Architecture Nature
The Darling Downs – Weekend Road Trip From Brisbane
February 2, 2017
, ,
Sunflower fields along the Sunflower Route

Having passed through the Darling Downs previously, I knew there were wonderful wineries, abundant berries, delicious apples, and scenic lavender farms. This visit, with summer timing and closer inspection, I found some unexpected inspiration along the way. My drive to Warwick and beyond surprised me with sunflower fields, heritage architecture, pop culture and beautiful waterfalls, all on a weekend road trip from Brisbane.

Living in a country different from the one you grew up in gives you a whole new perspective on your homeland. It’s easy to get lazy when you’re at home and put off exploring new places to another day, because they will always be there right? Then a time comes when you might move away as I have, both interstate and international, and each time you start recalling a mental list of all the things you didn’t get around to doing and seeing. This inspired me to set a goal of travelling once a month, even just a weekend drive somewhere I haven’t been in my local area yet.

In 2016, I successfully fulfilled my goal eleven out of twelve months. I began 2017 at home in Australia after 18 months away. A trip home for me always means a tour of the Australian east coast visiting family and friends. It usually involves time spent in Sydney, then travelling north to Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast at a minimum. This holiday, a little extra time and a happy coincidence took me further west to the Darling Downs region, a farming area that extends westward from the inland side of the Great Dividing Range.

Warwick - Roses and Heritage Architecture

I first learnt that Warwick claims the title of “Australia’s Rose and Rodeo Capital.” The rodeo is apparently one of the oldest in the country, and the rose gardens are stunning. The red Arafuto rose was cultivated as a symbol of the town. Another delightful surprise was the heritage architecture, with a variety of styles represented. Stand-outs are the sandstone government buildings and classic Queenslander (Tropical Federation) style homes.

While in Warwick, I also stopped into the local Art Gallery and discovered the Reminiscence exhibit, a collaboration between mixed media artist Fiona Rafferty and ceramicist Frances Smith. The exhibit pays tribute to the work of writer, poet and environmentalist Judith Wright. The works feature Australia’s endangered species.

Warwick Post Office
Warwick Post Office designed by government architect A.B. Brady, opened in 1898
Warwick Post Office
Warwick Post Office from the side, with stunning key hole shape arcaded verandah, and lanterned cupola over the main entrance
Criterion Hotel, Warwick
The Criterion Hotel, is a two-storey brick hotel constructed in 1917 with details including iron lace, parapets, and stained glass
Abbey of the Roses, Warwick
Abbey of the Roses built in 1893, once Our Lady of Assumption Convent, is now a private residence and boutique accommodation
Warwick Town Hall, Queensland, Australia
Warwick's sandstone townhall, opened in 1888
Arafuto Rose mosaic
Arafuto Rose mosaic at the entrance of Warwick's Town Hall, is the work of Alain and Kate Colfs
Pringle Cottage, Warwick, Queensland
Pringle Cottage housed a private school run by Mrs F.S. Pringle and her daughter from 1898 to at least 1905
Pringle Cottage, Warwick, Queensland, Australia
The vintage, rose embellished knob on the Pringle Cottage front gate
Roses of Warwick, Queensland
Roses of Warwick, Queensland
Roses of Warwick, Queensland
Vases by ceramicist Frances Smith at the Warwick Art Gallery | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Vases by ceramicist Frances Smith at the Warwick Art Gallery
Work by mixed media artist Fiona Rafferty, Warwick Art Gallery | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Work by mixed media artist Fiona Rafferty, Warwick Art Gallery

Allora - Sunflowers and Mary Poppins

I stopped into little Allora to see the home of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, who lived in the beautifully maintained Federation home from 1905-1907. The home named Mary Poppins House, is privately owned, so appointments are necessary to take a tour of the interior. My visit was too impromptu for bookings, but I have a couple of exterior photos to share. The home is a short walk from the former Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney building that caught my attention with its uniquely beautiful Federation brick exterior with white trim and stained glass. This would be where Travers’ father, a bank manager, would have worked while they lived in the town.

On the road between Allora and Warwick I stopped to admire large fields of sunflowers, that were in the height of their summer bloom. A few days of heatwave sun, and they were looking a little droopy, but still an amazing sight en masse.

Mary Poppins House, Allora, Queensland, Australia
Mary Poppins House, Allora
Mary Poppins House, Allora, Queensland, Australia
The rose framed, front gate of Mary Poppins House, Allora
Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney Building, Allora
Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney Building, Allora
Silos and sunflowers, Allora, Queensland
Silos and sunflowers, Allora, Queensland
A close up of a sunflower's disc flowers
A close up of a sunflower's disc flowers
Cockatoo in the sunflowers, Warwick, Australia
Cockatoo in the sunflowers
Sunflowers, Allora, Queensland | Duende by Madam ZoZo

Killarney - Waterfalls and Lookouts

Just outside the old timber and dairy town of Killarney, named by Irish settlers, is a short drive that links a number of places of interest. As I follow the route that climbs the western edge of the Great Dividing Range the waterfalls get more dramatic and views more majestic, culminating at Carr’s Lookout.

A Space For Contemplation sculpture, Australia
Brown's Falls is the first stop, here I also found the sculpture "A Space for Contemplation"
A Space For Contemplation Plaque
Queen Mary Falls, Queensland, Australia
Queen Mary Falls
Australian bush
Native bush views while discovering waterfalls on foot
Queensland countryside
View from Carrs Lookout
View from Carrs Lookout

Go adventuring and you’ll be amazed at what you find, even in a place that feels overly familiar.

Peace, love & inspiring travels,

Madam ZoZo

Duende on the Darling Downs | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Duende on the Darling Downs | Duende by Madam ZoZo

About author

Madam ZoZo

Hi! I'm Madam ZoZo, aka Zoë, an Australian designer, creative consultant, blogger and digital nomad. I'm passionate about travel, design, dance and new experiences that fuel my creativity. I strive to travel in a style that is gentle on the earth and that contributes to the communities I visits, even if it is merely to take away a greater understanding of a different culture. Duende by Madam ZoZo, is where I share the stories of my travels and the duende (soul/inspiration) I find along the way.


Top Tips for Visiting Teotihuacan – Ancient City of Mystery

Top tips for visiting Teotihuacan, the mysterious ...

Read more
Chapultepec Castle

Chapultepec Castle: A Mexico City Must-See

Having passed through the Darling Downs previously...

Read more
Round vaulted hallways of Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary – An Eerily Photogenic Experience

Having passed through the Darling Downs previously...

Read more

There are 2 comments

  • Helen Stevens says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey to the Darling Downs. Really enjoyed it.
    You are absolutely correct in saying we often take our local and familiar surroundings for granted. These beautiful places are familiar to me but your photographic skills give them more grace than I had previously attributed to them.
    Well done!

    • Madam ZoZo says:

      Thanks for visiting Duende Helen! I’ve always rushed through the Downs on the way somewhere else. It’s nice to have the chance to retrace my steps and stop to smell the roses, literally and metaphorically 🙂

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.