It was a glorious Sunday afternoon made less so by a large pile of defiant ironing. The more it glowered at me the more I feigned death. There is only one cure for this kind of languor – escape! So I took myself off to Cabarlah in search of clarity and inspiration: clever me, it worked a treat!

Cabarlah is a gorgeous part of the world and just 20 minutes from Toowoomba – if that. It’s rural with rolling hills, tall trees and some of the region’s most intriguing shops.

I started my tour of inspiration at the pub (of course). The Farmers Arms Hotel is owned by Wayne and Linda Franklin who were enjoying a well earned cocktail after a busy lunchtime trade.

Licensed in 1853 The Farmers Arms is one of the oldest surviving pubs around and it is famous for its counter lunches and friendly country hospitality.

Where’s the Farmers Arms you ask? Around the barmaid’s waist of course!

Right next door is Colours San Cris, a Mexican themed shop and cafe. Owner Leonie is one lucky duck. She travels through Mexico each year seeking out the most intriguing goodies for her shop. Some things are made by villagers others by nuns. She also has a range of Egyptian Bedouin embroidery – at Cabarlah! I told you this would be inspiring.

The Mexicans love decorative crosses and I collect crosses. I do – I find it fascinating how such a simple form can be embellished and decorated in so many ways. I particularly like the Mexican Frida Kahlo crosses and Leonie just happened to have one with my name on it. Yahoo

Next stop was Cyrano Maison De France. The lovely Margaret gave me a little tour of her collection of non tarnish French pewter, pill boxes, bar accessories, divine silk and cashmere wraps and special linen.  She has some fabulous objets d’art and all so very French – tres bon!  Where am I again?

Back on the road and I potter along to the Black Forest Cuckoo Clock Centre which has expanded (see Highlife story) to include Scotland Yard Nursery and Gift Shop and a brand new cafe.

If you love Christmas then you MUST visit this centre. The gift shop has gorgeous contemporary Christmas decorations and baubles while the Cuckoo Clock Shop has traditional German nutcrackers, advent calendars, incense burners, rotating nativity scenes and more.

Upstairs is the soft feminine Simple Things Small Joys by Angela Osment. It’s so pretty with lace doily bunting and handmade soaps. Heavenly.

The nursery is bright and colourful but eagerly awaiting a huge shipment of water features and other groovy garden things. What fun!

So we’ve covered Australia, Mexico, France and Germany. Might as well pop in to Denmark too!

The Danish Flower Art Centre is just up the road and they’re recovering from their 25thbirthday celebrations. If you’re beady – you’ll be pleased to know this bead shop is surely THE biggest bead shop in Queensland. And they run workshops too. They also grow gourds that you can paint and decorate – not necessarily with beads.

With my passport filling up, I’ll stop there for now. But next time we’ll continue on my adventure to Highfields for glamour puss shoes, hats, lighting and chocolate.