Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers Official Opening
I too acknowledge the Member for Ipswich West representing the Premier, all elected representatives, and enthusiastic carnival-goers. Kaye and I are delighted to be in Toowoomba to share in today’s celebration of the 66th anniversary of this marvellous festival. Thank you Mayor Antonio for inviting Kaye and me to be with you today. And I at once thank Mr McCarthy for today’s Welcome to Country; I also extend respectful greetings to the traditional custodians of these lands.
Next Monday sees my own 67th birthday. 66 – 67… certainly in visual terms, this wonderful Carnival of Flowers has weathered a lot better than have I!
Local legend tells us that the very first parade, back in nineteen fifty, was led by a bullock team, watched by an estimated fifty thousand people, and stretched for almost five kilometres.
Today, while the parade remains at the heart of this celebration, the Carnival itself has expanded to become one of Australia’s largest and most vibrant community festivals, featuring ten days of live music concerts, food and wine events, tours, and a side show alley.
That is a remarkable record of growth and achievement.
It is a credit to those visionary men and women who saw that Toowoomba’s reputation as a ‘garden city’ could be used not only to promote economic activity, but also to bring the community together in a celebration of all good and positive during those really difficult years immediately after World War Two – difficult beyond our contemplation. But they realized the simply enlivening capacities of Mother Nature.
Those wonderful citizens harked back to the time when Toowoomba was known as the ‘Queen City of the Downs’ and when, according to a report in The Courier-Mail in nineteen thirty-four, no city in the State could rival it for its gardens.
The writer of that report was certainly an enthusiastic advocate, writing about hedges ‘clothed in their spring frocks of spotless white’ and declaring confidently that ‘nowhere else in this sub-tropical land may cowslips be grown to perfection’.
In the years since the first floral parade, countless men and women in this community have worked tirelessly to cement Toowoomba’s reputation and to ensure the continued success of the Carnival.
For me as your Governor, it is that involvement of the community which is one of the most vital and pleasing features of the Carnival of Flowers.
It is absolutely wonderful that this terrific Carnival has flourished for so long, and pays great tribute to the people of Toowoomba. I can say to you that throughout my life I have been conscious of this annual celebration, carried through with such superb and memorable attention.
Our people here must be proud that, last year, the event – perhaps more accurately termed the phenomenon – won first prize in the Festivals and Events section of both the Queensland Tourism Awards and the Australian Tourism Awards.
They can be proud of the parade’s unique commitment to using only fresh flowers (the only such parade in Australia to do so).
And they can be especially proud of the enduring commitment of generously supportive sponsors, several of which have now supported the Carnival for almost two decades – Grand Central, Heritage Bank and Ergon. I commend and thank them all.
Kaye and I are looking forward immensely to seeing the ‘Storybook of Colour’ unfold as the parade passes, and it is now with great pleasure, as a proud supporter of all things Queensland, with especial fondness for the Downs, that I now declare officially open the 66th Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.