, costing £1,850, included a dance hall and residence and reflected the style of the era.

Two German field guns, war trophies captured by the Australian Mounted Division in Palestine in c1918, were installed near the kiosk in c1920. The guns formed the backdrop in many photos until their removal in 1947.

Following several alterations over time, the original kiosk was replaced with a new building in 1958. Toowoomba City Council had received a £12,000 loan from the State Government to finance the new kiosk designed by City Architect L.Grienfel. The modernist building followed the contour of the landscape and featured exposed brick and stone walls, a sloped roof and expansive glass areas affording views over the Range. The second kiosk was extended several times and after being damaged by fire in 1976, it was remodelled in 1978 to include a modern restaurant.

In 1988, Council called tenders ‘for the redevelopment of the existing Picnic Point restaurant incorporating catering and tourist facilities’. The development proposals received in response sparked a public debate about the future of Picnic Point and resulted in the formation of groups such as the Picnic Point Preservation Group. The current kiosk was opened in 1996 and extended in 1999.

original kiosk 

Original Kiosk at Picnic Point, c.1930s.
Copyright: Toowoomba Regional Council Library

2 original kiosk copy

Original Kiosk with WWI trophy gun, 1940s.
Copyright: Toowoomba Regional Council Library

second kiosk

Second Kiosk at Picnic Point, c.1972.
Copyright: Toowoomba Regional Council Library

second kiosk2

Second Kiosk at Picnic Point, after expansion, c.1974.
Copyright: Toowoomba Regional Council Library

  

The Toowoomba office of Kodak Australasia Proprietary Ltd approached the Toowoomba City Council in June 1930 requesting permission to erect a cairn at Picnic Point to indicate the names and direction of numerous geographical landmarks that are visible from the point.

The Kodak Compass, located on Lookout Terrace, was subsequently erected by December 1930. It is constructed of oxidised brass mounted on a concrete pedestal. The compass was provided for the convenience of visitors who wish to know the names of the more prominent features of the landscape to be seen from this point of vantage. The places are shown by means of lines and distances from Picnic Point.

Locations shown include Brisbane, Warwick, Helidon, Lowood, Sugarloaf, Mount Perseverance, Crow's Nest, Mount Edwards, Richmond's Gap, Tambourine, Cunningham's Gap, Mount Lindsay, Mount Alford and Mount Mistake.

On the 22nd December 1930, the Kodak Compass was formally handed over by Mr I. Howarth, manager of the Toowoomba branch of the Kodak Company, and accepted by the Mayor (Aid. F. J. Paterson) on behalf of the Toowoomba City Council.

1 kodak compass small

Picnic Point, with the Kodak Compass shown at the left.

Copyright: Toowoomba Regional Council Library
Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs Gazette

 

kodak compass 

Kodak Compass in foreground with original kiosk seen at the rear, c.1952.

Copyright: Toowoomba Regional Council Library
Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs Gazette

  

Picnic Point’s unique water tower is located to the west of the kiosk and visually dominates the built environment of the parklands. The 10-metre water tower, designed by engineer Jack Farr, is topped by a 5-metre-high reinforced concrete, pre-tensioned cone with a diameter of 15 metres. The distinctive “mushroom” water tower was completed in September 1966 at a final cost of just under $38,000. Three years later the contractor, Textor Constructions, was granted permission by Council to attach a plaque to the water tank. The plaque reads ‘Designed by Toowoomba City Council. Built by Textor Constructions Pty Ltd. Toowoomba.’ The purpose of the water tower was to ensure adequate water pressure to residents along the Range and Middle Ridge. Provision for illuminating the water tower was included in the 1966/67 Council budget. The proposal was for floodlights to highlight the stem and underside of the conical tank floor. The City Engineer wrote of this “quite novel and attractive” proposal, that the illuminated structure would be visible from the top of the Minden Range as a T shape, and it would bathe the kiosk in a ‘soft reflected light’. By 1987 the tower was floodlit, making it one of Toowoomba’s prominent night-time landmarks.

water tower 

Kiosk and water tower at Picnic Point, Toowoomba, ca. 1975.
Copyright: Toowoomba Regional Council Library (PF3721 Toowoomba - Picnic Point)

 

water tower by night

The Water Tower at Picnic Point at night (Murray Views Collection).
Copyright: Queensland Places, ‘Toowoomba’; Murray Views Collection

  

To the north-west of the Kodak Compass is a bronze statue of a Pomeranian dog called ‘Puppy’. This memorial to the mascot of the Toowoomba Thistle Pipe Band, was sculpted by Vernon Foss in 1959, a German-born stone mason and artist, and cast in bronze at the Toowoomba Foundry.

Puppy who belonged to the drum major of the Toowoomba Thistle Pipe Band, Hugh Morgan, was adopted as the band mascot in 1948. Dressed in a rug showing the band’s tartan pattern, he led the band in parades including the Carnival of Flowers parade for ten years. Sadly he was killed in a traffic accident in 1958. In October 1959 the Toowoomba Thistle Pipe Band requested permission of the Toowoomba City Council to erect a memorial in his honour. The cost of £250 for the statue, plus the cost of constructing a suitable base, was funded by public subscriptions. The bronze memorial 'Puppy' was unveiled on February 28, 1960 to a crowd of 500 people. The memorial was originally installed closer to the kiosk before being moved to its current location. The statue of Puppy has been ‘dognapped’ twice in the past; thankfully it was recovered on both occasions, once retrieved from far away as Coolangatta.

Puppy picnic point

The Puppy, c.1960s.
Copyright: Toowoomba Regional Council Library (archives record number 203618).

puppy leading the toowoomba thistle pipe band 

Puppy leading the Toowoomba Thistle Pipe Band in the Carnival of Flowers parade, date unknown.
Copyright: Sam Harrison

  

In 2009, to mark Queensland’s 150th Birthday, Premier Anna Bligh unveiled 150 icons as voted by the public to symbolise what makes Queensland unique.

These were grouped into 10 categories:

  1. State-shapers
  2. Artists
  3. Sports legends
  4. Locations
  5. Natural attractions
  6. Built structures
  7. Defining moments
  8. Innovations and inventions
  9. Events and festivals
  10. Typical behaviour and traditions

Picnic Point Parkland is connected to three icons; the Great Dividing Range and the Darling Downs (location) and the Carnival of Flowers (event).

To mark Queensland’s separation from New South Wales in 1859, a monument and flagpole reaching 150 foot high (nearly 46 metres) was erected at Picnic Point. Known as the ‘Q150 flagpole’, the structure was officially unveiled on Australia Day 2009. Generally, the Australian flag is flown, measuring 12m by 6m and as only one flag can be displayed at a time, the Queensland flag is hoisted on special occasions, for example on Queensland Day, June 6.

A further Q150 marker, located at the lookout, is dedicated to 150 years of surveying in Queensland. A Trigonometrical Survey Station existed at Picnic Point Park between 1883 and 1891 and was part of an ambitious plan to establish a system to survey the whole state of Queensland ending in 1891 due to a lack of funding.

carnival of flowers 

Carnival of Flowers is held each year in September. Image from 1968 Carnival of Flowers.
Copyright: TRC Photographic Library, Carnival of Flowers winning float 1968, no reference number

The Q150 flagpole Picnic Point Square Toowoomba small

Q150 flagpole standing 150 foot tall (46 metres) to celebrate Queensland’s 150th birthday
Copyright: monumentaustralia.org.au

  

The Camera Obscura was located close to the top of the waterfall and was a major feature of Picnic Point Park for several years. It reportedly attracted up to 600 people daily when it first opened in 1967 and claimed to be the world’s only wholly rotating camera obscura. Camera obscuras became an attraction in Australia from the 1850s. Queensland’s first camera obscura was installed on White Hill in Brisbane in 1891 consisting of a lens, periscope and mirror reflecting panoramic views onto a saucer-shaped bowl with plaster-of-Paris surface. The operator would rotate the periscope and tilt the mirror to shift the view from foreground to the distance.

The Picnic Point Camera Obscura provided a view stretching from Tabletop Mountain to the city projected on to a circular table-like screen, five feet in diameter, accompanied by a detailed commentary. The circular timber building with adjoining brick ticket office was constructed by William (Bill) Lowe. It consisted of white pine with angle iron reinforced joints, around 15 to 16 feet in diameter, prefabricated in Toowoomba and assembled on site. The building could accommodate 30 people at one time. The attraction closed permanently in early 1990 and was sold and removed in June 1996.

camera obscura 

View to the Camera Obscura Building (Murray Views Collection)
Copyright: National Library of Australia

 Camera obscura 1995 

Camera Obscura Building, 1995 (taken by Glenn Rees)
Copyright: Queensland Places, ‘Toowoomba’

schematic of a camera obscura copy

Schematic of a Camera Obscura, c1890.

Copyright: Camera Obscura: Optic Projection: Principles, Installation and Use of the Magic Lantern, Projection Microscope, Reflecting Lantern, Moving Picture Machine, by Simon Henry Gage and Henry Phelps Gage, Ph.D. Ithaca, New York, Comstock Publishing Company. 1914. page 167

  

Other name: Eastern Highlands

  • Length: More than 3500 kilometres
  • Width: From 160km to over 300km
  • Height: Mount Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains (NSW) is the highest peak with 2,228m
  • Elevation of Picnic Point Lookout: 710m
  • Extent: Runs from the northern tip of Queensland along the eastern coastline of Queensland and New South Wales, to Victoria and to the Grampians in western Victoria.
  • Age: estimated to be over 300 million years old (Carboniferous period)
  • Birth: Through the collision of Australia (as part of the super continent Gondwana) with what is today South America and New Zealand resulting in erupting volcanic lava forming the volcanic mountain chain along the edge of the continent.
  • Heritage Value: Includes three World Heritage areas – the Wet Tropics (QLD), the Gondwana Rainforests (NSW) and the Greater Blue Mountains (NSW).
  • Provides: 
    • Climate conditions: Orographic precipitation caused by the sharp rise between coast and uplands leads to moist air on the upwind side of the mountain and drier conditions on the downwind side, creating two distinct climates.
    • Water: The Great Dividing Range is the main source of fresh water for all of eastern Australia, through run-offs (rainwater) caught in dams and also through the Great Artesian Basin, an enormous underground water reservoir deep beneath the ground mainly in Queensland.

great dividing range 

View of Table Top Mountain and the Great Dividing Range from Picnic Point.
Copyright: wikimedia

great dividing range 2

Looking down from the Great Dividing Range towards the Lockyer Valley from Picnic Point.
Copyright: wikimedia

  

This is the traditional land of the Western Wakka Wakka speaking communities – the Wakkaburra* who were also known as:

  • Gooneburra* meaning ‘fire people’ due the massive region-wide seasonal burns they conducted.
  • Barrumgum*, derived from barungga* ‘rat kangaroo,’ common around Jimbour and Dalby.
  • Warmga*, Bunyinni* or Jarowai*r meaning ‘those who give’ or ‘bunya people’, referring to hosting the bunya festival.

The group consisted of four classes: Balkuin*, Barang*, Dherwain* and Bonda*, from which some of their personal names were derived (hence Uncle Bunda Darlo).

Picnic Point offered a diverse cornucopia of Aboriginal resources: basalt from the ‘cap’ of the Toowoomba escarpment for mujum* (axes), sandstone for mortars, and murun* - ochres and clays for art and healing. Aboriginal groups traded raw materials as well as stone tools, with the escarpment forming a notable ‘boundary’ between tool types.

Aboriginal food sources from this towrie* (resource area) included:

Gadabi* (Tuber of Sweet Susie - Canthium odoratum), gurun gurun (Kurrajong - Brachychiton populneus), bandujn* (Paddy melon - Cucumis myriocarpus), Nut Lilly (Hyposis hygrometrica), Brush cherries (Exocarpos cupressiformis), Lilly-pilly berries (Syzygium australe), Moreton Bay figs (Ficus macrophylla), Fringed violet (Thysanotus tuberosus) and Native leek (Bulbinopsis bulbosa). Wawun* (Scrub turkey - Alectura lathami), binur* (Bandicoot - Peramelemorphia), gawar* (Echidna - Tachyglossus aculeatus), gawan* (garan) (Possum - Pseudocheirus peregrinus), baduin* (Native mouse - Melomys sp.) and gliders, parrots and quails.

*Local Aboriginal name.

Uncle Bunda Darlo

Uncle Bunda Darlo
Copyright: Prepared by Dr Ray Kerkhove in consultation with the Western Wakka Wakka People.

  

‘Picnic Point’ is named after school and church picnics held here during the 1860s. In 1868, a local petition protected this popular lookout by forming Queensland’s earliest Town Common across the escarpment. This maintained bushland and communal pasture for sheep and cattle. In 1877, one of Queensland’s’ first bird reserves was declared over a portion of Picnic Point. Soon (1885-1913) the Reserve attained its current form.

Toowoomba escarpment is a diverse environment. Unique or vulnerable species such as Helidon Hills Ironbark (Eucalyptus Taurina), four-tailed grevillea (Grevillea quadricauda), black-breasted button quails (Turnix melanogaster), goshawks (Erythrotriorchis radiatus) and jingun* (quolls - Dasyurus hallucatus and maculatus maculatus) can be found here. From late winter to spring, cliffs blossom with mumar* (silver wattle - Acacia dealbata), grevillea and boronia.

Picnic Point had permanent springs, Aboriginal camps, Aboriginal art sites and pathways. It sits between some of the most significant passes of Queensland’s past: the Toll Bar Road, Hodgson’s Pass and Gorman’s Gap. These were the first and main transport routes between western Queensland and Brisbane. From 1827 to 1843, seven expeditions searched for easy passage to the Darling Downs through here, igniting conflict between settlers and Aboriginal communities that continued into the 1850s.

camp on the escarpment copy

Camp on the escarpment ('Toowoomba ranges') in early 1880s
Copyright: Negative 68997, John Oxley collection

 

  

You are looking across a landscape held sacred by many Aboriginal groups. According to Aboriginal tradition, the hills here were Banda – Protectors. The Great Dividing Range escarpment was shaped by journeys of the Carpet Snake, and ‘Cloud-catcher’ mountains, which included Meeba* (Table Top Mountain) and Wandoyawah* (Mount Davidson). Contrasting air masses meet along the escarpment, forming mists, rain, and hailstorms. Mountains ‘catch’ the clouds, generating streams that feed Urarrar* (Bremer River) and Waiwar* (Brisbane River). 

Meeba (‘seeing-place’), also known as Gerel-gerel* (‘Sacred Bone’), and Wandoyawah* were Dreamtime brothers who competed in catching clouds, to woo the Woomba Woomba* (Toowoomba) woman Lali. When Meeba eloped with Lali, Wandoyawah struck off his opponent’s head, which rolled as a boulder to the foot of Bangbeergobah*, a mountain facing Yabarba* (Helidon). Thus Meeba became a ‘flat-topped’ mountain. Lali’s container of ‘moon waters’ tipped over, drowning her and flooding the valleys below – especially Woo-urra-jim-igh* (‘the place where the clouds fell down’). This is Helidon Spa, one of Australia’s two only natural spas - a place of healing and rejuvenation. The valleys had ‘moon waters’ - flash floods when the moon was pink. These were both devastating and beneficial, bringing fertile soils and diverse stone.

*Local Aboriginal name.

great dividing range

View of Table Top Mountain and the Great Dividing Range from Picnic Point.
Copyright: wikimedia

 

 

Useful link:

Picnic Point Parklands walking trails map

 

Features

Playground
BBQ
Picnic tables
Shelter
Toilets
Park bench
Gardens
Lookout
Walking
Open space
Bush walking
Memorial
Water feature
Canteen
Parking
Drinking water

Map