Ravenshoe in Brief
The township of Ravenshoe, situated on the south-west of Cairns at the junction of Kennedy and Palmerston Highways in the Tablelands region is the Highest town in Queensland State. Once called Cedar Creek Village now renamed as Ravenshoe was first settled by pastoralists prior to 1881. Once a booming town from 1910s onwards until 1988 when it closed its railway service from Atherton, following the designation of the Wet Tropics of Queensland as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, Ravenshoe still has two timber mills operating using both plantation pine and hardwoods.
Traveling is my favourite thing but escaping the cities and hitting the open road for weekend getaway adventures is something I love doing since childhood. Ravenshoe, a tiny sleepy country town located in the misty mountains of Atherton Tablelands region is one place that I keep returning. Why? This is one of my favourite places in Far North Queensland for quiet weekend getaway. Here I get to experience the laid-back lifestyle where “time and rush” syndrome don’t exist but relaxation, tranquility of quietness and attractions of nature are admired and felt.
Leaving the lush tropical rainforest of the coast behind and headed to the cool of the Atherton Tablelands and the dramatic landscapes of the Queensland outback from Cairns to Ravenshoe – a distance about 122 kilometres. Heading south bound before sunrise, I made my way along the A1 Bruce Highway in the early hours of the morning to Gordonvale, a tiny town, 20 kilometres south of Cairns. Exiting, the A1 Highway from Gordonvale, I headed up Gillies Highway, a well maintained road known as Gillies Range. This section of the drive from the bottom of the Gillies range to the top is almost 20 kilometres of windy road. I best enjoy this windy road, driving at the slow pace, absorbing the early morning cool breeze and stopping along the way with breathtaking views of the glittering sunrise as it spreads its lights across the valley, mountains and low-land plains. This is just magical part of the day that I utterly enjoy most. Through every turns and corners, half-way up Gillies range is the “Healey’s Lookout” where I stopped to admire the stunning views of the valley.
From the jaw-dropping views of the valley, I continued up the range, swaying from side to side on every turn and through lush rainforest before bypassing the township of Yungaburra, Malanada and few major tourist attraction spots – Lake Barrine, Curtain Fig Tree and more. Turning off Gillies Highway, I drove along Malanda Lake Barrine Road and MillaMilla Malanda Road. I made my way across the scenic road, along rolling hills and green pastures before turning on East Evelyn road just before MillaMilla town. Just a kilometre drive from MillaMilla junction and 20 kilometres before reaching Ravenshoe township is the “Milla-Milla Lookout”. This lookout is the best in Atherton Tablelands. As I enjoy this 180 degrees panoramic view of the surrounding areas, it reminded me of how lucky I am to be living in this part of the world. The views from this location is incredibly breathtaking and a reflection how this great country is.
I arrived in Ravenshoe township just before 10am, in time for breakfast at the only local bakery located in the centre of the town. While enjoying my breakfast with a cup of tea, at the same time having a yarn with the locals sitting opposite the table. The locals in this tiny country town are friendly and charming. I know, I am in for quiet an adventure in this town.
Arriving in Ravenshoe, the highest town in Queensland at 920 metres, is one of the most interesting town in Atherton Tablelands to visit. With its incredible rich history, unfortunately it is one of least visited town by tourists in the Tablelands region. Away from tourist radar and routes, this town is not frequently visited by day visitors, except grey-nomads that folk the town during winter months. However, it is one of the rewarding place to getaway for tranquil moments and rejuvenation. The welcoming locals filled with character and charm brings true local flavour. Ravenshoe town is a place unlike any other towns in Tablelands region. With the township lies between the rainforest and savannah makes it a lush region of mountain pastures and un-spoilt World Heritage rainforest. There is no deny that this quiet little country town is the most friendliest town in the region.
In and Around Ravenshoe
This tiny town of Ravenshoe is entirely possible to get around by foot and within less than two hours, I have seen the whole town from one end to the other, including all the shops in the main street and information centre. Ravenshoe, a two-pub town has the Queensland’s highest town, Queensland’s highest pub and Queensland’s highest railway station. This town has so many natural attractions and is located to waterfalls, crater lakes, swamps, water holes, rainforest and historical landmarks. There are variety of plants and animals, including 12 species of possum, 8 species of Kangaroo and abundant bird life. All you have to do is go outdoors to find them. For energetic keen hikers, you can either go bushwalking in the Misty Mountain Wilderness trails which are network of extensive walking tracks that traverse Tully Gorge and Wooroonooran National Park. There are bush walks to the Millstream Falls and Little Millstream Falls and just minutes drive away from the town centre. The town has a number of galleries and creative industries, reflecting the nature of the locals.
There is more to this town than just the quiet and secluded atmosphere. Here for few days, gave me the opportunity to discover and having a yarn with locals give me an in-depth collective knowledge of the natural and cultural assets of the area. Some of top highlights include:
Windy Hill Wind Farm
The Windy Hill Wind Farm located on privately owned Atherton Tableland dairy farmland can be visibly seen from the road as you drive to Ravenshoe. It is situated about three kilometres from the township. It is Queens’and’s largest wind farm that are 45 metres freestanding and twenty of them together is a spectacular sight to behold and producing enough power for 3500 homes. It has panels about how this wind farm works. Many travellers stop to look at these gigantic wind turbines that generates electricity to power several towns. It has a viewing area that is high enough to provide good views not only of the windmills a but also the surrounding area. It provide incredible views of the vast savannah land.
Ravenshoe Visitor Centre
The Ravenshoe Visitor Centre located at 24 Moore Street in Ravenshoe, Queensland’s highest town is a most popular visited place in the town. This is where you want to find any information about the area. This accredited visitor information centre offers a one stop shop for travel information including maps, brochures, and itineraries. Staffed by volunteer skilled and knowledgeable locals, the Ravenshoe Visitor Centre can provide advice on the things to see, things to do, where to stay and where to eat. Discuss anything with the friendly staff your travel plans or make a booking will make your trip a worthwhile. Interestingly, the centre houses a small museum dedicated to the history of the area plus the Nganyagi Centre, a spectacular display of local indigenous artifacts and knowledge.
Don’t be fooled by the look of the building from outside. This gigantic shed located in the town centre next to the train station has an interesting character once you step inside in the entrance. This is a treasure and has it all from interesting clothing to bric a brack, paintings, crockery, gifts of all sorts. It is well a visit.
Beside the highest train station in Queensland is the van park site. It is the site of an old railway museum and the starting point for Capella the steam train which runs from Ravenshoe to Tumoulin. It is no longer in operation. The active local group decided to preserve a section of the historic railway. It is worth visiting. Check https://ravenshoesteamrailway.webs.com/ if it is operative.
There are two Millstream Falls – Big Millstream and Little Millstream Falls. Just a short drive outside the town centre is the Millstream Falls and the Big Falls is more impressive.This falls plunge over the edge of a columnar basalt lava flow and are reputedly the widest single-drop waterfall in Australia. There is a 700 metres walking track which is sealed that leads to a viewing area over the falls. Check: https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/millstream-falls/about.html for more details.
Located just 14 kilometres south of Ravenshoe is the Tully Falls. This fall is regarded as some of the most dramatic and beautiful in north Queensland but they tend to be spectacular only after heavy rains. Still the site of the gorge is impressive even when there is little water rushing over the falls. It is possible to see golden bowerbirds and Lumholtz’s tree kangaroos which are unique to the Wet Tropics.
Koombooloomba dam located 30 kilometres south of Ravenshoe township is a popular spot for campers, water-skiers and anglers. Constructed in 1961 on the Tully River system to hydroelectric power generation. The dam is not part of the national park or conservation park. It is not well maintained and has no ammenities or facilities.
Innot Hot Springs
Just 30 kilometres west of Ravenshoe on the Kennedy Highway Innot Hot Springs. It is a tiny place that in a blink of an eye you can drive past it. There is an old pub and a leisure park. Inside the leisure park is the hot pools where you pay to use the facility but the creek running alongside is hot and free to the public to use. It is worth going out of your way to enjoy this springs.
Ravenshoe Torimba Festival
One of the events that brings the town alive during the month of October is the Torimba Festival. The township of Ravenshoe has been celebrating the “Torimba Festival” since 1969. To understand what means “Torimba”, it is a combination of Tourism and Timber. Every year, this festival runs for a full fortnight in October. It displays an exhibition of woodwork created by recreational and professional craft persons. During this time, the Ravenshoe community organisations develop fun events throughout the fortnight.
Where to stay?
The town has limited number of accommodations found in the area and may not suit all budget travellers. There is only one motel with limited number of rooms and two hotel-pub accommodation which are fairly basic. Apart from that, there are two caravan parks, one located in the town centre, next to the train station. The other van site is just 300 metres from the town centre at the back of the service station on the Savannah Highway road. There are no backpacker, holiday houses, apartments or B&Bs accommodations.
Such a weekend getaway to this quiet town away from busy city life and high volume of tourists, is the great way for me to escape the stress and find myself in a relaxed atmosphere. This is one of my favourite place where I find inner peace, quiet and comfort away from bustle and hustle. One of my favourite moment when visiting this town is watching the sunset and sunrise at Windy Hill Wind Farm. This is a great location not only for watching the sunset and sunrise but I tend to enjoy the view of the vast landscape that many times it mystifies me. I come here to admire the beauty and enjoy this incredible scenery. As they say, all good things must come to an end, it was time to head back home.
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