Located 1459 km northwest of Brisbane and 89 km east of Charters Towers, Ravenswood was once a thriving gold mining town. Today it is almost a ghost town with a population of around 100 who service the surrounding area and cater for the growing tourism.
It is hard to imagine that this town once boasted over 50 pubs (of course many of them were nothing more than tents for selling booze) or that it once had a population of over 4000.
The area was settled in the 1860s by pastoralists who had pushed north looking for new lands. Along the Elphinstone and Connolly Creeks two properties were established. At the point where the Elphinstone met the Burdekin the Merri Merriwa station was established and further upstream was Ravenswood station which was almost certainly named after a town in Scotland which had been popularised by the well known nineteenth century novelist Sir Walter Scott in his novel The Bride of Lammermoor.
The highlight of the town is the superb Imperial Hotel, a flamboyant Edwardian building (1902) with multicoloured brickwork, superb balconies and a delightful Edwardian interior. It is said that at one time there was a miner set himself up next door to the pub and proceeded to blast his way into the ground with the hotel shaking on its foundations every time he detonated another explosion.
Other buildings sighted as being of particular interest are the front stairway of Brownes Hotel which is just over the road from Thorps Building in Macrossan Street.
At the Charters Towers end of the main street there are the ruins of the Mabel Mill which once boasted 30 stamper heads. To the south of the town there are no fewer than six chimney stacks. In Raven Street there are the ruins (no more than the front stairs) of A. L. Wilson’s house and behind the Imperial Hotel is St Patrick’s Church which has been converted from a Catholic Church into an interdenominational community church to serve the town’s small population. The Railway Hotel (1902) has recently been restored and the School (1870s) is still in use.
By any measure Ravenswood is a fascinating town. It is a ghost town to keep the average visitor busy for hours and hours. The mullock heaps, the old shafts, the chimneys, and the old buildings make it an informative journey into the past.