Ravenswood and the mine

Ravenswood is a heritage town dominated by an enormous gold mine, and tensions between its history and its future are inevitable.

The town was founded 150 years ago because of its gold and flourished for 50 years. Then it became a ghost town, drowsing for 70 years before coming back to life 30 years ago, again because of its gold. Now it is threatened by its gold.

When new technology made the gold profitable again in the early 1990s the mine re-opened as an open-cut pit south-east of the town. Another pit has now opened to the south-west, raising a long wall just a couple of hundred metres from the main street.

Ravenswood hall and shop
The community hall (restored) and shop in the main street with the mine wall behind them

Ravenswood Imperial Hotel
One of the two remaining grand hotels
Remnants of the first mining boom, with the new mine wall behind them

That expansion, well described in this ABC report, devoured the school (it was relocated, with corporate assistance) and the oldest cemetery (remains were exhumed and moved to the ‘new’, 1870s onwards, cemetery).

To reach the cemetery these days one drives back to the Burdekin Dam road, turns left, crosses Elphinstone Creek, and turns left again to approach the far side of the new pit – and look down into it, if one wishes.

Ravenswood mine
The other side of the wall – the new pit in action
Ravenswood mine
The new pit in context
Ravenswood cemetery
The cemetery and the boundary of the new workings

The gold mine is Queensland’s biggest and dominates Ravenswood visually and, of course, economically. The company has been a good corporate citizen but one has to wonder what may happen to the cemetery, and the town, with the next expansion.

Ravenswood church
The church from the lookout above the older mine pit

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