If you drop your location pin 27 kilometres west of Ipswich at the foot of the Great Dividing Range, you’ll find yourself in the Lockyer Valley.
While you may have travelled along the Warrego Highway to Toowoomba or beyond before, it’s well worth the detour off the highway to explore the region’s food, culture and history that makes up the Lockyer Valley, just one hour’s drive from Brisbane.
From filling the boot with fresh produce to collecting eggs on a working farm and exploring heritage buildings – we’ve got you covered with 10 things to do in the Lockyer Valley.
1. Hunt down roadside stalls
Foodies – we’re looking at you.
Southern Queensland Country may be known as one of Queensland’s food bowls, but the Lockyer Valley takes it one step further with the title of Australia’s ‘salad bowl’.
Jump in the car and stop by the local farm gates and produce sheds to fill your boot with cherry tomatoes, hydroponic lettuce and fresh herbs.
From unattended farm stalls (Forest Hill Farm) to attended vegetable stalls (Esk Road) and produce sheds (Flagstone Fresh and Ghost Gully Produce Salad Shed) – there’s no shortage of places to stock up on home-grown produce to fill your fridge.
If you’re a lover of stone fruit – make sure you plan
2. Picnic at spring Bluff Railway Station
Throw down the picnic blanket in the landscaped gardens of the heritage-listed railway station at Spring Bluff Railway Station.
Dating back to 1864, Spring Bluff Railway Station is located on the main railway line between Ipswich and Toowoomba.
Not only does it offer 150 years of railway history, its manicured grass and perfectly pruned flower beds provide the perfect backdrop for a picnic.
BYO snacks or grab treats or meals from quaint cafes or country taverns enroute to the Railway Station.
If you can, plan your visit for September when the garden bursts to life.
3. Shop the local markets
If you’re planning a weekend road trip to the region, put a local farmer’s market on the top of your list.
Held over Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays, you’ll find locally made small batch jams, chutneys and honey along with fresh produce.
Stop by the Laidley Village Markets (Friday) or browse the Mulgowie Markets, Laidley Markets, Murphys Creek Markets, Ma Ma Creek Markets or Plainland Country Markets if you’re visiting on a Saturday or Sunday.
Make sure you check ahead, as the markets run on different weekends throughout the month.
4. Learn about yesteryear at the Pioneer Village and Museum
Want to see what it was like to go to school in the pioneering days?
Stop by the Laidley Pioneer Village and Museum to explore an old schoolhouse, blacksmith’s shop, butcher shop and post office.
Along with replica buildings and houses, the museum also has an extensive collection of artefacts and local history on display.
5. Take a walk along the Laidley Heritage Trail
While produce and agriculture are leading industries for the region, it was once home to a thriving broom business, open-air traveling picture show and hotel built by an immigrant who arrived on one of the Britannia fleets.
With 42 points of interest on the heritage trail, stop by the Visitor Information Centre to pick up a brochure to help plan your self-guided walk.
Follow the heritage trail to learn about how the locally-grown broom millet supplied the broom factory in the early 1900s, visit the heritage-listed Mann’s Bakery built in 1905 or the Queensland National Hotel which survived the 1893 floods.
6. Visit Jessie’s Cottage in Murphys Creek
Stop by Jessie’s Cottage Local History Museum which was originally built by a Scottish migrant who purchased the land for 40 Pounds ($70 AUD) in 1899.
While the house was built by William Taylor, it is named after his daughter Jessie, who resided in the house until she passed in 1966.
The house was eventually purchased by the Gatton Shire Council in 1992 and restored and refurbished to reflect the 1930s and 1940s.
7. Enjoy the views from Cunningham’s Crest Lookout
Get your bearings of the Lockyer Valley with panoramic views from Cunningham’s Crest Lookout.
Named after its explorer – Allan Cunningham – who crossed through the region in 1829, Cunningham’s Crest Lookout pairs valley vistas with a side of history through murals, sculptures and mosaics.
Celebrating the Aboriginal and European history of the site, learn about the pioneering history of the region from the top of Mountain Road.
8. Learn about pioneers of transport
Not all transport museums were created equal, and the Queensland Transport Museum proves the point.
While the museum is home to over 200 models of vintage transport, from a Morris Minor to Mack trucks, you’ll find new exhibitions displayed throughout the year.
The pride of the current fleet is the newly restored 1948 AEC Regal III on loan from the Queensland Omnibus & Coach Society.
9. Live the cheese dream at Awassi Cheesery
Want to get up close and personal with the cheese making process?
Get hands-on at Awassi Cheesery and learn how cheese is made, from the milking parlour to handcrafting the 100% sheep milk cheese.
Take time to sit down for lunch and sample their camembert, pecorino or labneh in the avocado grove or stock up on supplies from the farm gate to impress your friends with your next gourmet cheese platter.
10. Get in the retro spirit
If you love the rock ‘n’ roll era of the 50s and 60s, head to The Barn & Scotty’s Garage.
Re-live the retro years as you walk through the garage packed with vintage cars, motorbikes and jukeboxes.
Move from the garage to the diner, complete with 1950s dance floor and Wurlitzer jukebox and pinball machine.
Settle in at the café following your tour and surround yourself with Australiana memorabilia as you dine on country pies, cobs or cakes and Devonshire tea.