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Laurel Bank Park

  • 650083
  • cnr West Street, Hill Street and Herries Street, Toowoomba City


State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
30 November 2018
Defence: Military camp
Parks / Gardens / Trees: Garden - public
Parks/gardens/trees: Garden—private
Parks/gardens/trees: Public park/reserve
Recreation and Entertainment: Croquet lawn/clubhouse
2.9 Exploiting, utilising and transforming the land: Valuing and appreciating the environment and landscapes
3.12 Developing secondary and tertiary industries: Catering for tourists
6.3 Building settlements, towns, cities and dwellings: Developing urban services and amenities
7.6 Maintaining order: Defending the country
8.4 Creating social and cultural institutions: Festivals
8.5 Creating social and cultural institutions: Sport and recreation
Construction periods
1904–1943, Floral Display Area (pre-1943)
1904–1943, Circular garden beds (pre-1943)
1904–2018, Landscaping, including: mature trees, avenues, perimeter plantings, hedges, bulb and rose gardens
1934, Commemoration Gates (1934)
1935–1939, Laurel Bank Croquet Club: two Croquet Lawns (1935; fenced 1939)
1938, Laurel Bank Croquet Club: Clubhouse (1938)
1943–1945, Mess Hall (former) (c1943-45)
Historical period
1900–1914 Early 20th century
1914–1919 World War I
1919–1930s Interwar period
1939–1945 World War II


cnr West Street, Hill Street and Herries Street, Toowoomba City
Toowoomba Regional Council
-27.56243831, 151.94423854


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

Laurel Bank Park is important in demonstrating the evolution of Queensland’s private gardens and public parks. A privately owned garden established in 1904 by prominent Toowoomba resident, Samuel George Stephens, the property was gifted to the Toowoomba City Council in 1932 for use as a public park, providing rest, beauty and passive recreation for residents and visitors.

Laurel Bank Park retains important surviving evidence of the early layout of the park, including pathways, mature plantings and formal gardens, and long-term recreational use by the croquet club (1934).

Laurel Bank Park is important as a fine example of botanical amenity horticulture and the popular practice of importing exotic horticultural specimens during the early twentieth century. Many mature trees in the park demonstrate these practices, being cooler climate specimens imported from places such as China, Japan and South America.

The Mess Hall (former) (1943-45) is an important example of the Australian and United States military’s requirements for the provision of rest and recreation camps for troops during World War II (WWII). The Mess Hall (former) is a good, intact example of a ‘CA’ hut, built under the Allied Works Council’s prefabrication programme.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

Laurel Bank Park’s collection of mature and established cooler climate trees is thought to be most extensive in Queensland, and as such is uncommon. Many horticulturally important specimens planted by Stephens by the 1930s are considered significant, including several varieties of oak, cedar and maple trees and Chilean wine palms.   

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

Laurel Bank Park is important as an intact and representative example of a Queensland park established in the early twentieth century. It demonstrates the principal characteristics of its type through its: formal site configuration; axial paths; open lawn areas; mature trees and landscaping, often planted in avenues; floral arrangements; formal entry gates; and the provision of passive recreation facilities (evidenced by a croquet clubhouse, croquet lawns, and a regularly-reconfigured floral display area).   

The Mess Hall (former) is an intact example of a prefabricated mess hall, constructed by the Allied Works Council for the United States military during WWII. The building remains in its original location and is important in illustrating the principal characteristics of its type through: its prefabricated construction; gable roof with gable end vents; external cladding of timber chamferboards and flat sheets; timber stumps with metal ant-caps; timber-framed casement windows; internal wall and ceiling linings of flat sheets; timber floorboards; and large recreation and dining spaces, serviced by a kitchen, canteen, bathrooms and stores.  

Laurel Bank Croquet Club in its form and layout is a good, intact example of a croquet club, demonstrating the principal characteristics of its type through its: domestic-scale clubhouse, which provides shelter, amenity and a social space to club members, and the storage of equipment; and two manicured croquet lawns with perimeter fencing and shaded seating.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

Laurel Bank Park is aesthetically important for its beautiful attributes. The well-composed, attractive park provides a harmonious setting of mature exotic and native trees, flowering plants bedded in formal arrangements, hedges, lawns; original Commemoration Gates (1934); and open space; with views and vistas along landscaped avenues, axial pathways and from surrounding streets.

The strong aesthetic appeal of the park is demonstrated through the extensive and continuous use of images of the place in publications and travel guides promoting it as a beautiful park in Toowoomba and Queensland since the interwar period. Its popularity as a major tourist attraction in Toowoomba is particularly evident during the Carnival of Flowers, when its flowering displays are extensively photographed and appreciated by both the local community and tourists.

Criterion GThe place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

Laurel Bank Park has been highly valued by the Toowoomba community and horticultural enthusiasts since SG Stephens gifted the park to the city in 1932. As one of the city’s major attractions, it has a longstanding association with the city’s annual Carnival of Flowers festival, Toowoomba’s premier cultural event and Queensland’s longest running festival. The park’s continuous use as a place for passive recreation has been sustained since the 1930s.


Laurel Bank Park is a 4.3 hectare public park situated approximately 900m southwest from Toowoomba’s CBD, bounded by Herries, West and Hill streets. The park was donated to the city of Toowoomba in 1932 by local resident Samuel George Stephens (junior), after almost thirty years of developing the beautiful gardens. Within the park are many cold climate mature trees considered of horticultural importance. Two croquet lawns and a croquet clubhouse were added to the park in the 1930s. During World War II (WWII) the park was used as a United States Navy (USN) submariners’ rest and recreation camp, and the intact Mess Hall (former), is the only building remaining from the camp in the park. Since the 1930s, the picturesque park has been a major tourist attraction in Toowoomba and this continues today.

The Toowoomba area is the traditional land of the Giabal people.[1] The area was surveyed and sold for private development in 1853 and named Toowoomba in 1858. In July 1865 the first section of railway line in Queensland was opened to Ipswich, and by April 1867 a railway line reached Toowoomba. In 1887 Toowoomba was proclaimed a town.[2]

At an elevation of 700m above sea level, Toowoomba experiences cool temperatures throughout the year. The climate has enabled certain species of trees and plants, unable to be grown in warmer areas such as Brisbane, to flourish.[3] By the early 1920s the town was increasingly known as the ‘Garden City’, due to the large number of beautiful and well-established private gardens, its extensive street-tree plantings dating to the 1870s, and numerous landscaped parks.[4] Civic pride has been fostered by Toowoomba residents through their gardens and parks, reflected by the establishment of a series of garden competitions and festivals which took place from the early 1900s until the end of World War I.[5]

The Stephens family were important Toowoomba pioneers. Samuel George Stephens (senior) arrived in Toowoomba from Wales in 1863. SG Stephens played a role in the town’s progress. A successful businessman, he was one of the owners of the Darling Downs Gazette and a founder of the Darling Downs Building Society. Philanthropic pursuits included involvement in the establishment of the Toowoomba Grammar School, the Toowoomba hospital, the fire brigade and his parish church.[6] One of his major endeavours was the garden at his home ‘Llanwyn’, also in Herries Street, considered one of the most beautiful in Toowoomba at the time.[7] His son, Samuel George Stephens (junior), who was born in Toowoomba in 1872, inherited his father’s love of horticulture. Educated at Toowoomba Grammar School, he joined his father’s business, becoming managing director in 1909. He continued his father’s philanthropic commitment to community and charitable causes including the Toowoomba General Hospital, the Toowoomba Cemetery Trust, the Toowoomba School of Arts committee, and as a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty.[8]     

In 1904 Stephens purchased two lots of land totalling approximately 1087m² on Hill Street, West Toowoomba. Over the next 12 years he incrementally acquired another 44 lots creating an area of approximately 4 hectares, and removed existing houses from the properties.[9] By 1918 the majority of the block bounded by Hill, West and Herries streets was in Stephens’ ownership.[10] As the land was cleared, Stephens transformed it into an extensive garden which by 1934 was considered to be one of the most beautiful in Toowoomba.[11]  

As early as the mid-nineteenth century, there was a focus on the importation of exotic plant species to Queensland, attested by the establishment of the Queensland Acclimatisation Society in 1862 as well as several botanic gardens including the Brisbane City Botanical Gardens (1855). The foremost intention was to test the propagation potential of certain species that may be commercially suitable for Queensland’s fledgling agricultural industry. Trials on ornamental trees for civic and domestic spaces were also undertaken and these gardens became places of passive recreation for the public.[12]

During the interwar period, as suburban expansion increased throughout Australian cities, residents moved away from the crowded inner-city suburbs and into newly subdivided housing estates. A new focus on gardening emerged and the nursery industry boomed. There was a demand for both imported, exotic species as well as for native varieties. Specialist nurseries catered for this burgeoning demand.[13] Stephens established his garden amid this renewed vigour.

For almost 30 years Stephens worked tirelessly in his garden, designing its layout and displays, and planting and maintaining it.[14] He aspired to establish a garden that would give pleasure to people, rather than cultivating plants of commercial or scientific value, as was often the case in Queensland’s botanic gardens.[15]  

Stephens imported a wide variety of exotic, rare and valuable tree, plant and flower specimens for his garden. Contemporary reports described the gardens in 1932, as ‘a comprehensive collection of rare shrubs and plants, Japanese and Chinese importations … there are 5000 gladioli, comprising 400 kinds, and 2000 daffodils, consisting of 30 varieties. The bulbs total 25,000. Beds of flowers and trees are picturesquely arranged among well-kept lawns’.[16] As it developed, the garden was admired by Toowoomba residents[17] and Stephens soon became known to many as ‘the man of flowers’.[18] In 1932, when asked to comment on Stephens’ garden, the curator of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens [QHR 600067], Ernest William Bick, declared it was ‘the largest and most varied collection in Australia’.[19] Numerous species of oak, cedar, maple and palm trees were imported for the garden and many of these species were, at the time, considered to be very rare in Australia.[20] Over the years, Stephens supplied the Toowoomba hospital with his flowers.[21]

In 1932, Stephens gifted the garden to the people of Toowoomba as a public park.[22] The official opening ceremony on the 31 October 1932, was attended by Stephens, the Mayor, FJ Paterson, and several other dignitaries. The Mayor, on behalf of the citizens of Toowoomba, accepted the deeds, and his wife declared that ‘Mr Stephens had not spared time, money or experience in making the garden one of the most beautiful in Australia’.[23]

On handing the garden to the Council, Stephens made several stipulations. The first was to have the park named ‘Laurel Bank’ as he did not want it to be named after him. Another was to allow a portion of the park to be used for tennis, croquet or basketball; no sport, however, was to be played in the park on Sundays, Good Friday and Anzac Day. Flowers from the park would continue to be supplied to the Toowoomba hospital.[24] At the time, it was reported that the improved property was valued at £10,000.[25]

To memorialise this generous donation to the city, commemoration gates were erected by the Council at the entrance to Laurel Bank Park in 1934. They consisted of locally-quarried bluestone pillars with decorative wrought-iron gates and 2 commemorative plaques. The official dedication ceremony was held in June 1934 and was attended by the Mayor, JD Annand, and his wife. Stephens also attended and stated that ‘Laurel [Bank] Park was given to the people of Toowoomba for their benefit for ever’.[26]  

The donation of the park was a gesture uncommon in both the history of Toowoomba and the state. Other parks and gardens developed privately and now owned publically were generally acquired by the government, including Newstead Park, Brisbane [QHR 602265] and Thomas Park Bougainvillea Gardens at Indooroopilly [QHR 602838].[27] Stephen’s gift differed, as the fully established park was a donation to the Council; at the time, it was declared one of the most generous donations for Toowoomba and Queensland.[28]

Following agreements with Stephens and the Council, the Laurel Bank Croquet Club was formed in 1934 and was the third croquet club in Toowoomba.[29] It was agreed that a portion of Laurel Bank Park would be dedicated for two croquet lawns and a clubhouse. Fundraising for the club began almost immediately with garden parties and fetes held in the park. Two lawns were laid by March 1935 and timber benches installed.[30] Much of the work was undertaken as Depression-era relief work, provided by the Council.[31] The official opening ceremony in March 1935 was attended by Stephens, who was given the honour of striking the first ball, and stated that he hoped ‘the members would have much happiness and pleasure in using them’.[32]

After much effort, funds were eventually raised to begin the construction of a clubhouse to the design of architect Matthew C Williamson.[33] When completed in 1938, the new clubhouse was described as ‘a compact, cream-painted building, finished with touches of brown … it stands in a picturesque setting on green lawns, shade trees and flowering shrubs’.[34] The official opening on the 7 May 1938 was attended by Mayor Annand, state minsters and aldermen, as well as Stephens and Williamson. Timber seats around the lawns had been built by 1936 and the creepers to shade the seats also planted that year.[35] Timber fences surrounding both lawns were complete by 1939.[36]

Toowoomba was considered a mountain retreat for those attempting to escape the heat and humidity, abundant in other parts of Queensland.[37] To re-invigorate the city’s tourist potential a promotional campaign was carried out in 1931 by the Toowoomba Tourist Bureau ‘for the purpose of making an effort to attract visitors’.[38] The campaign proved successful and by 1938 Toowoomba experienced record numbers of tourists.[39] Over the next decade, a guidebook of several editions was produced.

Laurel Bank Park was one of the main attractions featured in the guidebook. Stephens’ generous donation to the city was always noted, as were the extensive and important plantings, ‘nowhere in Australia is to be found a finer collection of Japanese flowering plants ... There are trees and shrubs in Laurel Bank Park not to be found anywhere else in Australia’.[40] In 1940 the Darling Downs Centenary Souvenir, 1840-1940 featured Laurel Bank Park as one of Toowoomba’s most attractive parks.[41]

Following the United States of America’s entry into WWII, Brisbane became the strategic centre for planning for the South West Pacific Campaign. Military camps and infrastructure were swiftly constructed throughout Queensland and thousands of US and Australian troops awaited deployment to the Pacific.[42] Facilities for troops on rest and recreation leave (R&R) were also established. In Toowoomba, the US Navy (USN) built two R&R camps for submariners – one in Laurel Bank Park and the other in Newtown Park.[43] The main R&R camps for the USN were situated in Coolangatta, on the Gold Coast, but these do not survive.[44]

In Laurel Bank Park, a series of temporary timber camp buildings were erected in the northwest and southeast corner of the park. A mess hall was also built on a lawn situated behind a curved avenue of palm trees fronting Hill Street. The camp could accommodate up to 100 enlisted men.[45] The construction of the camp buildings was organised through the Allied Works Council (AWC) and carried out by the Department of Public Works.[46]

The design of the Mess Hall (former) followed the AWC’s standard design, the pre-cut ‘CA’ type, which was widely used throughout Australia.[47] The basic module of the ‘CA’ type was for sleeping or stores huts and could be adapted to other uses. It was rectangular in plan, raised on stumps, made with a timber frame, various wall claddings and a gable roof. They were designed to be made of readily available local materials and constructed by local contractors using common building techniques. Tens of thousands of ‘CA’ type huts were built across Australia during WWII. At war’s end, the Commonwealth Disposals Commission sold many of ‘CA’ huts, which were either relocated or demolished.    

Stephens died in 1944 before he could witness the park returned to its pre-WWII beauty. In September 1945, his sister, Miss MR Stephens wrote a letter to the Town Clerk conveying her brother’s sadness over the military buildings in the park, and stressed that these structures should be removed. She was sure the citizens of Toowoomba ‘would rejoice to have Laurel Bank again as a place of rest and beauty’.[48]

By 1947 the majority of the camp buildings had been removed from the park. Many of them were relocated by the Council to a site a few kilometres away on the corner of West and Fanny streets, to be converted into homes for the aged.[49] Others were sold to various church and community groups and moved off site.[50] The Mess Hall (former) was retained in the park as a community hall. It was initially used by the YWCA and the West Toowoomba Progress Association and later as a dance venue and for wedding receptions.[51] The hall continues to be an important community centre in Toowoomba.

In a public meeting in the Toowoomba town hall in September 1949, a decision was made to revive the garden competitions and festivals.[52] The first ‘Carnival of Flowers’ was held in October 1950 and was a resounding success, with more than 50,000 people lining the main street to watch the opening parade.[53] Since then, the carnival has continued every year and is visited by thousands of people from around the state and the country. It is Queensland’s longest running annual festival.[54]

Laurel Bank Park featured as a main attraction during the carnival with the Council planting thousands of flowers in the park for the event.[55] In the 1951 souvenir brochure, the park was included on the official programme with a band scheduled to play in the park on Sunday afternoon.[56] In subsequent souvenir brochures, the park was also featured as an attraction not to be missed.[57]

Within the park are numerous horticulturally important cold climate trees Stephens imported from other countries. Several of these have been identified in the National Trust of Australia’s Significant Tree Register; an Oak (Lithocarpus Spp), Mori Oak (Quercus Morii), a Bristle-toothed Oak (Quercus Acutissima), an English Oak (Quercus Robur), and an avenue of Chilean Wine Palms (Jubaea Chilensis). All of these trees are identified as regionally important.[58] Laurel Bank Park is also listed on the Australian Government’s Directory of Australian Botanic Gardens, along with Toowoomba’s Queens Park and Botanic Gardens [QHR 601607].[59]

In 1980 the Scented Gardens were established in the southeast corner of the park. It was an initiative by the Toowoomba City Council and the Rotary Club of Toowoomba East to provide a scented garden for people with visual impairments. The rose garden, wisteria arbour, picnic shelter, viewing platform, southern toilet block, children’s playground and topiaries were introduced to the garden in the 1990s.

In 2018, Laurel Bank Park is a prominent attraction for locals, tourists, and horticultural enthusiasts and is listed on the Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor and Southern Queensland Country travel websites as one of the ‘top things to do’ in Toowoomba; with the park particularly popular during the city’s annual Carnival of Flowers.[60] The Laurel Bank Croquet Club continues to be a valuable community sporting facility close to the centre of Toowoomba. Stephens’ collection of important trees are considered to be of high horticultural value. The traditional layout of the gardens continue to reflect Stephens’ intention for the park to be a place of rest and beauty.


Laurel Bank Park is 4.3ha public park used for recreation, gardening and public events, and located approximately 800m southwest of Toowoomba Railway Station [QHR 600872]. The formal entrance to the park is via West Street (west), with other sides of the site bounded and accessed by Hill Street (north), Laurel Lane, residential properties, and disability support services (east), and Herries Street (south). The park is largely an open space with turf, garden beds, established trees and buildings.  

Features of state-level cultural heritage significance within the park include:

footpaths and site arrangement, including axes and sightlines through the park from surrounding streets

  • Commemoration Gates (1934)
  • Floral Display Area (pre-1946)
  • Laurel Bank Croquet Club (1935-38)
  • Mess Hall (former) (c1943-45)
  • established trees
  • garden beds of flowering plants
  • open lawn areas


The park landscaping is manicured and includes established exotic and native trees, shrubs, flowering plants, and expanses of lawns.

Landscape features also of state-level cultural heritage significance include:

specimen trees:

  • Oaks (Quercus spp.), including English, Spanish and tropical varieties; in particular:
  • English oak tree (Quercus robur), at the east end of the park, north of the east-west footpath,
  • Saw-toothed oak tree (Quercus acutissima), south of the Mess Hall and north of the east-west footpath Mori oak tree (Quercus morii), west of the Mess     Hall  (former)
  • Oak (Lithocarpus sp.), at the east end of the park, north of the east-west footpath and west of the English oak tree
  • Chilean wine palms (Jupaea chilensis) west of the Mess Hall (former)

Other established trees, including, but not limited to:

  • Asian white and golden oak trees (Quercus spp.)
  • Himalayan cedars (Cedus deodara)
  • Japanese maples (Acer palmatum)
  • Ginkos / maidenhairs (Ginko biloba)
  • Jacarandas (Jacaranda spp.)


  • Argentinian jelly palms (Butia capitata)
  • Canary Island date palms (Phoenix canariensis)
  • Bottle Trees (Brachychiton rupestris)
  • avenue plantings (including remnants of avenue plantings and rounded avenues)
  • perimeter plantings along the north, west and south park boundaries

hedges, including:

  • species of Photinia
  • Black ridge oak (Quercus phillyreoides) – part of the south perimeter hedges
  • Chinese evergreen oak trees (Quercus myrsinifolia) – part of the park’s perimeter hedges
  • bulb gardens and rose beds (specific locations are not of state level significance)
  • three circular garden beds (pre-1943), west of the Mess Hall (former)

Footpaths and Site Arrangement

Two footpaths run through the park and define its geometric and formal site arrangement. They are the primary circulation routes, providing strong sight-lines to and from the surrounding streets and through the park. They run between:

  • Commemoration Gates on West Street and Laurel Lane (east-west through the centre of the site)
  • Hill Street and Herries Street (north-south through the east end of the site)

Commemoration Gates (1934)

The Commemoration Gates are centred on the West Street boundary, marking the formal entrance to the park. The gates comprise four blue-stone pillars with squared stone capping of a lighter colour and wrought iron gates. They commemorate SG Stephens.

Two stone plaques, dated 30 October 1932 (park gifted to the city) and 30 June 1934 (gates opened), are mounted on the two central pillars.

Floral Display Area (pre-1943)

The Floral Display Area is an approximately rectangular space at the northwest end of the site. A focal point of the park, gardens in this area are regularly reconfigured, themed, and bedded with flowering plants for display (particularly for Toowoomba’s annual Carnival of Flowers).  

Features of the Floral Display Area also of state-level cultural heritage significance include:

  • open space, divided by formal and distinct planter beds
  • the use of flowering plants, bedded in formal arrangements
  • hedges (west and south sides)

Laurel Bank Croquet Club (1935-1939)

The Laurel Bank Croquet Club is located on the southwest side of the park. It comprises a croquet clubhouse (1938) with two croquet lawns (1935) to the northeast and northwest.  

The clubhouse is a rectangular, timber-framed structure, set on a stone base and sheltered by a hip roof with a projecting northern gable. Externally, it is approximately symmetrical and its northern verandah is approached by small stairs at the east and west.

Features of the croquet club also of state-level cultural heritage significance include:

two croquet lawns, with their:

  • manicured lawns, set out in a rectangular form
  • timber perimeter fences (1939)
  • timber seats, shaded by creeper plantings (1936)

croquet clubhouse, with its:

  • tiled roof cladding, and timbered gable-end detailing
  • blue stone base
  • timber chamferboard exterior wall cladding
  • flat sheet ceiling linings with squared timber battens to interior and verandah
  • internal layout: a rectangular club room, serviced by a kitchen at the northeast end of the building and bathroom at southeast end of the building
  • V-jointed (VJ) timber interior wall lining
  • timber joinery: picture rails; casement windows (east and west), double-hung windows (north); top-hung awning windows (south); sliding window (kitchen); inbuilt VJ-lined seat housing an equipment store (along south internal wall); panelled doors (to toilet and kitchen); and VJ-lined cupboard (toilet)
  • north verandah: timber posts, vertical-slat timber balustrade, and timber lattice between verandah posts at the east and west ends

Mess Hall (former) (c1943-45)

The Mess Hall (former) is located at the northeast end of the site, east of the Floral Display Area. It is a single-storey, prefabricated, timber-framed hall, of the Allied Works Council’s ‘CA’ type. The building is approximately ‘T’-shaped in plan, has perpendicular gable roofs, and remains in its original location, which is uncommon. It is accessed via a northern verandah, with secondary entrances to the east (concrete stair) and west (recent ramp). A brick chimney protrudes from the east end of the building. Evidence of its prefabrication is visible in the roof trusses (internally exposed at the south end of the building), paired eaves brackets, and notches in timber floor joists. 

The interior comprises a dining room (former) and recreation room (former), entered via the front verandah. Located at the west, the dining room is the larger of the two spaces and features a raised platform at the south end. East of the dining room is the recreation room, and south of the dining room is a servery (former canteen), kitchen and store rooms (former scullery and store).  

Original additions to the standard mess hall plan include: a front verandah enclosure forming a ticketing office; toilets and store rooms south of the recreation room (excluding some recent toilet partitions); and an enclosure to the southeast verandah.

Features of the Mess Hall (former) also of state-level cultural heritage significance include:

  • exterior chamferboard-clad walls (below sill-height) and flat sheet-clad walls with squared cover-strips (above sill height)
  • timber and brick stumps with metal ant-caps
  • concrete down-stands to sub-floor
  • vents at the apex of gable-ends
  • interior layout as described above
  • interior flat sheet-lined walls and ceilings with wide, square cover-strips
  • timber floor
  • timber joinery: casement windows; fixed and operable louvres; fixed windows with obscure glass (kitchen / western hall); bi-fold windows (servery); VJ-lined doors; dual entry doors; high-waisted doors; roof access door (kitchen); early cabinetry, shelving and cupboards (to servery, kitchen, store and ticketing office)
  • large metal range-hood hung in the kitchen
  • brick fireplace and chimney in the recreation room
  • ceiling-mounted light switches with pull chord in the recreation room
  • wall-mounted dome light switches
  • front verandah: timber floor; unlined ceiling with exposed rafters and roof sheeting; timber two-rail balustrade
  • east verandah: concrete floor, concrete stairs, and metal rail balustrade

Features not of State-level heritage significance

Features within Laurel Bank Park that are not considered to be of state-level heritage significance include:

  • All buildings and structures not previously mentioned: tourist information booth, southeast toilet block, shade structures; barbeques; footpath between northwest entrance and Floral Display Area; bitumen car parks; toilet blocks; and recent east entry gate
  • bitumen and concrete surfaces of footpaths
  • blue-stone and concrete-edged garden beds
  • Commemoration Gate’s: recent metal banner and support posts, stretching between the two central pillars, reading, ‘LAUREL BANK PARK’
  • the Floral Display Area’s: raised viewing platform (south end); planting arrangement; and specific planter beds, including metal perimeter barriers and timber sleepers
  • Croquet Club’s: lean-to storeroom (west end of Clubhouse); recent flush panel leaves of front door; externally-exposed pipes; and metal mesh along the croquet lawns’ perimeter fencing
  • Mess Hall’s: southern skillion-roofed addition; concrete ramp and timber trellis leading to the north entry; and folding door leaves between the dining and recreation rooms
  • Scented Garden and associated structures (c1980s)
  • rubbish bins
  • recent kitchen, kitchenette and bathroom fitouts
  • linoleum floor linings
  • air-conditioning systems
  • recent tree plaques featuring botanical labels


[1] Toowoomba Regional Council, ‘Indigenous History’, <> accessed July 2018.
[2] QHR 600865, Toowoomba City Hall, Department of Environment and Science.
[3] In 1860 the town’s first mayor and early pioneer, William Groom, had lobbied the colonial government for a recreational reserve for the town, which was eventually granted in 1869 and by the late 1870s had become Toowoomba’s Queens Park and Botanic Gardens. In 1875 a curator was appointed and, with the assistance of the curator of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Walter Hill, a public recreational park was established, as well as a botanic garden intended for experimental planting for scientific and commercial purposes; QHR 601607, Toowoomba Queens Park and Botanic Gardens, Department of Environment and Science; Jean Sim, ‘Queen’s Parks in Queensland’, Queensland Review, Volume 19, Issue 1, 2012, p.17; Queensland Places, ‘Toowoomba’, University of Queensland, <> accessed June 2018.
[4] QHR 601607, Toowoomba Queens Park and Botanic Gardens, Department of Environment and Science.
[5] Brisbane Courier, 17 November 1906, p.5; Maurice French, Toowoomba: A Sense of History, 1840-2008, University of Southern Queensland, 2009, p.277.
[6] Western Star and Roma Advertiser, 9 December 1939, p.1; Australian Dictionary of Biography, ‘Alfred George Stephen (1865-1933), <> accessed July 2018.
[7] This was attested in an 1879 newspaper article stating that the garden ‘is one of the neatest and most complete in its arrangements of any in Toowoomba’; Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser, 15 September 1879, p.3.
[8] Western Star and Roma Advertiser, 9 December 1939, p.1.
[9] Telegraph, 29 September 1932, p.6.
[10] Certificate of Titles, Natural Resources and Mines, Queensland Government; Stephens acquisition of land RP 16227 - 1904 – L59, L60; 1905 – L51, L52, L53, L54, L55, L56, L57, L58; 1906 – L61, L62; 1908 – L49, L50; 1909 – L21, L22, L23, L24; 1910 – L29, L30; 1913 – L42; 1914 – L46, 47, 48/ 3; 1915 – L25, L26, L27, L28, L38, L39, L41, L37, 36, 35/ 1,2,3,4,5; 1917 – L43, L44, L45; 1918 – L31, L32, L33, L34, L37, 36, 35/6.
[11] Toowoomba Tourist Bureau, Toowoomba: Queensland’s Ideal Holiday Mountain Resort, 1934, Toowoomba Tourist Bureau, p.46.
[12] QHR 601523, Bowen Park, Department of Environment and Science.
[13] Richard Aitken and Michael Looker, ‘Australia, 1918-1945’, The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens, Australian Garden History Society, Oxford University Press, Victoria, 2002, p.45.
[14] French et al, Toowoomba: A Sense of History, 1840-2008, p.273.
[15] Peter Griggs, “Creating Shady Places: Street Tree-planting and Public Garden Formation in Queensland’s Towns and Cities, 1850-1914”, Queensland History Journal, Volume 22, No. 6. August 2014, p.445; Telegraph, 29 September 1932, p.6.
[16] Brisbane Courier, 1 November 1932, p.21.
[17] Sydney Mail, 5 October 1932, p.41.
[18] Catherine Brower, Susan Hill, Judith Nissen, Heritage Gardens in Queensland: A Survey of Queensland’s Parks, Gardens, Trees and Other Designed Landscapes, Australian Garden History Society, 2013, p.72.
[19] Brisbane Courier, 1 November 1932, p.21.
[20] Brisbane Courier, 1 November 1932, p.21; Toowoomba Tourist Bureau, Toowoomba: Queensland’s Ideal Holiday Mountain Resort, 1934, Toowoomba Tourist Bureau, p.46.
[21] Brisbane Courier, 7 September 1932, p.13.
[22] Toowoomba Chronicle, 7 September 1932, p.7; Brisbane Courier, 7 September 1932, p.13.
[23] Brisbane Courier, 1 November 1932, p.21.
[24] ‘Letter from SG Stephens to Toowoomba Mayor’, 31 August 1932, QSA Item ID 1368203, Correspondence 1932-1949; Brisbane Courier, 7 September 1932, p.13; Sydney Mail, 5 October 1932, p.41.
[25] Brisbane Courier, 1 November 1932, p.21.
[26] Courier Mail, 2 July 1934, p.19.
[27] Others such as Myall Park Botanic Gardens [QHR 602805] remain managed by a volunteer board of directors. A further Toowoomba garden property developed privately and donated to the University of Queensland in 1969, Boyce Gardens [QHR 601311] is devoted to the propagation, preservation and study of native species, and while not publically owned, is publically accessible.
[28] Brisbane Courier, 1 November 1932, p.21.
[29] This club followed the establishment of two earlier clubs, Toowoomba and Toowoomba West; History of the Laurel Bank Croquet Club, <> accessed July 2018.
[30] ‘Letter from Town Clerk to Laurel Bank Park Croquet Club’, 14 June 1935, QSA Item ID 1368203, Correspondence 1932-1949.
[31] French et al, Toowoomba: A Sense of History, 1840-2008, p.201; Telegraph, 18 May 1931, p.6; Queensland Historical Atlas, ‘Depression Era’,<> accessed July 2018.
[32] When first opened, the club had twenty-six members; Toowoomba Chronicle, 18 March, 1935; History of the Laurel Bank Croquet Club, <> accessed July 2018.
[33] Further fundraising through events such as bridge nights, as well as generous donations from patrons, enabled the club to complete the construction of the clubhouse; History of the Laurel Bank Croquet Club, <> accessed July 2018; In October 1937 Williamson advertised a tender in the Architectural and Builders Journal of Queensland for ‘a croquet clubhouse at Toowoomba’; Architectural and Builders Journal of Queensland, ‘Tender Notice’, October 1937, p.22.
[34] Toowoomba Chronicle, 9 May 1938, History of the Laurel Bank Croquet Club, <> accessed July 2018.
[35] ‘Letter from Laurel Bank Croquet Club to Town Clerk’, 6 January 1936, QSA Item ID 1368203, Correspondence 1932-1949.
[36] ‘Letter from Town Clerk to Laurel Bank Park Croquet Club’, 20 February 1939, QSA Item ID 1368203, Correspondence 1932-1949.
[37] From as early as the 1900s, the Railway Department ran an excursion train from Brisbane to Toowoomba and back for southern tourists arriving by steamship in Brisbane, on their way to holiday in the Cairns region. The one-day trips included a driving tour of the city’s beauty spots taken by staff from the Toowoomba City Council; Darling Downs Gazette, 4 June 1909, p.4.
[38] Brisbane Courier, 5 August 1931, p.15.
[39] The campaign included advertisements placed in many newspapers, both state and interstate, as well as a publication of a promotional tourist guidebook that was first published in 1934, Toowoomba: Queensland’s Ideal Mountain Resort. Toowoomba’s charms included the cooler climate, scenic lookouts with panoramic views, and beautiful parks and gardens; Telegraph, 7 January 1938, p.11.
[40] Toowoomba Tourist Bureau, Toowoomba: Queensland’s Ideal Mountain Resort, Toowoomba Tourist Bureau, 1934, p.46.
[41] Darling Downs Centenary Souvenir, 1840-1940, McDonald and Rosbrook Pty Ltd, 1940, p.165.
[42] Queensland WWII Historic Places, ‘South West Pacific Campaign’, Department of Environment and Science, <> accessed July 2018.
[43] 15m north-west of Laurel Bank Park; French et al, Toowoomba: A Sense of History, 1840-2008, p.228.
[44] QHR 601129, Kissing Point Fortification and Jezzine Barracks (Part), Department of Environment and Science; Margaret Pullar, Prefabricated WWII Structures in Queensland, Environmental Protection Agency, July 1997; Queensland WWII Historic Places, ‘Coolangatta Leave Area and Rest Area for the United States Navy Submariners’, Department of Environment and Science, <> accessed August 2018.
[45] Submariner officers were quartered on the Gold Coast; Toowoomba’s residents welcomed the submariners and their hospitality was reported at the time in the Courier Mail, ‘here the men from battle stations have from 10 days to two weeks’ leave, single private rooms being provided free of charge. Toowoomba residents co-operative to provide service and entertainment’; Courier Mail, 22 August 1944, p.3.
[46] An estimated combined cost of the Toowoomba camps was £92,000; Allied Works Council Minutes, Meeting No. 232, 5 May, National Archives of Australia, BP1/1, Volume 6, 30 March 1943-21 May 1943; Allied Works Council Minutes, Meeting No. 278, 5 July, National Archives of Australia, BP1/1, Volume 21, 16 June 1942-30 August 1942.
[47] Allied Works Council, Report on the Activities of the Allied Works Council for the period of February 26, 1942 to June 30 1943, National Library of Australia, p.75.
[48] ‘Letter from MR Stephens to the Toowoomba Town Clerk’, 19 September 1945, QSA Item ID 1368203, Correspondence 1932-1949.
[49] Brisbane Courier, 7 November 1947, p.3.
[50] ‘Letter from Town Clerk to Scots Church Building Committee’, 16 December 1946, QSA Item ID 1368203, Correspondence 1932-1949.
[51] ‘Letter from the Town Clerk to the YWCA’, 28 January 1948, QSA Item ID 1368203, Correspondence 1932-1949; Queensland Country Life, 19 February 1948, p.7; Brisbane Telegraph, 17 June 1950, p.6.
[52] French et al, Toowoomba: A Sense of History, 1840-2008, pp.277-278.
[53] This heralded eight days of festivities focused on Toowoomba’s beautiful gardens, both public and private. Money raised from the carnival went to local charities. The following year, the date of the carnival was moved to September, to coincide with the school holidays; Queensland Times, 23 October 1950, p.4; Warwick Daily News, 23 October 1950, p.5. French et al, Toowoomba: A Sense of History, 1840-2008, p.278.
[54] QHR 601311, Boyce Gardens, Department of Environment and Science.
[55] Courier Mail, 26 June 1954, p.9.
[56] Carnival of Flowers Association, Jubilee Carnival of Flowers, 1951, p.11.
[57] Carnival of Flowers Association, Toowoomba – The Garden City, 1969.
[58] National Trust of Australia, Register of Significant Trees, <> accessed July 2018.
[59] ‘Laurel Bank Park’, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Australian Government, <> accessed August 2018.
[60] Trip Advisor, Top things to do [in Toowoomba], <> accessed August 2018; Lonely Planet, Top things to do [in Toowoomba], <> accessed August 2018; Southern Queensland Country, Toowoomba Attractions, <> accessed August 2018.

Image gallery


Location of Laurel Bank Park within Queensland
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Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
20 February 2022