June 11, 2019

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Toowoomba

Thanks to a series of recent investments into the city’s infrastructure, Toowoomba is a booming area with a bright future ahead.

But the Garden City actually has a long and intriguing history. Here are 10 fun facts about Toowoomba you might not know.

1. Swamp or springs…

Ask some Toowoomba locals where the city’s name originated and you’re likely to receive a variety of responses. Some reckon it’s derived from the Aboriginal word for ‘swamp’, which is tawampa. Others believe it’s a variation on woomba woomba, which means ‘reeds in the swamp’. One person even thinks the town was named after his great-great grandmother’s house.

The truth? It’s probably somewhere in between, but we may never know for certain.

2. Is Toowoomba the country’s largest inland city?

Not quite – Canberra holds that record. However, Toowoomba is the largest non-capital inland city, with a population exceeding 134,000 at the most recent Census. But it might not be long before Toowoomba wins the crown, with data from the Queensland Government predicting the Garden City could be home to more than 223,000 people by 2041.

3. A surgical pioneer

Her name was Emma Webb, and on 11 March 1893 she received the first-ever appendectomy in Australia – on her kitchen table in Toowoomba, of all places. The story has a happy ending, with Mrs Webb making a full recovery and even outliving her surgeon! You might be familiar with the name as the Emma Webb Building at Toowoomba Hospital is named after her.

4. First privately funded major airport in Australia

It provides easy access to places like Sydney and Melbourne, but did you know that Wellcamp Airport is the country’s first major airport that’s entirely privately funded? You can thank Wagners for such a huge investment in Toowoomba’s infrastructure, which is having positive knock-on effects in the local property market.

5. Home of the lamington

Like the naming of the city, this fun fact about Toowoomba is a little contentious depending on who you ask. But folklore has it that in 1886 the state governor at the time, aptly named Lord Lamington, travelled to Toowoomba and requested that a cook bake him his favourite sweet: a round cake with whipped cream called ‘snowballs’.

Unfortunately for the governor, the cook didn’t have any round cake tins nor any cream. So he whipped up a mutant version of the cake in a rectangular tin and drenched the sponge in chocolate icing and coconut, dubbing them “Lord Lamington Cakes”.

6. The oldest pub in the country

Take a drive just beyond Highfields and you’ll find a pub called The Farmers Arms – Australia’s oldest surviving licensed hotel. Back when it was first licensed in 1863 it was actually part of a gaol, but these days you’re more likely to find a decent meal and a few beers than any prisoners.

7. Famous folk

Most people who think about “famous people from Toowoomba” usually say Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush – and that’s true. But there are plenty of other bigwigs who started life in the Garden City.

From our 15th Prime Minister Frank Ford to country music veteran Gina Jeffreys, boxer Michael Katsidis, TV personality Sonia Kruger and rugby league legend Peter Sterling, Toowoomba has plenty of big-name claims to fame.

8. Annual carnival dedicated entirely to flowers

Toowoomba isn’t known as the Garden City for nothing. Anyone who’s visited the town in spring will have spotted a vibrant array of colourful flowers on almost every street. The annual Carnival of Flowers is the longest-running event of its kind and plays host to more than a quarter-of-a-million attendees every year.

9. Played a role in World War II

Back in 1942, Toowoomba was chosen as the site for the RAAF No.7 Inland Aircraft Fuel Depot. While it shut its doors before the war ended, for two years it acted as an essential fuel depot for both the Australian and US air forces.

10. First unofficial Anzac Day Dawn Service

Just one year after World War I ended, a veteran by the name of Captain Harrington spent Anzac Day morning in 1919 placing flowers on WWI graves and memorials around Toowoomba. He later toasted his fallen comrades with a drink. In subsequent years the captain and his mates repeated the act, ending their pilgrimage at Picnic Point to the sound of a bugler playing the ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’.

If you’re looking to buy or sell in Toowoomba contact our experienced team today.

Article by Jacqui Walker

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