Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms began its life as the Eureka Hotel built by pioneer settler, Charles Saville Rowe in 1865 which was just one year after the sea side township of Townsville was first settled. The site is situated in Thornton’s Gap atop Hervey Range which rises 1000 ft above the plains below and sits on the old Georgetown Road which was the main road from the port of Townsville to the goldfields and pastoral areas to the west and north.
The tea rooms that you are able to visit today are a reminder of days gone by; the internal structure is the original hand adzed hardwood construction from 1865. The heritage listed building remains one of the few slab sided inns left standing in Australia and is the oldest building of its type in North Queensland; a fine example of early architecture.
From 1867 – 1875 the property was owned by William Randall; it was purchased in 1875 by William & Johanna Rolfe. During their time as owners they changed the name of the hotel several times; Sanitarium (1873), Rolfe’s Hotel (1882), the Range hotel (1886, 1895 and Eureka (1891)). In 1883 William died at the hotel as a result of a horse riding accident, Johanna carried on the business with the help of her children. When Johanna died in 1895 the hotel passed to her son Walter, then Augustus until about 1901. Mr Jack Andrews (brother-in-law of Walter & Gus) held the license around 1903. He decided to remove the northern half of the building and transport it down to Townsville to start up a new hotel. However, this dream was never realised as it was destroyed in a cyclone – perhaps Leonta (1903).
The hotel lost its license in 1908. It was used as a boundary riders hut until it was sold by Dotswood holdings to the Moody family in 1931. William and his wife Ida and their children Edna, Hector and Kevin made the property their home until 1953. Mrs Moody called the property Glenhaven and was well known for her weekend parties, where guests enjoyed singing, dancing and listening to music into the early hours of the morning. The property was then sold to the Fryer family, a local pioneering family who had been living on the range since 1915. From 1969 to 1984 the property was leased by Stan Ralph who ran his horse trail riding business called “Range View Ranch”. During that time the very popular annual rodeo and campdraft was run with local charities being the main benefactors. In 1984 the property was sold to Bill & Dell Greet to be used as a weekend retreat. Bill & Dell set about planting the many trees, including the mango orchards surrounding the tea rooms. They also built the small care takers cabin at the rear of the main structure. After the death of Bill, Mrs Greet sold the property to Allan & Michelle Sharpe and their sons Dominic & Mason in 2000. After several years of painstaking restoration Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms were opened on May 20th 2005. In the years that followed the Sharpes added Tunnel Tours utilising the nearby disused Greenvale railway line tunnels, Ghost tours and Quad bike tours. Under the ownership of Allan & Michelle the Tea Rooms received many accolades and in 2009 was inducted into the North Queensland Tourism Awards Hall of Fame. The current owners Russell & Desley Ralph purchased the tea rooms in October 2013, thereby re-igniting their family’s association with the property.