Highfields is both a town and a locality in the Toowoomba Region, Queensland, Australia. At the 2016 census, Highfields had a population of 8,131. At June 2015, the estimated urban population for the Highfields urban area was 18,771. It is the fastest growing area in Queensland and also one of the fastest in Australia.
Highfields is situated on the Great Dividing Range, slightly north of Mount Kynoch. It is on the New England Highway. It serves as a satellite suburb to the city of Toowoomba, accommodating many of Toowoomba businesses' employees. The ABS also defines a larger growth area, named Highfields, that includes the suburb and several of those surrounding.
The area probably takes its name from the Highfields pastoral run, north of the township. The area was first developed in the 1860s. Initially, there were a number of sawmills in the area, harvesting the local timber. Then the construction of the railway line between Ipswich and Toowoomba (completed in 1867) brought railway workers to the district. As the timber-getters cleared the land, dairy farms were established. The first post office openly briefly in 1866 with a weekly mail service from Toowoomba. It re-opened in 1868 and changed its name in December 1877 to Koojarawon. The Highfields School opened on 17 January 1870 in the Rising Sun Hotel under teacher Mr Larkin. The first school building was constructed in the 1880s. In 1906, the school was renamed Koojarawon.
Coming into the 1960s, the Highfield remained a rural community with, at one stage, only 9 children enrolled in the school. However, residential subdivision started to occur in the 1960s, to a point where it is now considered a satellite town of Toowoomba. The school is now one of the largest primary schools in the district.
The Cabarlah Community School opened in Wirraglen Road, Highfields, in January 2006. It used the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy. In March 2008 it was closed when the Queensland Government's Non-State Schools Accreditation Board refused to accredit the school, claiming it did not meet the requirements of the Education (Accreditation of Non-State Schools) Act 2001. Although the school appealed the decision, the Queensland Education Minister, Rod Weldford, upheld the board's decision.
The Highfields Library opened in 2006 with a major refurbishment in 2017.
The Big Cow was built in the 1970s to attract tourists to a working dairy farm at 9-11 Ayrshire Rd, Kulangoor. It is one of the many Australian Big Things. It was sculpted by Hugh Anderson, who also sculpted the Big Bulls in Rockhampton. The Big Cow is seven times the size of an Ayrshire cow on which it is modelled. It is made of concrete and described as "able to withstand a cyclone". After the dairy farm closed, the Big Cow remained on the property which was used for a variety of purposes. In March 2016, the Big Cow was described as "closed and fallen into disrepair". On 10 January 2020, the Big Cow was moved to the Highfields Pioneer Village, where volunteers intend to restore the Big Cow.
There are four schools in Highfields:
- Highfields State School (a primary school), on the New England Highway
- Mary MacKillop Catholic School (a primary and a high school), on Highfields Road. Name changed to Mary Mackillop Catholic College in 2015 to mark the school now operating as a college with senior school from 2015.
- Toowoomba Christian College (a primary and high school), on the New England Highway
- Highfields State Secondary College (HSSC) was opened at the beginning of 2015 to cater for the growing community. HSSC is a Bring your own device (BYOD) school.
A shopping centre called Highfields Village was developed and opened in 2003 that contains a number of community stores, including a hardware store, a baker and a supermarket. A tavern was also opened at the site in 2003. The centre also contains a pizza store, a post office, a bank and a hairdressing salon. In addition to the Highfields Village shopping centre, the Plaza shopping centre was recently redeveloped (2007). It now has a supermarket, newsagency, numerous banks, takeaways and a hair dresser. Also serving the community are a small bundle of shops found on the turn off from the New England Highway to Highfields Road, amongst them include a bakery, a delicatessen, a hairdressers, a real estate agency and an auto parts shop.
Highfields is also home to a football (soccer) club, Highfields FC, with teams ranging from Under 6's to Colts. Highfields also has a regional rugby league club, Highfields Eagles, with teams ranging from Under 7's to 16's in the juniors and has an under 18's, reserve and A grade team in the seniors. Highfields Lions were admitted into the AFL Darling Downs Senior competition in 2010, and now have a competitive club at Senior and Junior level. Highfields is home to the Highfields Redbacks Rugby Union Club. The Redbacks are based at Kuhls Road Oval, and field teams from Under 6's to Over 35's. Highfields & District Railways Bulldogs Cricket Club are the local cricket club with teams from under 7s – under 16s and D – A grade. Highfields and District Netball Club operates from the newly opened Highfields district sports park. Highfields and Districts Little Athletics Centre operates during the summer months from the AFL oval
The Highfields Pioneer Historical Village has an unusual collection of vintage machinery. The Historical Village also has a fully operating blacksmith shop, a Heritage Chapel, an original Toowoomba 1928 Dennis Fire Engine, a two cell lock up short term prison from 1903, Model T Fords, and a collection of restored antique radios and appliances.
The Chocolate Cottage is located at the Village Green which sells antiques, art and other specialty items.
Across the road from the Village Green is Jacaranda Manor. Within Jacaranda Manor is a coffee shop, fudge factory and bead store.
The Cultural Centre is a large venue for conferences and performances. Also located at the Centre is an outdoor public swimming complex with a large indoor arena holding two volleyball and basketball courts and a gym. Just outside this is the Highfields Library at Community Court; the library is operated by the Toowoomba Regional Council and is open seven days. On the other side of the Cultural Centre is a skate park.
Development is currently in progress for the Highfields Sport & Recreation Park, which upon completion will include a number of netball courts, multi-use sporting fields, and tennis courts; amenities, picnic areas, and 150 additional car parking spaces are also planned. The first stage of the Highfields Sport and Recreation Park opened in May 2016 with 12 netball courts, Two Football fields plus clubhouses. The second stage is due to commence construction in late 2016 for completion in 2018.
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