I’ve Found a Rare Breed in Toowoomba

When a local businesswoman wins three finalist spots in the Business Excellence Awards in this year’s categories, you know you have discovered a rare breed. Kim Cahill is a much admired and recognised local identity both in Toowoomba and on her homeground of Highfields. Her life has been one centred around family and her energy and commitment has grown from the principles of family, serving the community and building her business modelled by her parents, Bernie and Lyn Carney.

One of six children in a family where hard work in the family businesses was a given, Kim considers herself a country girl at heart. Her understanding of the life and loves of hard-working, hard-living country folk has permeated her life’s decisions, and is what drives her to serve the community through supporting the sole traders and micro mum and dad businesses.

It is not just her distinctive hair or her ready-for-everyone smile that you remember about her, as Kim has the knack of listening intently to your conversation, and being able to grasp the essence of the dreams and goals of each and every person with whom she connects.

She thrives on giving. Her instincts to help others have been practised in her roles as a mother and doting grandmother; her unstinting volunteering while her children Clayton and Naomi were at school; supporting her husband, Bill, in his Councillor campaigns and roles; to establishing free posts and profiles for thousands of local businesses via her Toowoomba&Darling Downs website, Facebook and Instagram platforms and providing a business model to sustain these initial investments in local growth. Her genuine concern for these smaller entities lead to Kim co-founding the Highfields Business Development group which has now matured in to its own Chamber of Commerce. Kim sees a need and is willing to offer her support and services to meet the need.

Nothing epitomises this more than her leading role in 2021 in bringing the plight of the regional Wedding Industry to the Toowoomba Community, where she and her team were instrumental in the support of peak industry body ABIA Weddings motivating the local vendors to move towards making Toowoomba a top national Wedding Destination.

Not content with this major achievement, Kim offered social media sponsorship support to the launch of Word Fest 2022. This vibrant program bringing more prominence to Toowoomba’s depth of writers, book sellers, illustrators, wordsmiths and readers in 2022 will also highlight Toowoomba as a diverse destination experience, bringing many visitors to the region Kim loves. As MC on the day of the launch, Kim delighted the more than 25 authors and organisers represented there with her offer of ongoing social media sponsorship for the year ahead. Such a community leader!

Kim is a giver first and foremost, and so very many of us, including myself, have been the recipients of her generosity of time, clothes (living the principles of Zero Waste she shares in that FB group she developed), support of community charities such as Project School Formal, volunteering her services as a speaker or MC at fundraisers or the coffees and chats she loves to share.

Despite 2020 and 2021 throwing up significant medical and work challenges, Kim has not only met them with grace, dignity and realism, but she has taken on new pathways, continued building her networks, business skills and acumen, and guided many along the way. I am privileged to know the person ‘behind the scenes’.

There are not many people who genuinely support those who could be potential competitors in this tough pandemic world, but Kim Cahill is that rare breed – an open-hearted community champion. On behalf of the region and the lives you have touched, Kim – THANK YOU!

Gateway to the Bunyas – Quinalow, Maclagan, and Peranga

Quinalow ‘s history can’t really be separate from that of Maclagan or Peranga as they are such close neighbours and the community spirit intertwines. They also form the Gateway to the Bunyas. Together they provide a shared experience for the traveller or the local alike…. a lot to see and a lot of fun.

Maclagan’s convenience store is a quirky stop. A mix of old and new, provisions for tourists and basic items for the locals, and good homestyle takeaways, this store requires a lengthy look.

And the place really bristles with the pride and recognition of the sons of the area whose service is forever remembered.

While the Memorials in the Park at Maclagan holds the names of the servicemen of the district, Greg Daley, the Quinalow Publican, makes sure the ANZAC Day service is alive and well up the road. From very humble beginnings Greg solemnly hoisted the flag on the footpath pole outside the hotel on his own as a Dawn Service personal tribute. Today’s annual community rallying around the flag now shows how much the community appreciates his gesture and it is now a proud community tradition. A service at Maclagan on the previous day brings out the school children to march and respectfully remember and they will hopefully continue to keep the traditions alive.

Maclagan boasts the annual Australian Squeezebox Festival – a hoot for the grey nomads and locals. There are plenty of nearby local historic sites, the Wineries, the Museum and the Alex Campbell Park. Take your pick, then head to chat with Greg and Cheryl a stone’s throw down the road at the Quinalow Pub.

For the history or aviation buffs……no this is not the plane that crashed………..stay tuned for that story in the next blog.

Maclagan is in farming heartland and the local meatworks helps keep the little community alive.

In the other direction from the Quinalow intersection is the road to Peranga. While Quinalow has a great Prep to Year 10 school, the cricket/sporting grounds, mechanic garage and well-maintained library, and shares the facilities above with its Maclagan neighbour, the third prong in the Gateway to the Bunyas is Peranga.

Maclagan has the memorials and Peranga has the burial places. It is a short drive down the road to visit the well-cared for cemetery and to see the Peranga Bowls Club which provides another outlet for the community and special events.

If you have thoughts of satisfying your curiosity about the Bunya Mountains, then plan for a day or two at its Gateway. There are friendly community members on hand to point you in the right direction, and always a friendly yarn, the convenience of a caravan park and a few cold drinks and a great meal at the pub.

French delights Toowoomba Style

Annie from ParisiAnn Patisserie is a delight herself, but it is the delicious pastries that bring us back time and time again. French favourites have inspired Annie and Mark to produce a little ray of French sunshine in their Mort Estate cafe.

Quality training and practice have ensured that these sweet delights capture the essence of their vision and show their professional skills. Annie’s has been cooking professionally for 20 years in a variety of settings and has a background in community services. Her youthful appearance which she puts down to a good skincare regime, belies her age and mothering of her young children – I obviously need to eat more pastries to have such a youthful glow. The other part of the story is Annie’s life partner, chef Mark who cut his professional taste buds both here and overseas.

About six years ago when looking at pathways options, armed with sound quals, an apprenticeship and a Diploma in Business, growing a family, and Mark’s global food adventures and background and experience, Annie and Mark looked to offer a speciality dessert, pastries option for Toowoomba…..definitely lacking at the time. Loving her career journey and eager to launch their own cafe, finding the perfect location was the next step. It meant taking in to consideration a ‘just out of the cbd’ location, and suddenly a two-week turnaround converting the existing Thai restaurant in to their dream cafe meant the dream was becoming a reality very quickly once they discovered the Mort Estate shopping centre and could see its potential.

So ParisiAnn Patisserie (cool name playing on its French style and Annie’s name) had a soft launch, with curious locals dropping in…. time and time again. Breakfasts became popular, and after requests for additions to the basic menu, they noticed more and more requests for gluten free options. So began their amazing accommodation of the ‘search for the perfect gf pastry’ that coeliacs like myself crave. Rich classic cookery options were the foundation for the menu, then trial and more trials meant adapting these culinary classics to magical gf melt in your mouth beauties. What gf heaven!

It was never really on the original plan to specialise in this genre, but understanding the gf issues, riding a huge learning curve about ingredients, and what does and doesn’t convert to gf has been amazing. Its popularity for its gf goodies has grown beyond Toowoomba, and they have orders going to all points from NSW to Qld’s western border, to both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and Brisbane. We don’t mind as long as there is plenty for us – the locals!

SO ..

what makes ParisiAnn Patisserie different?

Locals who return often and have become friends; neighbouring mutually supportive businesses in the centre; a location that fringes the cbd on a prominent street; a distinct gf speciality range of sweets and now working on the savoury range; word of mouth recommendations and testimonials for all their range and THE CAKES!……..come taste the difference!

As a recent cake customer for our Word Fest event, I knew I wanted something gf that looked like an open book…….hey, if you can’t eat what you order, there is no advantage! So Annie made a layered square vanilla spongey cake with butter cream covering. Difficult to do, and certainly no easy feat to pipe words on top – the cake was absolutely delicious, and was a big hit at our launch event. Sure, I know it is much more satisfying for Annie to make more traditonal cake styles and icing, but it is all a learning journey, and I know what I would change for my next gf order for a milestone birthday coming up. Annie’s attention to our needs was very much appreciated! Another regular customer was our beautiful MC, Kim Cahill, who spreads the word near and far about this little French delight.

COVID challenges overcome and a bright outlook for the future is what keeps Annie working hard and balancing her quality family time with her much-loved career. And Mark is alongside every step of the way.

Parking here is easy, the friendly welcome is genuine and the food shouts YUM! Start your return relationship with ParisiAnn Patisserie today.

#cakestoo7woomba #gftoowoomba #parisiannpatisseries

A Ghost in Room Number 1

Daisy May was not happy with the whoops and hollers of the Melbourne Cup Day antics. So why would the Quinalow Pub care about Daisy May? And who was or is Daisy May?

Well, Daisy May’s presence at the pub is legendary.

Born as Daisy May Williams on 2 April 1918 in Quinalow, the second daughter of Thomas Williams and Victoria Marie Clappier, Daisy lived the life of a country child at Bymaroo, Jondaryan until her engagement in 1941. Her life as a married woman began when she took on the role of wife of Malcolm Francis Pottinger.

Daisy was a striking looking woman.

Sadly her life took a tragic turn. When she was driving from Quinalow to Peranga on 18 May 1962 she was involved in a car accident which claimed her life at age 44. It was believed that she had been decapitated. Historian Leisa Carney has applied for the record of the accident and is waiting patiently for it to arrive.

As with all good yarns, her ghost supposedly lives on in Room Number 1 at the pub…..looking to reattach her head and get a drink from the friendly publican couple.

A regular visitor to the pub, swears blind, probably on a bottle of his favourite whisky rather than a bible, that while he was sleeping in the room, he felt the weight of someone sitting on the end of the bed watching him. When he went for breakfast the next morning he asked Cheryl if she had been in the room, which she laughingly denied, he put it down to the ghost of Daisy May…..and so the yarns gain a life of their own.

What do you think?

The Daisy May Pottinger Room…….come and stay snd see if she visits.

Russell Street Refreshed

For those who haven’t seen the latest refurbishment in the CBD in Toowoomba, you are in for a treat in Russell Street.

Refreshed streetscape certainly brings the stunning historic shop fronts of the CBD core in to view. The facades and rooflines are very distinctive and in contrast with the more contemporary lines of Grand Central in Margaret Street. It is quite a delight to stroll down Russell Street’s facelifted section.

For those businesses along this section whose livelihoods have been put on hold because of Covid and this refurbishment, the need for Toowoombaites to SHOP LOCAL is even more important! The shops along this section are very different from the section further along past the lights and the railway line which have not been affected for such a long period of time. Let’s hope the reopening sees people return, whether it is out of curiosity or former loyalty to the diverse occupants.

Probably best known in this Russell Street Precinct is ROWES long-standing family furniture store from which so many locals have decorated their homes. The substantial Redevelopment of Rowes is still underway, and winds around in to Keefe Street. It was an interesting contrast of design to see the very modern style and the new home of The Toowoomba Gallery on the upper floor. It will be a different level of home and creative art decoration to compliment the more traditional furnishings around the corner.

Besides exploring the different business offerings on both sides of the street, it was fun to see more of Toowoomba’s now very famous painted laneways. Views both colourful and with messages to entertain and encourage further exploration.

Although the refurb is still in progress, life in Russell Street needs YOU! Get on down!

A Cracker of a Community Supporter

When you open the door and step in to Cracker Print and Paper in Toowoomba’s CBD 435 Ruthven Street frontage, you enter in two distinct worlds – one of a contemporary range of cards, notebooks and paper crafting accessories and the other the world of the history of over a century of Toowoomba’s tradition of printing. Both produce the WOW factor!

Cracker Print and Paper came in to being in 2001 with the purchase and subsequent amalgamation of McDonald and Rosbrook and Harrison Printing Company. Both being well-respected and long established commercial printing companies in Toowoomba, their collective history starts in the very late 1800s with McDonald and Rosbrook and then in 1907 with the opening of Harrison Printing Company.

Cracker is a family owned business with the proprietors being the McDonald family of John (Cracker), Joan, Geoff and Lisa. The stability of the staff is evident with most of the employees recording 10 or more years’ service. Cracker’s vision of being recognised amongst the best and most respected maufacturers and suppliers of corporate, professional, personal printing and associated products is certainly being realised, judging by the recommendations of its clients.

The Printing Hub is piloted by Bob Ryan whose approachable manner makes discussing and ordering a project a very comfortable experience. Working with Bob in the graphic design area upstairs in the historic building are Dave and Mark who deliver very accurate, professional versions of initial concepts.

While the staff these days work with high-tech machines and operate in a digital age, the building occasionally hums to the old machines which Bob learnt on as a young trainee a few years ago now. These sturdy machines conjure up scenes from the wild west movies of the newspaper men in their aprons and shirt-sleeves manually setting type and printing the news. Nostalgia still exists at Cracker, but the operation is definitely using the latest technology. It produces over 2000 printed projects per year.

Cracker, as a long-term community contributor is generously sponsoring the inaugural Top of the Range Word Fest event this weekend – 6th November – through the printing of the A1 Information posters which tell the proud history of literature produced in the region up until 2000. This historical Timeline, produced by researcher Shirley Chambers, will hang proudly on the wall of the new WRITE GALLERY at 126 Margaret Street. As part of the visionary Lighthouse Complex on that site, Emma Mactaggart’s vision of a discrete home for writers is slowly unfolding. Bob was able to see the tremendous value to Toowoomba and beyond, and is eager to see the company’s gift at the opening of the gallery to the public.

At the opening, not only generous with these posters, the 20 authors and organisations who have contributed to the contemporary writing landscape, will proudly display a Cracker designed and produced A3 poster outlining a bio and information about their published works. It will front their table while they share and sign their books on the day. What a fantastic contribution to this fresh and exciting initiative for Toowoomba.

The Collaboration Team for Word Fest is extremely grateful to Cracker Print and Paper for its sponsorship, without which we would not have been able to provide the quality legacy to the local creative arts fraternity. We look forward to Cracker’s continued collaboration throughout the diverse range of events in 2022.

Queensland’s State Rose Garden

Toowoomba definitely deserves its title as The Garden City, not only for its Carnival of Flowers, its historic houses and their beautifully landscaped surrounds, but also for its Rose Garden at Newtown Park. Saturday 23rd October saw the 21st Celebration of this beautiful public space hosting the display and recognition of the Animals at War, including the Light Horse infantry.

The recognition of the contribution of the horses, donkeys, messenger pigeons and dogs in the military both historically and currently was supported by the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation, and those who attended the ceremony were treated to the flag raising and release of pigeons in the area where the memorials proudly stand.

Set amidst the beds and beds of roses which are the showcase pieces of the Queensland State Rose Gardens, Newtown Park has a mighty military history. The entrance to the Park on the Holberton Street side has a fine display outlining the history and development of the various buildings and memorials. This is definitely a worthwhile stopping point.

Of course the 21st birthday celebration was paying tribute to the history of the establishment of the Rose Garden as the State’s museum and guardianship of this favourite of flowers. The care and nurture of its future is in safe and expert hands. Its layout is a showcase of varieties, colours, arbours and perfumes. Very few visitors can resist soaking up the heady perfumes of the traditional blooms, or marvelling at the more modern hybrids or new colours.

You don’t have to wait for the next anniversary to visit – though October certainly puts on a dazzling display. There are plenty of shady picnic areas, and strolling through the gardens is a real life relaxation when you ‘stop and smell the roses.’

Thank you Toowoomba!

Pub Partners

When publicans Greg and Cheryl Daley took on the Quinalow Pub for a second time, it left some locals scratching their heads – but very happy that this community-minded couple decided to return and help the community prosper.

What changed their minds from ‘No, we have already done that’ to ‘Let’s do it! ‘ ?

They had already earned the admiration and loyalty of the locals during their first stint at the Quinalow hotel, and won the acknowledgement and recognition of their peers in the Queensland Hotel Association when they were named in the top ten best bush pubs in Queensland. So they didn’t need to prove their ability or their commitment – but they weighed up all the pros and cons, and saddled up for a second run.

Is it something in the water? Is it the memories of the previous good times? Is it the strong sense of community? Is it the regulars that keep the shine on the bar stools? Is it the partnerships with the nearby Maclagan and Peranga communities? Or is it the vision they can see for the future of this farming heartland so close to the major centres of Toowoomba, Oakey and Dalby?

The Gateway to the Bunyas

Well it is probably a combination of all of these. Whatever outsiders see, the hearts of this life partnership spill over with genuine pride and their0 plans to remain an active part of the community even after they hand over the reins of the running of the pub in the future. Their hearts lie in Quinalow and Quinalow hearts are glad!

You don’t have to be a Pub regular to be on Greg and Cheryl’s radar. The Welcome Mat is out for anyone who pulls up and wants to explore the area. While each of them pursue their own interests, together they are a dynamic duo. Despite fires, drought and the effects of COVID 19, this pair see potential and go for it. Their generosity is known far and wide and along with the positive partnership with the school, the Quinalow Pub is the core of the community – fundraising for great causes, the recycling centre or ANZAC Day allegiance – Greg and Cheryl are behind it all!

Greg’s knowledge of the history of the pub, the yarns that have created myths of ghosts and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night and the yarns of the local characters keep visitors well and truly entertained. What are these stories and initiatives that he and Cheryl hold? Well, stay tuned, take your seat at the bar, and you too will soon get to hear the stories old and new.

Meringandan’s Best-Kept Secret

Only 5 minutes down the road from the Highfields Tavern is Michari Meats. Such a convenient butcher shop so close to everywhere. It was here on a country drive that this meat loving family of mine, first encountered the difference between supermarket and bulk buy meat offerings and meat sourced from local quality and low-mile sites. And what was the difference?

Initially drawn to the message board outside the butcher shop, we tried a couple of varieties of lamb and pork sausages laden with herbs and distinctive flavours, and that was the end of wondering whether there was going to be a return visit. The flavour of the bacon is smokey and conjures up the traditional family butcher shop of my childhood, and once we learnt all the smallgoods were prepared on site, we were sold! Of course having a taster from a charcuterie board presented by Micahri Meats at a Wedding Industry promotional function at Lily’s Restaurant at the Highfields Hotel, cemented the deal. Being guided by owner and long-time butcher Michael as to the purity of the products, this coeliac sufferer was able to approach the return visits with relish – and not just the array of condiments available to compliment the meats.

Michael and Shari make such a great partnership, where Michael has gone from working for the previous owner, to being their own entity since 2018, totally refurbishing the shop to its gleaming white interior and presenting the diverse range of meats which draws repeat customers every day. The message is clearly ‘affordable quality” and I can vouch for that personally.

Michari’s points of difference are many:-

. All ham (yes folks, it’s that time of the year when thoughts turn towards the Christmas ham), bacon and smallgoods are cured and woodsmoked on the premises

. Gluten free ham, bacon, silverside, and sausages

. Full bodies, sides and quarters are available

. Private kills and cut upsmare available

. Phone orders are welcome – 07 4643 8441

and best of all…..Delivery to your home or business – good old-fashioned service with a friendly chat as well.

As well as the enticing display cabinet and smallgoods area, there are great flavourings and the must-have apron accessory for the barbecue chef. That Tomahawk steak is becoming too tempting.

Michael and Shari believe in living and procuring local, and the abbatoirs that supply their meat are from the Downs. This ensures freshness and an environmental low-carbon footprint. Michari Meats supplies Toowomba businesses with top quality meat for their products and customer feedback is always so positive.

The secret is out – Michari Meats in Main Street at Meringandan outshines the rest – take the drive, taste the difference and make the call! You’re Welcome!

Quinalow – where the pigs party hard!

Greg and Cheryl Daley – publicans at the Quinalow Hotel – hosted another outstandingly successful Jacko’s Hawaiian Beach Party yesterday in memory of Jacko Reithmuller. This event which takes the Reithmuller family the whole year to organise, is a fun, family day raising money for the oncology unit at St Andrews Hospital and the Cancer Council in the hope that cancer research soon finds a cure and doesn’t take loved ones too soon like Jacko.

Greg believed the crowd was double that of the previous one, and had his fingers crossed that around $30,000 might be the final count for funds raised. What an amazing event for a small community of 180 people (2016) sitting at the Gateway to the Bunya Mountains between Toowoomba and Dalby on the Darling Downs.

The grounds beside the pub were converted in to a sea of Hawaiian themed shirts, groups of families and friends sporting dubious outfits, costumes, leis and definitely huge smiles. What a fun day!

The last time I visited Quinalow there were only a handful of caravans in the van park across the road from the pub. Today’s visit saw it overflowing with campers keen to spend as much time enjoying themselves as possible.

Volunteers are the key to the success of any event, and the number of volunteers here was jaw-dropping! From the efficient happy faces on the entry gate keeping us COVID safe to the AMAZING raffle prize ticket sellers, to the Reithmuller siblings Courtney, Bryce and Craig, and Mum Jenny, making sure the sweep tickets were ready for each race, to the cooks at the bbq and to the judges and the drink sellers – HATS OFF TO YOU!

These volunteers count on the generosity of local business sponsors to provide the facilities and the entertainment on the day…….and the sponsors for the Pig Races came out in spades! Not wanting to miss anyone, I will leave that list to the organisers.

And so we come to the pigs!

The Pig Races hosted by Noah’s Racing Pigs from the historic Darling Downs Hotel affectionately known as the Sandy Creek Pub about 10 kms outside Warwick are a hoot! Each pig is sponsored, wears a glitzy coloured bib and joins in the races about every 45 minutes. Obviously at the top of their game in terms of animal safety and health, this lovely couple know how to pull and hold a crowd.

Race 1 and newcomers to the races realised they were in for a helluva fast-paced ride. Firstly the auction of the pigs, with the highest bidder ‘owning’ the pig for the race. If their pig wins the race, the winner receives half of the purse, and the other goes towards the fund raising. It was a beautiful Spring day, but it seemed as if things warmed up quickly once the bidding started. Total purse for Race 1 was around $2600 once all 7 pigs were ‘bought’. Those not in syndicates bidding, were able to buy sweep tickets to win $100 on each pig in each race in the sweep draw.

And they’re off! The pigs were trying to be the first to the bowl filled with milk at the end of a maze of barrels, hay bales, gates and ramps. Excited piglets and a bowl of milk make for a short-lived but exciting race – and it was the silver-coated pig that won. Prize winners were grinners! Then it was a break to get food and drink, sweep and raffle tickets before the next race.

Serious syndicate bidding

It also gave time to check out the stalls along the perimeter. Local and near-local vendors showing their crafts and selling their wares.

The little tickers were not forgotten on this family day. Some found the tree house in the distinctive bottle tree, while others like Cooper came with their families from Brisbane, only a hop, step and jump down the Range. The best-dressed boy and girl competition saw a bit of sibling squabbling over their Hawaiian props, and the cutest little strawberry in the patch didn’t know what all the fuss was about!

Race 2 saw the bidding heat up and one pig was bought for over $700. That brought a great cheer from the crowd! Another syndicate bought the winning pig, so won half their money back – what fun! It was also lovely to meet Eileen whose delicious jams and pickles are permanently on sale at the pub. Her gift packs are an ideal gift with Christmas coming up.

But what was happening inside the pub while all this was happening outside? Well the charming ladies behind the bar, yes that’s Cheryl, and smiling bar helpers, were hard-pressed to keep up with the demand. Relaxed punters spilled out on to the shady verandahs, and everyone seemed to have found their rhythm for the day.

As we reluctantly bid farewell to the fun to head back to Toowoomba, we were sure that the bids for the party pigs would rise in line with the amount of drinking that was happening throughout the afternoon. I can’t wait to find out the fund-raising efforts of the whole community’s efforts.

Well done Quinalow – Jacko lives on in all your hearts!