Over the weekend I drove from Brisbane to Toowoomba to spend the weekend with one of my very closest friends. Getting away from home, even just overnight, is a really great mental refresher and a way to disconnect from the world around you. Being away from home and not seeing the same streets every day, the same people and going through the same routine has a way of clearing your mind and giving you a lot of perspective. That perspective is one of the things I love most about travel and has brought some really important things to the front of my mind like, ‘You should quit your job and write full time.’ Thanks mind! Great idea! Glad I could shut out the noise of the world and finally hear you.

Travel isn’t just about the big trips, planning weeks away overseas and spending lots on hotels and airfares. Travel can also be about getting away for a few days and taking some time out to disconnect from the world and reconnect with yourself. For me, travel doesn’t have to be big or expensive, it can be simple and close-by… after all, the little trips are the ones that keep you sane in-between your big adventures, right? Stolen weekends away to the beach, holed up in a cosy cottage in winter, strolling through farmers markets in the hinterland… it doesn’t have to be far away to be wonderful.

Wine and cheese platter

Even the drive out to Toowoomba was fun for me, a little bit of alone time in the car to listen to my music really loud, sing badly and practice my rap skills; on the off-chance, a rap battle ever pops up in my life and I need to throw down some sick rhymes. I don’t mind driving long distances, it feels great to have nothing but open road ahead of you and the constant feeling of moving forward and covering distance.

Arriving at Ellie’s house is like stepping into a hinterland retreat because she’s one of those people who is really chilled out, so their whole house feels really relaxed too. You know, that friend where you walk into their house, settle down in a chair and just sit there with a cup of tea or glass of wine and lose hours talking or just being near each other without talking. Don’t you just love those friends?!

I hadn’t spent longer than a few hours in Toowoomba before, so we jumped in her car and went on a driving tour around town. We went into the town centre and checked out the incredible street art which came about through First Coat, a 3-day street art festival that drew the likes of artists Ewok, Shida, Claire Matthews and my favourite, Fintan Magee. A total of 19 artists had one weekend to paint 17 walls with incredible murals and it has brought the town to life. Huge pieces of art taking up the entire sides of buildings pop up out of nowhere, teamed with old shop fronts and smaller pieces tucked down alleyways, like this one below.

First Coat street art

We visited a few of the crystal and jewellery shops in the city centre then headed out to one of the many great op-shops in town. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love op-shopping and vintage shopping, it’s fun digging through all the weird, wacky and odd clothes trying to find the one or two good things buried among it all. We jumped back in the car and drove the 15 minutes to The Chocolate Cottage and Cafe, just up the road at Highfields. They have a cake cabinet that will give new meaning to your life including mud cakes, cheesecakes and other yummy things I’d never heard of. Hint: the baked cheesecake is amazing!

Out the back of the cafe, there’s a huge grassy area with heaps of tables spread out, giving you space to sit under the shade of a tree and have a coffee and catch up, without sitting too close to anyone else.

With tummies full of cake, we drove up to the bead shop and bought some very cool and amazingly cheap beads to make some simple, easy necklaces with that afternoon. They have two big spaces filled with different kinds of beads and trinkets from wood to plastic and everything in-between. All my beads and materials cost $4.30 and I made three necklaces, an absolute bargain. Who needs expensive jewellery when you can make your own so easily and affordably? It’s a great outlet for your creativity too.

That afternoon we sat out in the garden soaking in the afternoon sun with a big cheese platter full of yummy fresh vegetables, cheeses, artichoke dip, hummus and a glass of wine. It’s moments like those when you completely lose track of the time that makes all the difference in life. When you’re surrounded by the people you love and don’t have a care in the world, it’s what self-love is all about. Giving yourself permission to have a whole lot of fun and not care about anything else.

The next morning we rode our bikes around town and took a walk through the local markets with some cool little arts and crafts, fudge and clothing stalls, among others. We got coffee from The Park House Cafe, the perfect spot to grab a takeaway cappuccino and a muffin then retreat to the park across the road and find a cosy spot under a big tree. Riding our bikes through the park we came across a local bike gang, comprised solely of 10-year-old boys who call themselves ‘The Hot Wheels’. They rule the streets of Toowoomba in a firm but fair way and are easily distracted by ice-cream trucks.

The weekend went way too fast and before I knew it I was heading home again. Coming back home I felt really appreciative of our little apartment and all the things that make our home ours. It wasn’t a flashy weekend and we ate mostly at home, having homemade pizzas and wine for dinner on Saturday night, but it was the perfect little break.

Taking some time out like that is so good for you mentally, it just gives you space and time you need to clear out and refocus. It gives you perspective on all the things going on in your life, the positives and the challenges. If you’re craving some time out and need a mental break, ask a friend who lives out-of-town if you can come and stay over or find a cheap motel or holiday park to crash at for the night. You definitely deserve the time out and you’ll feel a million times better for treating yourself to a mini-break.

Here are some Toowoomba resources to help you plan your own trip!

Need some inspiration to visit Toowoomba? Watch this…

Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.

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