Ravenshoe in Brief
Ravenshoe township situation 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 at 920 metres. 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 is a sleepy little town with minimal tourism activity.
Though, with its incredible rich history, unfortunately it is one of least visited town by tourists in the Tablelands region and makes it 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.
One of my favourite lifestyle is escaping the cities and hitting the open road for weekend getaway adventures. I left Cairns in the early hours of the morning to Ravenshoe, a tiny sleepy country town located in the misty mountains of Atherton Tablelands region. This is one of my favourite places in Far North Queensland for quiet weekend getaway. Here you 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.
Though, to reach Ravenshoe from Cairns is only 123 kilometres with easy access and well maintained highway roads, leaving early hours of the morning when taking a road trip is my favourite part of the day. I get to have the whole package of early morning cool breeze and stopping along the way with breathtaking views of the glittering sunrise as I witness its light spread across the valleys, mountains and low-land plains. It is just magical part of the day.
Taking the Gillies Range with 19 kilometres of windy road, driving at the slow pace in the morning is the best way to enjoy this road. Half-way up the range is the “Healey’s Lookout” where I had a five minute stop before bypassing the township of Yungaburra, through Malanda town and stopping at “Milla-Milla Lookout” before arriving in Ravenshoe township in time for breakfast at the only local bakery located in the centre of the town.
Exploring the area
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. I took a short walk along the river, which is not visible from the main street before visiting the train station which is no longer operative but it is well maintained and manicured.
Ravenshoe is a two-pub town and is the Queensland’s highest town with Queensland’s highest pub – “The Ravenshoe Hotel” (formerly known as the Tully Falls hotel until 2004) and highest railway station. It 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 also bush walks to the Millstream Falls as well as Little Millstream Falls which are short 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 atmosphere of the town, I had time to discover the best of Ravenshoe town and the surrounding areas.
Windy Hill Wind Farm
The windy Hill Wind Farm which can be visibly seen from the road as you drive to Ravenshoe. 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.
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.
The highest train station in Queensland and alongside 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 but it is no longer in operation. The active local group decided to preserve a section of the historic railway and 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.
Located about 30 kilometres south of Ravenshoe is the Koombooloomba dam. It 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. Be aware that it is not a well maintained area and there are no facilities there like the Tinaroo dam, outside Atherton town.
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.
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 taking time to 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 time 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.
Where to stay?
The town has limited number of accommodations 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 is fairly basic. Apart from that, there are two caravan parks, one located in the town centre, next to the train station and the other is just a minute drive from the town centre at the back of the service station on the side of the road. There are no backpacker, holiday houses, apartments or B&Bs accommodations but there is a camping ground nearby next to the train station.