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Overview

This commuter town for Toowoomba began as a timber town, with a number of sawmills in the surrounding area. However, this changed as the forests were cleared and, instead, dairy cattle grazed where tall trees once stood. While the names of the post office and school were changed to Koojarawon in the late 1800s/early 1900s, the protests of residents saw the name changed back to Highfields.

Although the town’s population hasn’t changed much over the last few years, between 2001 and 2011 the number of residents more than doubled, making it the fastest growing region in Queensland. The recent expansion of amenities, particularly for sports, has made the town a popular place for young families.

  • Population – 8,131
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander percentage of population – 2.3%
  • Closest major town/city – Toowoomba (12 km)
  • Distance from airport – 28 km (Toowoomba); 154 km (Brisbane)
  • Cinemas – 0
  • Cafes/restaurants – 9
  • Pubs/bars – 1
  • Primary schools – 3
  • Secondary schools – 3
  • Tertiary education providers – 0
  • Annual average maximum temperature – 23.1°C
  • Annual average minimum temperature – 12.6°C

The location

Just 12 km north of Toowoomba on the New England Highway, Highfields has farmland to its west while, to the east, the Great Dividing Range makes an impressive backdrop to the town.

The people

Highfields’ median age of 42 is a few years higher than state and national levels, however, this is deceptive as almost 30 percent of the population are aged under 20. There are substantially fewer people in their 20s and 30s than the rest of Queensland, though somewhat higher numbers in the 45–74 age range.

Not surprisingly in a town with so many children, the number of adults in married or de facto relationships is significantly higher than the rest of the country. More than 85 percent of residents were born in Australia, and around 45 percent self-identify as either Catholic or Anglican.

The medicine

Highfields’ health needs are provided by two general practice clinics – Highfields & District Medical Centre and Village Medical Centre. The nearby Toowoomba Hospital offers a wide range of specialist, community and allied health services.

In general, the health profile in Highfields is not disadvantaged. The number of elderly people and the associated chronic disease burden is slightly below average, and household incomes are generally above the state average. The main concern is lifestyle factors. While smoking prevalence is about average and over half the population get enough exercise, more than 60 percent are an unhealthy weight and alcohol consumption is quite high.

Highfields is in the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN and is rated RA2.

Education

There are options for education of all levels in Highfields, including several day care centres and kindergartens. The state schools in town are Highfields State School (primary) and Highfields State Secondary College, which was only opened in 2015. If a Christian education is preferred, both Mary MacKillop Catholic College and Toowoomba Christian College cater for students from Prep to Year 12.

For education beyond secondary school, the closest option is the University of Southern Queensland in nearby Toowoomba.

Career options for partners

With Toowoomba being only 12 km away, many residents of Highfields commute to the city for work. Rates of both full-time and part-time work amongst the town’s workforce are slightly higher than those for the state, and at 4.6 percent Highfields’ unemployment rate is 3 percent lower than the whole of Queensland. More than 23 percent of locals work in professional careers, with the largest employment sectors being education and health. About a third of the workforce work part-time.

Townspeople appear to be quite community-minded, as more than a quarter of those aged 15 or over reported having undertaken volunteer work at some time in the 12 months before the 2016 census.

Arts and culture

For a glimpse into local history, Highfields Pioneer Village is the place to go. As well as more than 60 restored buildings, there are a number of unusual displays to view, including transport, fire brigade and ambulance museums. The Highfields Cultural Centre serves as a meeting place for local groups and is also an ideal spot for conferences or performances.

Those interested in learning to dance or play a musical instrument will find a couple of options in Highfields, though Toowoomba offers a wider choice. Toowoomba is also where the nearest cinemas are located for watching the latest movie releases.

Great outdoors

Highfields has around 20 parks, so there is plenty of outdoor space for residents to enjoy. They range from simple open areas to sportsgrounds, parks with picnic facilities, barbecues or playgrounds, through to bush reserves. Peacehaven Botanic Park has hundreds of species of plants native to rainforest, wetlands and grasslands. It also features a lake, frog pond and nature play area. Charles and Motee Rogers Bushland Reserve is a wildlife refuge consisting of remnant dry rainforest and is classified as an endangered ecosystem. There is a 1.2 km walking trail around the reserve. Other parks for bushwalking are Williams Park and Highfields Falls Bushland.

Outside of town, Lockyer National Park to the east is mainly undeveloped but is a good place for remote bushwalking, four-wheel driving or trail bike riding; however camping is not allowed. There are also a few state forests in the vicinity. For boating or fishing, Lake Cooby, less than 20 km north, and Lake Cressbrook, about a 50 km drive to the northeast, are good spots to visit. There is a campground on Lake Cressbook’s shore.

If your idea of outdoor adventures tends more towards organised sports, there are plenty of options in town, including soccer, rugby, AFL, touch football, cricket, tennis, netball, volleyball, basketball, swimming and golf. There is also a skate park in the town. If you can’t find the sport you’re looking for in Highfields, there’s a good chance you’ll find it in nearby Toowoomba.

Social scene

The heart of the town’s social scene is the Highfields Tavern, which has live music and entertainment, gaming, meals and function rooms. The local sports teams are also a great way to socialise, with post-game celebrations or drowning of sorrows often taking place at the tavern. If there’s not enough happening in Highfields to keep you entertained, Toowoomba is always just a short drive away. However, if you prefer the relaxed atmosphere of a country pub to the city nightlife and you want a change from the tavern, the Farmer’s Arms Hotel in Cabarlah and Criterion Hotel in Meringandan are also both close enough for a night out.

For those who love to shop, the town’s retail hub includes the Highfields Plaza Shopping Centre and Highfields Village Shopping Centre, as well as other local shops. The monthly Cabarlah Markets is a great place for locals to gather and shop for all sorts of items, including arts and crafts, fruit and vegies, and trash and treasure.

Food and drink

As well as meals and a social drink at the Highfields Tavern, there are a number of other dining options in town. In addition to several cafes and a bakery that are ideal for breakfast, lunch or a snack, the town has a few restaurants, including a couple serving Indian and Thai cuisine. Of course, with Toowoomba so close by, there are many other places to choose from there.

Housing

With the recent growth in Highfields and its proximity to Toowoomba, housing in the town can be quite expensive. The median price for a three-bedroom home is $433,000, with a rental of the same size costing around $390 per week. Dwellings are all separate houses or semi-detached townhouses. Blocks tend to be quite large, allowing room for a spacious house together with a good-sized yard.

Transport

Highfields has great road access since it sits right on the New England Highway, making it easy to drive to just about anywhere on the state highway network.

For public transport to Toowoomba, Bus Queensland runs several services each weekday. To go further afield, a few different companies operate buses between Toowoomba and Brisbane. While the town isn’t on a train line, Queensland Rail’s twice-weekly Westlander service that runs between Charleville and Brisbane stops in Toowoomba. For those who prefer to fly, Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport has flights to a number of Australian cities.

Other attractions

Broadband – Most of Highfields is connected to the National Broadband Network. Those parts not yet connected should be able to access NBN early in 2018.