Located only 5 km to Brisbane’s west at the base of Mt Cootha and on the bank of Brisbane River, Toowong (4066) is a mix of a central commercial district anchored by an office tower and shopping centre built in 1986 and surrounded by high density and detached residential. It is the home to Brisbane’s first and largest cemetery opened in 1875. In the 1920s, it also became home to Brisbane Boys’ College. Because of its proximity to the University of Queensland, and large resident student population, Toowong has several historic hotels, the Regatta and the Royal Exchange which are not only well-known drinking establishments but also the site of a protest in 1965 against male-only public bars.
In 1861 pastoral leases were sold as smaller lots. One early settler, Richard Drew created a subdivision named ‘Village of Toowong’ in 1865 which rapidly developed with the advent of rail from Ipswich in 1875. Originally, Toowong’s residents were a close-knit elite professional class who owned their detached traditional Queensland homes on large blocks and commuted to the city for work. Trams were extended into the area in 1903 and operated until 1962.
Toowong has a number of parks, one with a memorial to honour World War I soldiers, others with sporting facilities. A portion of parkland adjacent to what is now the Western Freeway began as cemetery grounds was converted to a rifle range in 1877, then became the site of the current Botanical Gardens and Planetarium. The iconic Toowong baths, complete with grandstands and dressing sheds were first built in 1909, upgraded in the 1920s but later demolished in 2001 to make way for an office tower. Similarly, Toowong’s library built in 1961 and designed by the same architect, James Birrell is a landmark because of its clever design of intersecting circles with skylights. Concerted resident action prevented its closure in 1982 and it is now heritage listed and serves as business premises.
Toowong’s residents are very actively involved in their community with the formation of an association in 1999 to protest against overdevelopment in the area. The group campaigned unsuccessfully against the demolition of the historic Toowong Pool but was successful in preserving the Library. It also successfully lobbied for construction of a safe crossing over the Western Freeway to access walking and cycle trails at Mt Cootha. Another group has formed a community vegetable garden open to the public in 2005. Toowong also has a multitude of sporting groups, namely one of Queensland’s oldest scout troops founded in 1908 and several major football clubs.
Toowong is a busy vibrant transport hub with regular bus and rail access to Brisbane, Ipswich, and surrounding suburbs. In particular, there are also shuttle buses directly to the University. For private transport, major roads not only access the city but also connect with the Western Freeway to suburbs south and west but also the InnerCity Bypass and the Gateway to the airport, northern suburbs, and the Sunshine Coast. Brisbane City and other river suburbs can also be access by