All aboard for Carnival of Flowers mainstay
A VISIT to the Spring Bluff Railway Station has become a tradition handed down from one generation to the next in many families.
The station's history goes back 150 years and it is surrounded by stunningly colourful, award-winning landscaped gardens.
While the gardens are open year-round, they are at their best for Toowoomba's Carnival of Flowers, with the added bonus that you can travel there through tunnels and back aboard a diesel train from Toowoomba.
About 5000 people hopped aboard during last year's carnival.
"It really is a special multi-generational experience," said the station's trust management chairman and long-serving Toowoomba councillor Joe Ramia.
"Often grandma and grandpa used to ride the train, then they took their kids and now those kids are parents themselves and taking their kids, so we get three generations of a family on the one train."
There will be two return trips daily from September 18-24, departing Toowoomba at 9am and 1pm.
But Sunday, September 18, is guaranteed to be the busiest of all when, from 11am to 3pm, the Jim Miller Big Band brings echoes of the 1930s-40s Glenn Miller band to life.
About 1900 visitors came by train, bus and car to enjoy the event last year.
"The music really does lend itself to that idea of stepping back in time," Cr Ramia said.
"There's nothing high-tech here; often you can't even get phone reception. You just walk through the gardens, listen to the birds and appreciate the lovely environment, while the kids run around and explore.
"And of course the trains are like a magnet to people of all ages; it's just that romance of rail."
The entertainment is free and you can bring a picnic or the Spring Bluff Cafe is open every day in September. Rail tickets: $20 adults, $10 for kids aged 4-15 and under-4s travelling on a lap are free.
CARNIVAL OF FLOWERS HIGHLIGHTS
* Boyce Gardens, September 16-25, 9am-4pm.
* Arts Trail: From the lantern parade and markets (Friday, September 16 at 6.30pm) to the Arts and Tails Trail, September 24-25.
* Grand Parade, 3pm Saturday, September 17.
* Concerts: The Chantoozies, Eurogliders and the Models, Queens Park from 5.15pm Saturday, September 17.
Katie Noonan (12.30pm); The Whitlams (6pm); Tim Finn (7.45pm) - Queens Park Sunday, September 18.
* Special Guests: Chef Miguel Maestre and Selling Houses Australia gardening guru Charlie Abaone.
* Churches bloom: St Luke's, St Patrick's, St Stephens, St Barts and St David's all offer displays or events.
For a complete listing visit www.tcof.com.au.