The tiny town of Ravenswood lies 89 kms east of Charters Towers and it is a little beauty. Heritage listed and captured in an early 1900s time warp, Ravenswood deserves an overnight stay.
Mirroring Charters Towers, Ravenswood also has a gold mining boom and bust story to tell. At its height, 5000 people called Ravenswood home and 48 hotels did brisk business. Just 200 people live here now.
The Railway Hotel (see feature photo) is an eye catching Queensland hotel that transcends time. Terry, the owner is incredibly friendly, plies his customers with good food and drinks as well as entertaining conversation.
Terry is working hard to do great things to his hotel; one of which is to create a cigar and whiskey room.
He is also working hard to recreate the facade of Browne’s Ravenswood Hotel, a classy establishment that once had 50 rooms, a billiards room and a reputation second to none. The facade will be built next door to the Railway Hotel and behind it will be Terry’s prized collection of 200 imported cars, most of which are for sale. He also intends to recreate the shops that once lined this part of the street. It’s an ambitious project and one that will need to tick all the heritage listed boxes, but the tourist potential is enormous.
The Imperial Hotel, built in 1901, has also well and truly passed the test of time.
Both the Railway Hotel and Imperial Hotel offer accommodation; rooms that open up to wide, cool verandahs as well as free camping out the back.
On the way to Ravenswood, we stopped in at Mingela. Mingela, previously known as Ravenswood Junction was where Fred Clark grew up with his timbercutting and timbercarting family. In 1906, he purchased the Mingela Hotel (then known as the North Australian Hotel). Fred sold his hotel to the Quinn family, quite possibly to fund his purchase of the Enterprise Hotel in Charters Towers in 1910.
We clinked glasses in another of Fred’s hotels and chatted to the publican. With a population of just 6 and only 2 drinkers, his despair is genuine.
Next stop: Mission Beach