The Cobb & Co Tourist Drive follows the railway line and the original Cobb & Co route between Ipswich and Toowoomba, covering a distance of about 130 kilometres.
The first mail route was awarded to Cobb & Co in Queensland in 1866 from Brisbane to Ipswich. Passengers and mail continuing west used Queensland’s first main line railway to Grandchester Railway Station , then continued by Cobb & Co coach to Toowoomba.
The main focus of the tourist drive is the history of the Cobb & Co mail route and Queensland’s first railway main line.
From Ipswich to Toowoomba
The tourist route starts at Ipswich, then continues west through Walloon, Rosewood, Grandchester, Laidley, Gatton, Murphys Creek, Spring Bluff, and finishing in Toowoomba.
Start of Tourist Drive
The start of the drive can be found travelling west along the Warrego Hwy on approach to the Mt Crosby Rd exit to Tivoli. At the roundabout off the exit, continue straight towards Tivoli and Ipswich Central. Follow Mt Cosby Rd for around 3.6 kilometres to Downs St. Mt Cosby Rd changes names a couple of times but follow straight all the way.
The Workshops Rail Museum
The tourist drive turns left onto Downs St, however, head straight along Delacy St to the end to reach The Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich . The Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich was originally Queensland Rail’s North Ipswich Railway Workshops. The museum has displays of railway history and interactive features such as the train driving simulator.
From here, head back up Delacy St and turn right onto Downs St. Follow Downs St for around 1.4 kilometres to a roundabout on Pine St. Head to the right and cross over the bridge into the CBD of Ipswich.
Take the first left immediately after crossing the bridge to take you to the waterfront, turn left at the roundabout onto Bremer St. Follow for about 500 metres to turn right into a parking area to access the River Heart Parklands.
Just before the car park, turn left into Ellenborough St (turn right if coming back out of the car park). 300 metres ahead on the corner of Brisbane Street and Ellenborough Street is St Paul’s Anglican Church. St Paul’s is a heritage-listed church built in 1855.
Brisbane Street is a one-way street heading in the wrong direction. Turn right onto East Street and the next right onto Limestone Street. Alternatively, you can cross Brisbane Street and turn right on Limestone Street when coming up Ellenborough Street.
There are a number of things to look at around Ipswich, a detour from the drive to the Ipswich Visitor Information Centre will provide more information and points of interest. Turn left into Brisbane Street when coming off the bridge or out of Ellenborough Street, then follow for about 1km and turn right into Chermside Road. The entry is 200m on the right. There are some brown signs close to the information centre, including Queens Park where the the information centre is located with the Japanese gardens and the free native animal zoo, and not too far away is the Enviro Park Lookout at Denham Hill Conservation Park.
To head out of the Ipswich CBD, follow Limestone Street until it comes to cross Brisbane Street. Turn left into Brisbane Street to follow the brown sign for Cobb & Co Tourist Drive.
Follow Brisbane Street, which becomes Old Toowoomba Road, for about 1.8km to a roundabout. Turn right heading towards Rosewood and follow for 9.5km to Walloon.
Walloon is the first town out of Ipswich along the Cobb & Co Tourist Drive. It is only 15 minutes out but is a quieter spot to stop if you are leaving the busy Ipswich CBD.
Here you can find the Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park, an ideal spot if you want to stop at a park with a playground to occupy the kids for a bit. The park is also a memorial to the lost Babies of Walloon, commemorating the tragic drowning of two school children at a local waterhole.
The drowning is the subject of a poem, “The Babies of Walloon”, by Henry Lawson, hence the name of the park. The poem is carved into railway sleepers around the memorial and there is a bronze statue of the two children who drowned.
The park has sheltered BBQs and toilets, as well as the important playground for the kids, including a BMX track and skate park.
Rosewood Staging Post
Continue west along Karrabin Rosewood Rd for about 8 kilometres to reach Rosewood, where the first of three staging posts along the Cobb & Co Tourist Drive is located. Turn left at the roundabout at John Street to head into the main street at Rosewood. The Rosewood Staging Post is on the corner of Williams St about 650 metres on the left.
The staging post has a Cobb & Co stage coach on display with information about Cobb & Co and points of interest in Rosewood. At the far end of the park is a playground for small kids and a Queensland Bottle Tree with information about it.
The Old Jail was built in 1908 and placed in the Cobb & Co Heritage Park in 2015 for its second relocation, first moved in 1987 to make way for a new police station.
There are some brown signs in Rosewood. In the main street (John Street) is The Wisdom Seat, a sign by a seat that was provided for waiting residents for the arrival of mail. At the roundabout where John Street, Walloon Road, and Lanefield Road meet, there is Johnston Park and Masons Bridge named after a former councillor of Rosewood Shire Council and in honour of the Mason family respectively.
For some additional railway history, take a quick detour to Kunkala, The Rosewood Railway. The railway museum is a a few kilometres north of Rosewood on the Scenic Rim Tourist Drive 16, which intersects with Cobb & Co Tourist Drive in Rosewood.
Grandchester formerly known as Bigges Camp
Leave Rosewood towards Grandchester on Lanefield Road which becomes Rosewood Laidley Rd. Grandchester is just over 12 kilometres to the west but was first known as Bigges Camp, a stopping point for Cobb & Co and travellers heading west towards Gatton and Toowoomba.
Follow the brown sign to Bigges Camp Park as you enter Grandchester, a tribute to the original name of the area. Across Rosewood Laidley Rd is the Grandchester Model Railway on 500 metres of railway line. Fun for children and adults alike, ride behind scaled down versions of locomotives including some being steam engines powered by coal.
Wait for your turn at the signal cabin from Yarongmulu from around 1866, relocated from between Laidley and Grandchester. The Model Railway operates one day a month, the same day the historical Grandchester Railway Station is open, a little further on just after crossing the railway line.
The district was historically called Hiddenvale. Whilte the name is no longer officially used, there are places that continue to use the name. Hiddenvale Road intersects with Grandchester Mount Mort Road near Spicers Hidden Vale Resort . Other places also use the Hidden Vale name.
Laidley and Lake Dyer
From Grandchester, continue west along Rosewood Laidley Road for about 8km to reach Laidley.
Turn north into main township of Laidley
Forest Hill Staging Post
Gatton Staging Post
, where the Cobb & Co Tourist Drive really begins. The Workshops Rail Museum is It then continues west through Walloon, Rosewood, Grandchester, Laidley, Gatton, Murphys Creek, Spring Bluff, and finishing in Toowoomba.