Toowoomba has amped up its street cred because of First Coat.
It’s not often you see someone painting the town red, or get the chance to look down laneways and see scaffolding supporting a young man or woman going to town with spray cans – and not in an illegal way. We are not looking at urban vandals here – we are seeing the artists of the 21st century.
Recently in the very tidy town of Toowoomba, in Queensland’s South East, the ‘First Coat’ festival was held for the fourth year in succession.
From the first First Coat, the event has been a resounding triumph for the artists (local and invited interstate and international); art lovers and the town itself.
Toowoomba for decades has had an impeccable reputation as an example of classic Federation buildings, wide-streets laced with charming old-school emporiums and chic boutiques, a respected university and gardens so fine that folk come for the garden festival and to immerse themselves in the beauty of the public and Japanese gardens every year. The town has a comfortable sense of success, honouring its benefactor – agriculture.
And now Toowoomba has amped up its street cred because of First Coat. And judging by the ages of the people doing the weekend rounds of backstreets and lanes, everyone from young families to wannabe hipsters and wall art fans to the much older crowd who are lapping it up as happily as a flower show.
This year’s festival got off to a damp start on the Friday – rain is not the wall artists’ friend. With damp air and paint on the run, the artists did as much as they could and headed for the launch party. And as the sun shone through on a beautiful Saturday – the walls of downtown Toowoomba came alive with more than 26 new murals emerging.
From glorious plumed birds, to abstract, bold graphic images, social comment, lifelike and larger than life-size portraits, animals taking the centre spot on a wall and beautiful shapes emerging to be wolves, or bears or . . .who knows . . .the walls spoke.
With the community fully behind First Coat ‘Choose Your Adventure’ this year, workshops, gatherings, talks, music and the wonderful world of wall art – the festival momentum in Toowoomba of an outdoor art gallery for everyone has excited the region and celebrates the spirit of creativity.
Let the walls tell the story.
If you aren’t driving (and it’s a 90 minutes drive from Brisbane), best fly in. Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport is an architecturally snazzy regional airport and you can take flights between Toowooomba and Brisbane; Melbourne; Sydney and Cairns. So, mad if you don’t fly the easy way. Qantaslink flew the writer from Sydney to Toowoomba.
Potters Hotel, Toowoomba is quality accommodation with an excellent restaurant for breakfast and great evening dining. You are a stone’s throw from the newly refurbished Grand Central Shopping Centre, two minutes walk from the CBD and a 15-minutes drive to Wellcamp Airport.
Junk is the hotspot for brilliant Asian food.
The Bakers Duck for the most brilliant buttery pastries and superb bread. Get there early on a Saturday morning and soak up the aroma of butter and happiness.
For dinner, head to The Office for all things gourmet – fish, fowl, and meat with flair! And behind the office is a cool, tiny bar – The Chelsea for an exotic cocktail or two. And for something a little more casual – Artisan Pizza will fill the gap.
AND . . .
Take a tour of the architectural and historical Empire Theatre; stroll through Queens Park; try the various cafes along the main streets and now popping up in laneways – the coffee’s damn good in Toowoomba.
More information, visit: www.southernqueenslandcountrytourism.com.au