Exploring the Cobb & Co Tourist Drive
On 1 January 1866, the first Cobb & Co mail service in Queensland commenced, from Brisbane to Ipswich. Passengers heading further west took a train from Ipswich to Grandchester and then another Cobb & Co coach took them from there to Toowoomba.
Today, the best way to explore is in the comfort of your vehicle, allowing you to take in the sights, and history, of this iconic Aussie touring route. As one of the shorter Brisbane drives, this trip features on our best road trips from Brisbane list as a good one or two day trip to add to the itinerary.
DAY 1: BRISBANE TO GRANDCHESTER
To start your journey from Brisbane, drive 40km south-west to Ipswich, and keep an eye out for the distinctive coach wheel signs that will guide your way to Toowoomba.
Just as Cobb & Co’s passengers needed occasional rest stops, so do modern-day travellers. Along the route, there are three ‘staging posts’, in Rosewood, Forest Hill and Gatton, where there are toilets and refreshments available seven days a week.
Some highlights include Walloon, the first stop on Queensland’s first railway. This area was once known as ‘Ten Mile Peg’, its approximate distance by the old track from Ipswich. About 23km along the Rosewood-Laidley Road, you’ll find Grandchester, the first terminus on the railway. Nearby is Queensland’s first and oldest railway dam, built in 1894 to ensure a reliable water supply for the steam locomotives.
Make a stop at the historic Grandchester Steam Sawmill and the Grandchester Stage Coach Company.
DAY 2: GRANDCHESTER TO BRISBANE
From Grandchester, head towards Gatton, known as ‘Australia’s salad bowl’ before making your way to beautiful Toowoomba, the capital of the Darling Downs. Here make sure you visit the Cobb & Co Museum featuring Australia’s finest collection of horse-drawn vehicles including Cobb & Co coaches, farm wagons, hawkers’ barrows, delivery carts and buggies. To extend your journey, there is an optional route from Toowoomba to Brisbane via Esk (Highway 85) and Lake Wivenhoe (A17) or take the long way home via the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing which will impress even the most sceptical driver.
Where to stay - There are plenty of local options in small towns, or try the BIG4 Toowoomba Garden City Holiday Park in Toowoomba.