Runaway Travel Stories

The Runner’s Guide to Toowoomba

Two things surprised us as we rattled and rolled into Toowoomba. For one, it is anything but flat. The Old Girl huffed and puffed in second gear all the way up to the city.

And two, Toowoomba is known as “The Garden City”. Sure, this means that every September you can enjoy the Australian Carnival of Flowers festival. But for die-hard trail runners, more importantly this equates to awesome trail running.

Here are 3 trails every runner should try:

JUBILEE PARK

Toowoomba literally means “Where the Water Sits Down”, which, when you arrive in the city in the middle of a 24-hour downpour, is very easy to believe. Fortunately, by the time we were ready to hit the trails, it was blue skies all around and the perfect day to explore Jubilee Park, just a couple of kilometres out of the city centre. Not so fortunately, the park hadn’t yet had a chance to channel away all the water. Oh well!

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Perched on the edge of Mount Lofty, the 313-hectare park is a dream to run, thanks to kilometres and kilometres of mountain bike trails snaking up and down the side of the hill. The park is home of the Toowoomba Mountain Bike Club, one of the fastest growing MTB clubs in Southeast Queensland.

Technically, you’re not supposed to run on these trails, but it was Monday and nobody was around so we took our chances. We started with Defibrillator, followed it onto Dirty Granny, then Hamburger, and rode the rollercoaster of Turkey to the bottom. After recharging with a Clif Bar, we were itching to tackle the Rollercat (3.8km) before heading back up the hill on the Jubilee Trail – a walking track that pretty much heads vertically up.

The run was tough, made tougher still by tonnes of claggy mud sticking to our shoes. Even though we tried in vain to scrape and stomp it off every few kilometres, our feet were like concrete for half the run. But it’s all in the name of good training, right?

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Getting there: There are lots of entry points into Jubilee Park, Toowoomba. For a downhill start, park at the end of Bridge Street. For an uphill start, park at the end of Amos Road. Both have toilet blocks. Download the map here.

PICNIC POINT PARK

The perfect blend of manicured garden and native bushland, Picnic Point Park is on the top of Tourist Road on the edge of the city. Marked trails loop around and through the park, taking you down the side of the hill with the view of Table Top Mountain. The Picnic Point Circuit is about 5km and skirts around the edge of the park, with plenty of ups, downs and views.

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Beef it up with the Pardalote Walk onto the Fantail. Switchbacking for 2km up the side of a hill, Fantail makes for great training ground. Repeat this a few times and you’ll have earned a coffee in the cafe at the top!

For something even more challenging, join the Picnic Point trails to Table Top Mountain. At the base of Fantail Walk, turn right until you reach Table Top Drive. Turn left and follow the road past a few houses and stables to the trail head at the end.

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Getting there: Picnic Point Park is located on Tourist Drive, Toowoomba. There’s plenty of parking, as well as access to drinking water, toilets and good coffee.

TABLE TOP MOUNTAIN

You can’t miss Table Top. Situated on the boundary of the city, it rises majestically and has a very distinctive flat top. Oh, and it’s bald. Only native grasses grow at the summit, which comes as a shock after climbing up over craggy rocks and through cactus to reach it!

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The old volcano isn’t exactly runnable, but it is great fun and good exercise. Running it after the downpour made the rocks incredibly slippery, so we scrambled up and slid down. Still, it was well worth the effort!

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Getting there: If you’re not running from Picnic Point, you can drive along South Street until it turns into Table Top Drive. There’s informal parking at the end. Note, there’s no access to water or toilets. Here’s some more info on Table Top Mountain.

TIME TO REFUEL

For something naughty and nice, head straight to Full of Life cafe in the city centre. Organic, vegetarian, vegan, sugar-free, gluten free – they’ve got it all PLUS good coffee. What more do you need?

Ever been trail running in Toowoomba? Tell us about your favourite trails!

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