I took a run out to Esk the other day. At 77ks and an hour on the road, it's a neat distance that doesn't render the rest of the day unusable. The round trip back to Toowoomba is about 150km.
The road drops down the escarpment East of Hampton through some interesting and varied country via Ravensbourne National Park, and you can loop back via Gatton so that you don't have to traverse the same piece of road twice.
In Esk itself there's a fair choice of coffee outlets, and the township is interesting and usually busy, although not congested.
The sun was in and out all morning, but I elected to leave the top down, which was OK until the return journey when it started to rain. I discovered that provided you stayed above 80kph, the rain generally blows over the cabin. There wasn't much traffic, but there were a few trucks between Esk and the Gatton turnoff, mostly carrying gear associated with the pipeline from Wivenhoe Dam to Toowoomba. The Mazda is an absolute treat to drive on these roads. Best of all, you don't have to drive it fast to have a good time. With the top down, and after recent rain, the scrub was fragrant, and you could have closed your eyes and your nose would know what sort of country you were in. (I didn't of course – close my eyes that is – not a good idea at 100kph).
This country has some personal significance. My dad was head teacher at Hampton in 1942 when he enlisted in the RAAF. When he went off to New Guinea as an LAC fitting radios to Kittyhawks, my mum took over the school until his return in 1946. I was conceived there and arrived in 1947. You can still see the pine trees dad planted, but the school is long gone.
On the outskirts of town was a school house. I lived in three or four different versions of this house as my dad moved around as a country principal, so for reasons of nostalgia I had to photograph this particular example. In Esk itself there is a lot of activity around the pipeline project. There's a fair-sized cluster of demountables to the West of the township, and you can see the pipes stockpiled not far away. According to the local rag, the first 1000m of pipeline has been laid.
I don't know when it will be finished, but until it is, Toowoomba languishes on level five restrictions. It's been raining on and off since the beginning of Autumn, but all of it has dodged the dams feeding Toowoomba's supply. It's probably karma after the "no" vote in the recycling referendum a few years ago.
(Click on the pics to see a larger version).