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. This area is also home to my friends and fellow travelers Nicole and Pete.
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 surprises and lots of duende.
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 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.
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.
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.
Go adventuring and you’ll be amazed at what you find, even in a place that feels overly familiar.