The Historic House is called Ringsfield House, a country estate house in Nanango in country Queensland. Built in 1908, it is defined by its bay windows, wide verandahs, and large rooms.
It served as a private home until 1942, when it served as Ringsfield Maternity Hospital, delivering nearly 4000 babies through to 1970.
In 1972 the estate was taken over by the council, and used by Lifeline Brisbane as a refuge for women and children, until 1993 when it was planned to become a historical centre and museum.
The Nanango Historical Society took over Ringsfield, restored the building and added additional buildings of historical significance.
In March 2017 it was handed over to the South Burnett Regional Council, and from November 2017 (last month), Ringsfield now operates as a cafe and restaurant, and a venue for weddings and other functions. It still operates as a museum, now with free admission.
Entering the estate from Alfred St, you are greeted with a rose and hedges garden, at the front of Ringsfield House. Green lawns adorned with beautiful trees sit in front of the garden.
Walk up the stairs onto the wide verandah and into the central hallway of the house. Off the hall are rooms that are explicitly decorated. They are not typical museum rooms, rather they are functional rooms of the house, maintained, cleaned and presented it is someone’s current home.
Ringsfield House being available for functions and weddings probably lends itself to having the presentation of the rooms in this way. Rooms may not be available for access if they are being used for a function. The dining room was in use when I arrived, but was vacated while I was still there so I was still able to have a look around in there.
Some of the rooms are more typical of museums. The maternity room has displays of hospital equipment, and a bed set up with a metal framed cot beside it. These too are laid out fairly sparsely, rather than the tightly packed collection many museums have trying to fit the items in the space they have.
The back of the house is where the kitchen operates from, and the left side (looking inward at the front of the house) is where the cafe and seating is located. You are free to wander around most of the house, though some spaces like the kitchen can’t be accessed.
Outside, there are numerous buildings to explore, with a chapel, the old Nanango State School building from 1866, coach house, and slab hut.
The coach house has collections of various items, old fridges, barber’s chair, cast iron wood stove, and a variety of farming tools among other things.
The slab hut is furnished sparsely, with a dirt floor, an offset cooking area, and a simple bed made from slats of wood laid on the ground.
Picnic tables and shade is provided in the same section of the property, and outside toilets is next to the slab hut that looks not much different from the outside.
To get there:
Coming into Nanango from Kingaroy on D’Aguilar Hwy, turn right into Cairns St with the brown sign 1.3km after the golf course. After 230m, turn left into Alfred St, and the entry to Historic Ringsfield House is 100m on the right. Parking is available on the street out front.
Coming into Nanango from Yarraman on D’Aguilar Hwy, turn left into Alfred St opposite the Aquatic Centre, about 1km or so coming into town. The entry to Historic Ringsfield House is 700m on the left. Parking is available on the street out front.
Hours: Mon-Tue 7am-5pm, Wed-Sat 7am-9pm, Sun 7am-4pm
Food: Yes, cafe and restaurant
Wheelchair accessible: Yes