Today’s tour of turn-of-the-20th-century Toowoomba is brought to you by digitised postcards from our collection, while the commentary is provided by Darling Downs, Queensland, the garden of Australia, a book produced by the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau in 1908. So make yourself comfortable and get ready to discover “the garden of Australia”.
Let the tour commence….
“Toowoomba…is the capital of the great plateau of the Darling Downs.”
“Whichever way you look, you are met by a series of beautiful pictures… In the town itself, too, are pictures of streets shadowed in full-foliaged trees, of handsome residences lost in embowering greenery, of fine churches, and large public buildings rising from commanding sites, of extensive parks, and waters fringed with the green trailing curtains of the willow.”
“Toowoomba has no lack of public buildings and institutions. The present municipal office were erected in 1901  at a cost (including furniture) of £11,000. The accommodation is generous, and includes a theatre and one of the best school of arts reading-rooms in the State. The Technical College also occupies a portion of the building.”
“[Toowoomba] is distant 101 miles by railway from Brisbane. The Sydney express mail train passes each way through Toowoomba daily; and trains leave daily from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Ipswich, Warwick, Dalby, Roma, Mitchell, Charleville, Cunnamulla, Pittsworth, Crow’s Nest, Cabarlah, Oakey, and Jondaryan. Through trains from Toowoomba to Cunnamulla, in the far West, leave every Tuesday and Friday, calling at all intermediate stations. There is an excellent and well-provided refreshment-room at the Toowoomba station.”
“The two most flourishing public societies in Toowoomba are the Royal Agricultural Society, formed in 1859, to encourage stock-raising and husbandry; and the Austral Association, founded in 1903 by Mr Essex Evans and a few enthusiasts, to forward the cause of Art, Literature, Music
“The annual shows of the Royal [Agricultural Society] are known all over Australia, and the finest specimens of stock and produce that the surrounding districts and the States of New South Wales and Victoria can raise are to be seen at the Annual Exhibition in August. This show is an education in itself. The entries have increased from 684 in 1891 to 2,054 in 1907.”
“The commercial importance of the city may be gauged by the fact that the following banking institutions have branch establishments in Toowoomba, viz: – The Union Bank of Australia, Ltd., Bank of New South Wales, Commercial Banking Company of Sydney, Ltd., Bank of Australasia, Queensland National Bank, Ltd., Royal Bank of Queensland, Ltd., and the Australian Joint Stock Bank, Ltd.
“Masonry and kindred associations are well to the fore. There are four Masonic lodges, three lodges of Oddfellows, A.O. Forresters, a Rechabite Society, several Blue Ribbon Societies, and two other benefit societies. The Caledonian and Hibernians have each a society.”
“Education is liberally provided for. There are fifteen primary State schools in the city and district. There are many other private schools. The State Grammar School for boys, erected in 1877, at a cost of £17,000, is well patronised, and its handsome buildings form a conspicuous landmark on the east portion of the city.”
“It is the opinion of many thoughtful men in New South Wales, Victoria, and New Zealand that before another thirty years Toowoomba will become the principal inland city of the Commonwealth, having in its immediate vicinity land capable of supporting millions of people, and being the central depot of railway lines tapping the north-eastern, south-western and western districts for over 500 miles.”