Monday, September 21, 2009

Carnival of Flowers

On Saturday, I went to the Carnival of Flowers, in Toowoomba. Toowoomba is a beautiful regional city, 120km west of Brisbane. It is situated on the top of the Great Dividing Range. Though it is only 1 1/2 hours west of Brisbane, the climate is milder, due to its mountainous position. By Queensland standards, it is relatively cold, though it has only lightly snowed on around 3 occasions in my nearly 40 years. The cooler climate means that many English and European plants, including bulbs, grow beautifully there. It is famous for its beautiful spring floral displays. I grew up in Toowoomba. My mother, sister and extended family members still live there.

Each spring, in early September, Toowoomba hosts the Carnival of Flowers. This week long festival commences with a street parade of floats decorated with live flowers.

Parade float decorated with fresh flowers

My sister was walking with the Child Protection float, (which is not pictured, for protection of the children riding on it, including my niece and nephew). Hi H, B and Mini-J!

There are also garden tours and spectacular gardens in the city's many parks.

Gardens including random strangers

In the largest central park, Queens Park, there was also a sideshow ally, classic car display and food and wine show.

After the parade, the food and wine show was our destination. After all, I am all about the food! Unfortunately, the food and wine show was not all about the vegans. The food was a bit of a disappointment. There were not many food displays, though there were a number of food sales tents, some from local restaurants and some the usual food carts from markets/festivals. Only a couple had anything vegan. I had plain Langos, vegan Dippin Dots (apparently, the ice is vegan, but not the sherbet or ice-cream), Byron Bay fresh ginger bear (yum!) and later, soy coffee. It was all pretty good. Non-vegans also had a range of Thai, Indian, Spanish and mod-Australian food, some of which was vegetarian.

There were many local wineries, from the Granite Belt. Several of those had good, vegan wine. The most easily available for Australian consumers was the Ballandean Winery, which has wines sold in many outlets and at some very good restaurants, including Melbourne's Vue du Monde. I spoke to the wine maker. He said that they did not use fish, insinglass, gelatine, egg or milk products in any of the whites, though there is an allergy warning on them, as there is a small chance of traces of such products getting into the wine from some of the reds. They apparently use a plastic polymer to fine some of the whites. They want to phase out allergens as much as possible. The SSR (a semillon, sauvignon blanc blend) was very nice, herbaceous and fresh, with a good acid balance and hint of fruit.

There was also a great jazz bland playing and a large play area for children. The kids enjoyed the play area, which included a DIY area with supervisors who led them through painting chairs, walls and play equipment for use later in the week.

If you get a chance to visit Toowoomba, it is especially beautiful in spring and well worth the visit. There are no purely vegetarian or vegan restaurants, though several restaurants have vegan or vegetarian options, that can be made vegan.


  1. Wow....The garden looks awesome in the picture. It was nice going through your blog. keep it up the good work.

  2. It looks stunning. I've only been to Toowoomba once, but it wasn't during the flowers. I would like to go and see it again! I'll have to get your suggestions for places that can cater for a vegan when I do! :)

  3. I've never been but it looks like a very pretty place to visit :)

    Shame about there not being many vegan options :(

  4. I lived in Toowoomba in the eighties - the Carnival of Flowers is awesome (and I also have memories of the KR Darling Downs deli packs my Dad always got after marathons - definitely not vegan!). I always loved how hilly most of Toowoomba is. :)

  5. That looks lovely, and the food that you could eat sounds like it was pretty good. And who can complain when there is vegan wine around, hey?