Historical Towns Directory

By clicking on a state or territory on the map, you can access a regional guide to Australia's historic towns, including a wealth of information about organizations, museums and locations.

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 Ravenswood

Find Ravenswood

The town of Ravenswood developed as the first major mining town in north Queensland after the discovery of gold in 1868. Pastoralists had moved into the area in the 1860s and the town was named was after one of the region's early stations.

A small number of prospectors were working the field by 1869 when a further discovery of gold was made at the site of the present town.

Crushing machinery was brought to the town to process the ore in 1870. This was also the year that the 'Ravenswood Miner' newspaper was first printed.

The initial success of the crushing enterprise led to a further rush to the area. In 1871 there were 2,000 to 3,000 miners on the field and Ravenswood was Queensland's first large inland settlement. By 1872, however, the mine shafts had been sunk into the water table and the extraction of gold became virtually impossible.

When news arrived of the discovery of gold at Charters Tors at the beginning of 1872 many of the miners left Ravenswood to try their luck on the new field. Those who stayed managed to mine around 300 kilograms of gold from the area annually.

Ravenswood, Queensland - Imperial Hotel. Courtesy of Tourism Queensland.

Silver was discovered in the vicinity during in 1880 and operations at the Totley silver mine ensured the survival of the town throughout the decade.

Ravenswood again experienced a mining boom in the late 1890s when updated mining equipment and new management revived the fields. Deep mining began in 1901 and two years later the population peaked at 4,707 people.

An industrial strike during 1912-13 again saw the town decline and this trend continued during WWI as the majority of men remaining in Ravenswood joined the armed forces. Mining at Ravenswood ceased by the end of the First World War and the town subsequently became a virtual ghost town.

Many buildings were relocated from Ravenswood as it declined. The only remaining church in Ravenswood is St Patrick's Church, which was once a Catholic Church but is now used as a community church. A weatherboard school residence (1873 and extended throughout the remainder of the 1800s) is also still standing today. The old courthouse has been restored and is now a museum.

Ruins which can today be seen around town include the Mabel Mill as well as remnants of cottages and business premises.

There were once more than 30 pubs operating in Ravenswood but just two remain today. The opulent Imperial Hotel (1902) was built in Edwardian style. Large arches and turned columns are a feature of the ground floor verandah. The restored Railway Hotel (1902) expresses less flamboyance in its architecture but is also a substantial structure.

Ravenswood, Queensland - The Railway Hotel. Courtesy of Tourism Queensland.

Ravenswood, 85 kilometres east of Charters Towers, is today a National Trust classified town. Gold mining recommenced in the vicinity during the 1980s.

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