The Musgrave Roadhouse on the way to Cape York in the far north has been gaining a reputation amongst truckies for being a good place to stop at when they are in the area.
It is located 136km north of Laura and is approximately halfway between Cairns and Weipa. Many locals drop in to pick up mail and so do numerous truckies in their big rigs, transporting essential supplies to remote Cape York communities and cattle stations.
During a recent visit one of my friends saw cows out the front providing a genuine rural atmosphere.
Once a year the roadhouse hosts a cricket carnival on concrete pitches out the front. The last one featured 12 men’s and women’s teams.
Former champion test players Jeff Thomson and Doug Walters were guests at the last carnival and proved a real hit with locals and visitors.
One Cape York driver said the roadhouse has good facilities, fuel is a reasonable price and there is a good selection of food available.
Musgrave Roadhouse is well known for its former role as a Telegraph Station, one of several that were essential links as communication was established between Thursday Island in the Torres Strait and Mt Surprise to our south west.
Musgrave Telegraph Station was named after Sir Anthony Musgrave who was governor of Queensland from 1883-1888. The station was one of six constructed to service the new electric telegraph line on Cape York Peninsula in 1886.
All six Cape York stations (Musgrave, Coen, Mein, Morton, McDonnell and Paterson) were pre-cut and framed in Brisbane by the contracting firm E & J Headland. It opened for business on December 23, 1886.
In the late 1920’s, the high cost of maintenance and low traffic on the line prompted the Post Master General to consider closing some of the stations.
Short wave radio had been introduced on Thursday Island and it was felt that alternate telegraph stations could be closed without seriously affecting the service. Musgrave Telegraph Station closed on June 22, 1929.
Fred Shepard bought the station in 1931. He already owned Lilyvale Station and then applied for the lease on Artemis and Mary Valley, thus completing the estate of 2350sq/km. He died in 1952 and the properties continued to be operated by his wife Mary and family. Mary retired to Mareeba in 1976 and the estate was divided between the families.
Because of its location Musgrave has always been of vital importance to the welfare of travellers in Cape York Peninsula. As more tourists began to visit the region the family decided to turn the homestead into a roadhouse.
Meals and drinks were originally served from under the house until the present café and accommodation were built in the 1980s. It has seen many changes but is still owned and operated by family members.