Three of Ravenswood’s landmark chimneys are undergoing extensive repair works to restore the structures to their former glory and ensure their survival for future generations.
The chimneys were all part of working mine sites in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Local mine operator Ravenswood Gold said the structures had been repaired in 1979, but had remained untouched in the meantime – leaving them with many missing or disintegrating bricks and several substantial cracks.
Ravenswood Gold chief executive officer Brett Fletcher said he was very happy to be part of such an important project and was impressed with the results of the restoration so far.
“To be in a position to help retain and repair the heritage of this wonderful old mining town is fantastic,” he said.
“These chimneys are such an important feature of the Ravenswood landscape – the three chimneys are the first thing visitors see when they turn off the Burdekin Falls Dam Road into the township.”
The chimneys are being repointed and repaired by Brisbane company Mozbiz, who specialise in heritage brickwork and use traditional methods to repair brick structures.
Alek Potrzeba from Mozbiz said that when replacement bricks were required, they were sourced from within the area to ensure they were of a similar age and structure.
“We have replaced around 100 bricks at the General Grant and it’s looking like it will be a similar number at the Sunset No.2. The chimneys are in good condition though, considering their age,” he said.
“We use a product called Helifix to bind the cracks, it’s a concealed structural tie that was specifically designed in the United Kingdom for use in heritage brickworks and it works very well in the chimneys.”
Mr Potrzeba believes the three chimneys were constructed in different styles – the round Mable Mill, the square Grand Junction and the octagonal Sunset No.2 – due to a sense of competition between early bricklayers and an opportunity to show off their craft.
“There is some beautiful work here, the base of the Sunset No.2 is a great example of tuck-pointing and we are using the same methods now to restore the mortar,” he said.
Three further chimneys – which are located within the mining footprint of the Ravenswood Expansion Project (REP) – are to be moved to a heritage storage area.
Mr Fletcher said the mine was working alongside the Ravenswood Restoration and Preservation Association on the establishment of a heritage precinct.
“Several of the larger mining artefacts from the Buck Reef West area including the Duke of Edinburgh boilers and the Deep Mine Mill strongroom will be relocated to the heritage precinct before mining recommences in that area,” he said.
“The precinct will be an accessible area for tourists and school groups and will highlight the early methods of mining in Ravenswood and the equipment used at this time.
“We are also in the process of setting up a museum in the precinct that will showcase the lives of women on the early goldfields and to capture the stories of the Birriah People – the Traditional Owners of the area.”
The REP will see the return to large-scale open pit mining in Ravenswood and the project will provide employment for about 400 people for at least the next 14 years.
Images below: (top) Alek Potrzeba at Ravenswood’s Grand Junction chimney, and (bottom) the Grand Junction chimney after repairs to the brickwork.