Ravenshoe Heritage Railway

I wasn’t expecting much when Adrian told me the campground in the middle of Ravenshoe was only $5 a night for unpowered (powered sites are available.) Wow. It is a lovely little camp. It was once the local railway station and when the line was closed down the local council turned it into a RV spot. We were only going to stay one night but like a lot of the good cheap spot we extend our stay.

The council has left, and probably added, items to the station giving it a lovely unique feel to the park. I took a walk round one day, enjoying the simplicity of it all. It has a vintage D17 class steam locomotive, which as been restored by volunteers. That doesn’t mean much to me, but on most Sundays the train runs to Tumoulin.  The camp has all the facilities you need.  For $5 a night who wouldn’t stay in Ravenshoe for an extra night or two?

We took the time to visit some of the waterfalls around Ravenshoe. The town is a great spot for waterfalls as it sits on the top of the Greet Dividing Range and lays claim to being the highest town in Queensland being 920 m above sea level. We did feel it as we were driving to Ravenshoe, as we seem to be constantly going up and up.

rav-sign

We tried our hand at taking some of those lovely waterfall shots where the water looks like it is one long flow. I have heard it called angel breath. Easy right, just increase the time exposure on the camera. Then you just need to reduce the amount of light going into the camera. Hold the camera still long enough to take the shot. Mmmmm. Maybe if we had a tripod it would have been easier or if we really knew what we were doing would have been even better. What is it they say ‘trial and error’? So true. It was a trial trying to take that perfect photo and definitely lots of errors.

We started at Millstream Falls. The falls have a history of being created more than 3 million years ago and are said to be the widest, single-drop falls in Australia. Not bad. It was a bit of a walk down to the valley below to get to the fall. They never seem to make it easy to get to some of their things. I had expected to be really close but surprisingly the lookout was still a distant away from the falls with no access to get closer. While Millstream Falls were pretty they did lack something.

On the way back to the car we saw a sign telling us about the World War 2 heritage walk. The walk takes you though what once was a military camp. As the area is so close to the battlefields of Papua New Guinea, General Sir Thomas Blamey set up a respite camp for the men. The camp had the advantage of giving the troop a break from the tropical heat of the coast. 160 such sites were set up over the tablelands housing up to 100,000 men and women. The lush green countryside has reclaimed most of the site. The Millstream Falls National Park is one of the few places still remaining. For most part the accommodation was basic with the men sleeping in tents. I am sure the tents would have felt like luxury for the men returning from the Kokoda trail.

There wasn’t much to see along the walk. Signs had been placed along the track letting people know what was situated in set area. It was interesting reading but it was a little on the hard side to picture how it would have look like back in the day.

The only real remains were some logs left from the trenches which ran around the campsite, giving any soldier quick access, incase of an enemy attack (they were filled with debris when the site was cleared in 1945. There was also the broken remains of a fireplace, which was part of the officer’s mess tent. It used to bear the battalion’s insignia.   It is amazing that any part of the fireplace still stands. Being wartime and as the fireplace was only going to be temporary, it was built with poor quality cement. Yet it still stands today. It does look worse for wear as late in 2006 it suffered a directly hit by a tree falling when cyclone Larry passed though the area.

 

A single poppy had been left on one of the signs. It made me stop and think about the men who would have spent time here all those years ago. Their home away from home. It was a little like Darwin where I received a history lessens about my own country. It is nice to see this sight kept.

 

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