Ravenswood is a rural locality on the Calder Highway and main railway line to Bendigo. It is 17 km south of Bendigo’s city centre.
Ravenswood was the name of a pastoral run, also known as Mount Alexander North, taken up in 1840. The name ‘Ravenswood’ dates from 1857 and the inspiration for the name was probably the House of Ravenswood in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Bride of Lammermoor, first published in 1819. Scott’s novels were republished and remained popular for several decades. The pastoral run occupied 482 sq km.
Bendigo Creek, where gold was first found in 1851, was at the northern tip of the run. Some authorities hold that the run’s co-proprietor, Frederick Fenton, or one of his employees made the discovery. Fenton was one of 13 claimants for the reward for the discovery. His more enduring memorial, however, was the building of the Ravenswood homestead (late 1850s) between the Calder Highway and the Bullock Creek a short way east of the highway. It was designed by Bendigo’s foremost architect, William Vahland.
Ravenswood had one of the few early hotels – the Porcupine Inn – for diggers en route to the diggings. The Ravenswood homestead became a district focal point, particularly when acquired by Bendigo’s Hugh Atkinson in about 1874 and kept in the family for 70 years. In occupied 3560 ha and employed up to 30 workers.
The railway line through Ravenswood, from Melbourne to Bendigo, was opened in 1862. The route through Ravenswood occurred because of the need to include Castlemaine on the line, and a tunnel 392 metres long was blasted through granite hills north of the township. A large railway-workers settlement was there for the tunnel works. Ravenswood became a destination for Bendigo excursionists with its two creeks and undulating country. The Ravenswood goods platform dispatched livestock and mine timber.
Schools were opened at Ravenswood (1872) and Ravenswood South (1875). In 1903 Ravenswood was described in the Australian handbook:
In 1952 part of the Ravenswood holding was sold for soldier-settler farms. Subsequent proprietors of the homestead block raised prize-winning merino sheep. In 1970 the railway station and its post office were decommissioned. Both schools closed within a decade. The Junction Hotel (1872) was severely damaged by fire in 2014. The homestead continued to provide accommodation and meals. It is on the Victorian Heritage Register. There are irrigated orchards at Ravenswood South.
Ravenswood’s census populations have been:
|Ravenswood and environs||2011||374|
A Ravenswood muster, Back to Ravenswood Committee, 1972
Shire of Marong, 1864-1964, the Shire, 1964
Ken Arnold, Bendigo its environs: the way it was, Bendigo, 2003