Laidley is a small, growing town in the Lockyer Valley. It developed in the mid-1800s around an area used as a stopping point for travellers on the road between Ipswich and Toowoomba. Originally European settlers cleared the land for sheep-rearing, but today the area is a rich agricultural region mostly growing vegetables and fruit. Much of Australia’s beetroot is grown in the Laidley district. The surrounding area is good for anyone who enjoys outdoor activities, especially bushwalking and water sports.
- Population – 3,808
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander percentage of population – 4.8%
- Closest major town/city – Ipswich (43 km)
- Distance from airport – 78 km (Toowomba); 98 km (Brisbane)
- Cinemas – 0
- Cafes/restaurants – 7
- Pubs/bars – 3
- Primary schools – 2
- Secondary schools – 1
- Tertiary education providers – 0
- Annual average maximum temperature – 26.9⁰C
- Annual average minimum temperature – 13.0⁰C
At 41, the median age of Laidley’s residents is a few years more than the state figure. However, there is a higher number of mature-aged people and fewer in the 25–59 age bracket than for the rest of Queensland. In fact, 30 percent of the population are aged 60 or over. Half of the town’s adults are not married, in part due to the high number of widowed residents, almost twice the national level. It appears that many descendants of the area’s original German settlers have stayed in the district, with more than nine percent of today’s residents having German ancestry. This is three times more than for the whole of Australia.
The area around Laidley traditionally belongs to the Kitabul people. The Kitabul are part of the larger Yuggerabul language family, who occupied the area between the Brisbane and Caboolture river basins.
Laidley’s healthcare needs are met by three general practices: Laidley Family Doctors, The Lockyer Doctors and Kambu Laidley, which has a primary focus of providing health care to the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aged care services are provided by two nursing homes and a retirement village.
There is an ambulance station in the town as well as the 15-bed Laidley Hospital, whose services include emergency, general acute and palliative care, paediatrics, rehabilitation, oral health, physiotherapy, mental health, and alcohol and drug therapy.
Laidley’s health profile is significantly disadvantaged. Median income is well below state and national levels. Smoking prevalence is very high, and almost two-thirds of residents have an unhealthy weight. Diet is generally poor. The number of people aged 65 and over is also above average, leading to elevated rates of chronic disease.
Laidley is in the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN and is rated RA2.
Due to its small size, Laidley has a fairly limited range of schools, though there are four preschool and day care centres to choose from. For primary-aged students there is a state school (Laidley District State School) and the Catholic St Mary’s School, while secondary education is provided at Laidley State High School. For private secondary schooling, students would need to travel to Ipswich or Toowoomba.
Laidley is well situated for tertiary education, with both university and TAFE campuses in Toowoomba, Ipswich and Brisbane. Even closer is The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Gatton campus, which is recognised as one of Australia’s leading campuses for agriculture, veterinary science and the environment. There is also a training centre of Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges at the UQ campus.
Career options for partners
Levels of full-time employment amongst Laidley’s residents are significantly below state and national figures, with less than half of those in the labour force working full-time. However, part-time work is slightly more common than for other parts of the country. The unemployment rate in the town is high – 11.7 percent as compared to a state figure of 7.6 percent at the time of the 2016 census.
Residents are employed in a mixture of industries, with aged care services, grocery stores and road freight transport among the most common. The numbers of labourers and machinery operators are significantly higher than for the whole of Queensland, while there are fewer professional and managerial positions. However, with both Toowoomba and Ipswich being within commuting distance, there are likely to be options further afield.
For those wishing to undertake volunteer work, some options are the local community centre, Laidley Pioneer Village, Meals on Wheels and Brave Companion Dog Rescue.
Arts and culture
Many of the Laidley region’s early immigrants were German, and this heritage has given Laidley some distinctive architecture, seen especially in many of the town’s shop fronts. One of the town’s earliest and most distinctive buildings is Das Neumann Haus, originally built as a family home in the 1890s. Today it operates as a museum and cafe. The Laidley Pioneer Village and Museum also showcases the town’s history and includes an old school house, jail and blacksmith shop, as well as collections of agricultural machinery, buggies and wagons.
Laidley has a surprising amount going on for a small town. The Laidley Art Society meets weekly as well as offering tuition and organising regular exhibitions. There are dance classes available, including ballet, tap and jazz, or you can learn to play musical instruments such as piano and guitar. The town’s three-day Spring Festival is held each September and features a street parade, markets, craft expo and flower show, and there is also a Christmas carnival each year.
The Laidley area has no shortage of outdoor opportunities. The town itself has several parks, some with playgrounds, that are ideal for a picnic. Lions Park features Narda Lagoon and walking trails. You can take in the surrounding area’s sights by car via the Laidley Valley Scenic Drive, which follows Laidley Creek through farmland with the Mistake Mountains to the west and Little Liverpool Range to the east.
The region is a great place for those who enjoy the bush or water activities. There are a few national parks within easy driving distance of Laidley, with Main Range National Park a little over an hour’s drive to the south. It features a range of vegetation including rainforest and eucalypts and a wide variety of wildlife. There is a good selection of walking trails of varying lengths and classifications, some taking walkers to waterfalls or lookouts. There is also good remote bushwalking for experienced hikers. For those wanting to stay longer than one day, there are a couple of established campgrounds as well as bush camping areas.
For water sports enthusiasts, Lake Dyer (also known as Bill Gunn Dam) is on the western edge of town. It’s ideal for all sorts of water activities including swimming, sailing, power boating, skiing, kayaking and fishing. Or just head to the lake for a picnic or barbecue by the water. There is also a camping area by the lake. Another popular spot for camping, fishing and non-motorised boating is Lake Wivenhoe, just over an hour from town.
Laidley has several options if you’re interested in sports, including rugby, soccer, cricket, athletics, bowls and golf. There are also martial arts classes available in town and there’s an indoor sports centre. The golf club, which is planning to extend its course to a full 18 holes, hosts the annual Laidley Classic Golf Competition, a popular event that draws interest from near and far.
Food and drink
For a small town, there’s a reasonable number of places to eat out in Laidley. There are several cafes and takeaway options, with the 50s-style Eagle Rock Café and Das Neumann Haus both popular. In the evenings you can head to any of the town’s three pubs for a country-style meal and a cold drink. The local golf club restaurant is also open for meals on Friday nights. For other dining options, Toowoomba and Ipswich aren’t too far away, and there are plenty of other small towns in the Lockyer Valley to choose from as well.
Laidley’s rapid population growth in the early 2000s means that many properties in the town are less than 20 years old. Around 87 percent of homes are separate houses, with some flats and townhouses also available. Housing demand is relatively low, however, and there are a number of unoccupied properties. This helps keep prices affordable. The median price for a three-bedroom house is $220,000, with rental for a similar-sized home costing around $275 per week.
The twice-weekly Westlander train service that runs between Brisbane and Charleville stops at Laidley. To travel to Brisbane by train at other times, the nearest station is at Rosewood, around 20 km east. The 539 bus line that services the area from Helidon to Rosewood has a stop in Laidley, so connecting to the train is quite easy. For driving, the Warrego Highway passes less than 10 km north of Laidley, so the town has good access to Brisbane and the Queensland highway network.
Broadband connection – Most of Laidley has been connected to the National Broadband Network, with speeds of up to 100Mbps available. The rollout is continuing in the remaining areas of the town. ADSL2 is also available at speeds of up to 15Mbps.