Sunday, July 3, 2011

Thoughts on Toowoomba

As you may or may not be aware, we are making the move from what I like to call my 'rural posting', departmental provided accommodation, to a house of our own. You can read about our adventures about the process so far here, here and here. While we are waiting, and while I need to kill a few minutes while my little boy is sleeping, I bring to you a quick review of Toowoomba.

Actually it's not so much as a review, but more of a 'my impressions so far'. Toowoomba, if you have ever been, is a unique city. For one, it's not actually on a river, which means it is much easier to transverse the city, rather than having to 'get to a bridge' if you know what I mean. There is an annoying airport towards the western end (where we bought our house), but it's tiny and I think in about 10-20 years, it will be moved away from the city, somewhere out of the way, but still close enough. The city itself is a reflection of the location of the place; there is no major city centre mall, although there are a few shopping centres dotted around the place. There is ample parking, a sign of the rural need to cater for the farmers coming in for a visit from the bush. Toowoomba caters for A HUGE area of land mass, and it's not uncommon for travelers to make the trip from as far out as Charleville just to do some serious shopping.

The people are a mix. As they are everywhere else. Walking down Ruthven Street, you get the feeling the place is becoming cosmopolitan, a few cafes, fashion outlets, boutiques and general shops, this certainly is not a dull shopping experience, albeit no different from any other regional hotspot. Passers-by range from the chick and classy, to working class and the odd suit and power dress here and there. The streets are lined with Commodores, Falcons, Hiluxes and Nivaras as well as the occasional BMW and Mazda 6. What you also see a lot of in Toowoomba, is people movers. Maybe it's because I'm in the market for one, but I see a lot of Carnivals, Territories, Taragos, Foresters and Captivas. Somewhat alarmingly, and I suppose I should have expected it, a large number of these vehicles have occupants with Cowboy hats; wearing them while driving. This is always a clear sign that you should be on attention as a driver.

Toowoomba has many schools, too many really, as the city caters for the boarders from farms far far away; money rolls through the city I think, mainly because of these places. There is apparently crime, but you wouldn't really notice by the way the majority of houses are neatly displayed, small gardens and fine manicured council strips and front yards. The city is proud of it's 'garden city' title, and it seems a lot of the locals embrace this notion with two hands.

I will weigh into the debate about the bypass. Toowoomba's main arterial road turns into a four way, non divided street, called James Street and it turns sharply right as you head west, to Tor Street. The number of trucks and semis on this road is a joke; a necessary joke. Toowoomba is THE MAJOR thoroughfare for getting produce etc. from the west to the east and only an idiot would not see the need for a bypass road/tunnel to be built; and let's not forget the dangerous range road. I think people may say that it will be bad for business, but I disagree. What is missing in Toowoomba? A central area, not invaded by traffic. Toowoomba could have it's 'country ambiance' back without the city turning into a truck yard.

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