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ESCAPE

WHY THE

WEST

IS COOL

24

| BNE May/June 2017

Toowoomba is the gateway to

Queensland’s fertile southern country

farmland, but a community with a

creative spirit is also flourishing

T

oowoomba has long been known as Queensland’s

Garden City, home to the annual Carnival of Flowers

that announces spring every year with a festival of

flora, food and entertainment that lasts for 10 days and draws

visitors from across the state.

It’s also one of the state’s coolest cities – and not just because

temperatures can plummet to below 10°C in winter (record lows have

seen that drop below -4°C). The city is now the largest outdoor ‘art

gallery’ in Queensland, displaying 57 murals which have rejuvenated

laneways and streetscapes into thriving social hubs.

Local artists Ian McCallum and Grace Dewar, co-directors of local

creative space Kontraband Studios, have been instrumental in the

change, organising Queensland’s first street art festival ‘First Coat’

three years ago in conjunction with Toowoomba Regional Council. So

far the festival has attracted some of Australia’s leading graffiti artists

such as Sofles, Fintan Magee, Matt Adnate and Vans the Omega as

well as others from the US, Netherlands, UK, New Zealand and Italy,

and more will feature in this year’s festival from 19 to 21 May.

While the city has not lost any of its country charm, it has found a

new lease on life as businesses utilise previously overlooked spaces in

the heart of the city, providing a colourful backdrop to a flourishing

café and bar culture.

First Coat’s map of murals (see online at

www.firstcoat.com.au)

provides an ideal guide for a walking tour of Toowoomba’s inner city,

turning up hidden gems such as Ground Up Espresso on the colourful

Searles Walk (just off Ruthven Street). What started as a storeroom

espresso bar is now a favourite local haunt for all-day breakfast and

delicious pastries washed down with a Toby’s Estate brew.

Lindra and Josh Budeman also started small, with a food stall at

a local festival which was so successful they decided to take the leap

to open a permanent diner in Club Lane (off Margaret Street). The

pair, who moved to Toowoomba from Melbourne, transformed

a nondescript warehouse into Skewers where they serve up their

signature Indonesian street food accompanied by local wines, craft

beers and cider.

Bis mi, quatatium cullam

eum et que nat qui

niametur? Qui cus acit,

culpa quiam a parunti

Ground Up Espresso

Brews of the Granite Belt

The 3rd Monkey

Spotted Cow

Street art by Adnate

Words: Nathan Hall and Heather McWhinnie