Heritage tea rooms for sale in North QueenslandThe Herveys Range building is 156 years old and still going strong.

Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms listed for sale

In the sales pitch for an atmospheric wooden building on the Herveys Range outside Townsville, the line “established long-term business” is no vacuous claim.

For the slab-sided building, installed on the road from the rudimentary Townsville cattle port to newly discovered goldfields, has been there since 1865 when it began life as the Eureka Hotel.

It’s had many lives, both commercial and private, in the 156 years since. Currently in the quirky iteration of the popular Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms, North Queensland’s oldest wooden building is up for sale.

The expressions-of-interest campaign closes on Friday, November 12 at 4pm.

Owners Russell and Desley Ralph, who have been running it as a destination high-tea and wedding venue since 2013, say that the old place is just a 30-minute drive from burgeoning Townsville and “makes a nice trip and is very popular as it’s got all that rich history – and it’s slightly cooler”.

The building in the backdrop of this photo of teamsters taking a break in their day.
The building in the backdrop of this photo of teamsters taking a break in their day.

“The main clientele,” Mrs Ralph explains, “are the locals and the VFRs – visiting friends and relatives – who see it as curious. I guarantee they’ll come here. They come to sit out under the [mango] trees. We don’t spend too much time inside the building.”

Mrs Ralph, who has known the place for 40 years since she began visiting her future father-in-law, who ran it as the headquarters of a trail riding and rodeo operation, bought it from owners who, in the mid-1990s, had tricked it up again as a hospitality venue.

It was one of the first in Australia to serve the expensive and slightly controversial Civet coffee, produced via the gut of a native Asian cat. “Here and Harrods [in London] were some of the only places you could get it,” she says.

But now that their daughter Georgia, who’d been running the place, has married and moved away, the Ralphs have also decided to move on to other things. They’re relocating to a place they already have “down at the bottom of the mountain” from the next-door Queenslander-style residence they’ve long occupied and which is also part of the sales deal.

“It’s bittersweet,” Mrs Ralph says, “because I love living up here. But we’re not moving that far away.”

She says the house “that was moved up from town has good bones but does need renovating”.

For sale is a business and dwellling and land in the tropics.
For sale is a business and dwellling and land in the tropics.

With the Tea Rooms being heritage listed, the Ralphs have resisted any urge to improve the flaking paint on the exterior hand-adzed hardwood timbers or the galvanised rooms that, in the 1950s, infilled parts of the veranda.

“We’ve kept it original to its different eras. All we’ve done is put up some railings to help the elderly”.

The different eras of use encapsulate so much of the history of this part of the tropical coastal north. The place has been a hotel, a boundary rider’s hut, a family home, a horse trail business, a weekend retreat and, most recently, tea rooms.

Peter McCann, of selling agency Ray White Townsville, will give no further potential price information than “put your best foot forward and don’t miss out” and says there has been “tons of interest in a business that stacks up well, and that’s just a quaint, cool little building”.

“The fact that it’s 20 kilometres up the road [from Townsville] and 10 degrees cooler is a big drawcard,” he says.

Those interested in the Tea Rooms, the wedding centre “which is really a barn with a bar”, and the four-bedroom residence “that has a working fireplace”, include people from Tasmania to the Northern Territory, Mr McCann says. Local investors have also been looking.

Underneath the galvanised roof is the old tea rooms up on the range.
Underneath the galvanised roof is the old tea rooms up on the range.

Those examining the overhead image of the eight-hectare property who see what appear to be lines indicating a dual subdivision are being slightly fooled by the fact that, running well below the property, is a disused railway tunnel that is considered an easement.

“It was built under the mountain to bring nickel down from a mine,” Mrs Ralph says. “It’s no longer used.” And because of safety issues, it is no longer used for ghost tours – which were just another aspect of the long story pertaining to 37 Thornton Gap Road, Hervey Range, Queensland.

Keep up with Commercial Real Estate news.

Check out our Privacy Policy.