We finally do get to Ravenshoe, Atherton Tableland.

Ravenshoe Travel Blog

 › entry 7 of 9 › view all entries
The old Heberton Convent a lovely lod building


Last time we came to Australia, to the Atherton Tableland, we drove all around looking at many beautiful waterfalls and lakes, all the while heading to Ravenshoe a town right at the back of he tablelands, that simply fascinated me with its odd name, but we took a wrong turn somewhere and charged down the Palmerston Highway and ended up in Innisfail. So this time we intended to make a big effort to actually get to Ravenshoe.

Windmills of Ravenshoe

We say raven shoe but Australians say raven’s hoe, strange.

We left Atherton Caravan Park cabins to drive to this town of strange name, our map showed two ways of getting there, on the longer road we saw a town named Herberton and remembered those Nuns from Cooktown Convent being evacuated to there, so ofcause we headed off on the longer route, what’s a few extra miles to drive to a taxi driver! Actually it wasn’t that much further anyway, and a pleasant drive even with dead kangaroos littering the road.  Suicidal kangaroos must all come out at night, as we didn’t see any on any of our drives. When we arrived in the small town of Herberton we stopped and I asked the first person I saw to direct us to the Convent the Cooktown Nuns had been evacuated to during the War.

More Windmills at Ravenshoe
The poor man looked a bit blankly at me, and then said, I suppose you mean the high School building, and yes we did; it is still the Sacred Heart Convent building but its now incorporated into the Local Catholic High School, it still looks very impressive, we were glad all those ladies had a nice place to end their days, as they never returned to Cooktown. It felt nice to have been able to follow that thread to its ending point.

On we drove to Ravenshoe, past many huge windmill type power generating poles, out on the hillsides, all whirling madly making masses of electricity for the Nation, I for one did not see them as an eyesore but I could imagine others do, you certainly can’t miss them.

Arriving at Ravenshoe we found a great old steam train parked at the Railway Station looking very impressive, stopped to have a look and actually to get on board the engine, pity today was not a day it ran, but run it often does for a few miles.

Ravenshoe steam train at the station.

An old impressive looking Hotel Tully Falls at the head of the main street dominates the town as you approach. We stopped off at a wonderful small bakery, I think its name was Goodies, and bought some of the best buns and bread we have ever eaten, where do they get such good wheat, far superior to any we have in New Zealand. I decided that as we had gone to such lengths to visit this town that I might as well walk the full length of the street and back down the other side. I stopped off several times, once to buy the small alarm clock we needed, once to attempt to change some $NZ in $AUS; this proved impossible, the lady behind the tiny Bank counter said I have never done that before and I don’t think we have any of the currency, wasn’t I going to be in Atherton or Cairn soon, couldn’t I get it changed there? Well, yes, I supose I am!!

Stopped off for a hot mocchachino and a biscuit at a cafe along the street, and while Erle checked out the real estate windows and a bookshop, onwards I walked up to the Hotel Tully Falls, where I went in and asked just where these Tully Falls were.

Peregrine Falcon
Apparently they vanished many years ago when the Tully river was dammed to make electricity, so I couldn’t go see them,  found out there are no poker machines allowed in this town! On I went, down the other side where I checked out what Blue Salmon were that a lady was advertising for sale in a small fish shop, every bit of fish was frozen and only the outside side skin of the salmon was blue, not the fillets, she had plenty of fantastic looking prawns and shrimps but I journeyed on, then I spotted a very elderly lady hobbling up the street on a stick, over to her I went and asked if she had always lived in Ravenshoe, she told me she had for quite a while as she was 94 years old! So I asked her why the town was called Ravenshoe, now although she had lived there all her life she had never wondered why it was called that; it just was. She was able to tell me her whole life story (which was very interesting) but the best she could suggest is that I bought a booklet about the town and maybe it might explain where the name came from, but I didn’t go buy the booklet so I am still none the wiser as to why the town is called Ravenshoe, but I can assure you that although I looked all around there were no Ravens with or without shoes or hoes.
Australian Barn Owl

Having completed my walk of the town we drove to Mill Stream Park on the lookout for a picnic table in the shade, no problem, we had yet another lovely picnic in a park, all on our own with just the birds for company, followed by a short walk around the area.

There didn’t seem to be much more to see and do, so we drove away back by the shorter road back to Atherton, amazingly we found we were just in time for the Atherton Birds of Prey Show held every afternoon at Chinatown. We bought tickets for the show and for a grand tour of Hou Wang Temple in Chinatown. At first we rather thought we were going to be the only audience for the birds of prey show, but in time 4 there’s arrived and we settled down on the big logs, for the show in the open air.

Inside part of the Hou Wang Chinese Temple
A lovely tame Barn Owl, a Magpie and 2 other big Eagles came out and put on their acts, finally a Falcon was brought out and set up to fly high in the sky, we watched him soar high on the thermals, before the trainer threw a lure of a dead chick out for him and down he dropped like a stone so fast then with a swoop be snatched up the chick in his talons and sat upon the top of a log to enjoy his treat. We were all most impressed! Well worth the small charge.

Then we were all off over to the Hou Wang Temple, an old corrugated iron structure, I am not sure when it was built, but it must have been around 1880 when there was a thriving township of Chinese people and businesses on this site, the town was abandoned in 1920, but the Temple was still used until 1970, when the National Trust of Queensland acquired the temple and set about restoring it to its former glory, it is a work still in progress but we enjoyed looking at this very different house of worship. I find it a shame that the Chinese peoples part in the history of this country and also NZ is largely ignored, nice to see something being treated with respect, as it should be.

We spent so long at the Temple asking so many questions we all missed going to the display within the café museum, but I gather it has lots of interesting historical Chinatown things to look at too.

We returned to our Cabin for coffee and to change before going out to dinner at one of the Hotels in Atherton. We really intended going to the RSL for a meal, but even though the RSL building looked large and modern, and was built on a large section of prime real estate at the start of the main street, it had recently, been closed up permanently from lack of use, we gather. Very sad loss for all the RSL members, but we guess it must be happening all over, as these men all age and become fewer as the years pass..

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
The old Heberton Convent a lovely …
The old Heberton Convent a lovely…
Windmills of Ravenshoe
Windmills of Ravenshoe
More Windmills at Ravenshoe
More Windmills at Ravenshoe
Ravenshoe steam train at the stati…
Ravenshoe steam train at the stat…
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Australian Barn Owl
Australian Barn Owl
Inside part of the Hou Wang Chines…
Inside part of the Hou Wang Chine…
Ravenshoe Sights & Attractions review
Ravenshoe Steam train
The steam train is parked at the old station at Ravenshoe, it is free to go and have a look, even to get on board but I am sure there is a cost to tra… read entire review
photo by: yuness