Day 183 – Wednesday, 23 November 2022

This morning Russ was fighting a migraine so took things slowly. We had a peaceful night without noise or lights shining through windows.

I washed all the bedding, including the polar fleece blanket, and put summer sheets on the bed. It was a good move as the temperature 33 degrees.

Russ spoke with mum who told him that the resident cat at respite care, Penny, wandered into her room yesterday and one of the staff passing by her room at the time came in and placed Penny on her bed where she promptly curled up and went to sleep for an hour or so.

After lunch we put out the awning to provide some shade from the sunshine on the windows and then headed into town to the Visitor Information Centre, which is also the museum.

The lovely lady on duty provided me with heaps of offerings among which are several self-drive tours of the area.

While Russ slept (with the air conditioner on) I updated the diary in the computer ready for printing and read many of the pamphlets that I was

given. We definitely don’t have enough time here in Ravensthopre to do everything of interest that is available. They have an amazing booklet for the two-week period of the Ravensthorpe Wildflower Festival, offering Tag-Along Tours to places where they are flowering, Workshops (for those who are more interested in that type of things), Walks with birdies, walk with wildflower people, orchid hunting etc. Lots to do in September next year.

In 1848, the Ravensthorpe area was first surveyed by then State Surveyor-General John Septimus Roe. Ravensthorpe was initially known as the Phillips River Goldfield. It is known that the brothers Dunn James, John, Robert and Walter, first came to the region in 1868 and leased the pastoral property of Cocanarup to establish a sheep station. Farming infrastructure was erected on the Phillips River and stores were brought in from Mary Ann Haven (now Hopetoun).

During an incident in 1880, John Dunn was speared and died of his wounds.

His brother James Dunn found gold at Annabel Creek and was given a reward claim by the government in 1898. This was the start of the Phillips River Goldfield which brought many other prospectors into the district, amongst which were Taylor, Dance and McKenzie.

These prospectors set up a camp which they called Hawk’s Nest, halfway between the Floater and Cattlin mines. Eventually, the town of Ravensthorpe was surveyed in 1900 and gazetted in 1901 with the Shire around it covering some 13,151 square km.

The gold rush resulted in the development of gold and copper mining in or around Ravensthorpe Range. Mining has continued spasmodically over the years.

The population of Ravensthorpe and the Goldfield peaked in 1911, when (according to police records) 2,011 people lived there, mostly associated with gold mining.

Agriculture continued to grow after the depression in the nineteen-thirties and with further land releases in the nineteen sixties and seventies, remains the principal industry of the area.

A timeline of events follows:

In 1802 Matthew Flinders in the “Investigator” charts the south coast.

In 1841 John Eyre walks through the area near the coast, while exploring from South Australia to Albany (WA).

In 1870 John Forrest surveys near coast for Perth/Adelaide telegraph line.

In 1871 Mary Ann Haven is named by whaler Mr Thomas after his daughter. John Dunn takes three months to bring sheep overland from Albany to Cocanarup with his brother George.

In 1873 Dunn brothers were formally granted 4049 hectares.

In 1880 John Dunn was killed by Wudjari people.

In 1882 the first white women visited Cocanarup (Elizabeth & Eliza Dunn and a Miss Gillam).

In 1896 Eliza Dunn comes to Cocanarup to housekeep for her brothers.

In 1898 James Dunn finds gold at Annabel Creek and is given a reward claim. The Phillips River Goldfield is designated.

In 1899 Prospectors arrive at Hawks Nest near Cattlin Creek. Dallison brothers find gold at “Harbour View” Kundip.

In 1900 Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun surveyed and gazetted in 1901. Mary Ann Haven renamed Mary Ann Harbour.

In 1901 the Metropolitan Hotel and a general store were built in Hopetoun. Population of Ravensthorpe reached 500 and school opens with 19 students. Hopetoun is established and a small jetty constructed. Ravensthorpe named after the surrounding Ravensthorpe Range. Hopetoun was named after the first Governor General, the Earl of Hopetoun.

Also in that year, the survey and construction of No 1. Rabbit Proof Fence (1822 kilometres) commenced.

Arthur Chambers and Dave Neil plant first crop of wheat in 1902.

In 1903 a trial copper smelter was built near Hawks Nest. Phillips River Road Board was formed.

In 1904 the State Government built a smelter near Cordingup Gap on Esperance road.

In 1905 the No 2 smelter was built on Hopetoun Road. The mine manager’s house and a hospital were also built in Ravensthorpe. It celebrated the first gold mining at Hatters Hill.

The smelter was sold to private company in 1906 and the Commercial Hotel was built in Ravensthorpe.

In 1908 the Bank of WA builds premises in Ravensthorpe, and the following year a Railway line opens between Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe.

In 1916 the Phillips River Road Board offices burnt down, and in 1921 the Copper smelters and mines closed. Most prospectors moved away (mines continued to operate, depending on the price of copper until 1971).

In 1930 the Great Depression was experienced and there was a general exodus from the land.

In 1931 Claude de Bernales company commenced diamond drilling at Kundip, while in 1936 the Hopetoun Ravensthorpe Railway closed.

In 1937 Hopetoun Port closes and shipping through Hopetoun ceases. The following year the Ravensthorpe hospital closed.

In 1943 Salmon fishing began at 12 Mile Beach, east of Hopetoun.

In 1947 the Salmon cannery was built at Hopetoun. The wheat bin was erected in Carlisle Street, Ravensthorpe, and an Ambulance was donated for local use.

1948 saw the first school bus service in the district, while by 1950 a weekly bus service ran from Perth to Ravensthorpe.

On the 26 June 1956 snow fell in Ravensthorpe.

Elverdton and Cattlin copper mines re-opened in 1958; Ravensthorpe Copper NL built 38 houses in Ravensthorpe, and the hospital re-opened.

In 1960 there was a land boom with 325 farm blocks allocated throughout Munglinup, Jerdacuttup, Fitzgerald and North Ravensthorpe. The local schools were established.

In 1961 the Phillips River Road Board becomes Ravensthorpe Shire Council. The following year the sheep and cattle sale yards were built, and the aerodrome was surveyed northwest of Ravensthorpe.

In 1967 a new courthouse and police station were built at Ravensthorpe, and CBH builds the covered grain storage facilities in Dance Street. The following year the Bank of NSW built new premises in Morgan Street, and the town water scheme and reticulation opened.

In 1971 the Ravensthorpe School was upgraded to Junior High School, and the Elverdton mine closed.

Fitzgerald National Park was gazetted in 1973.

1976 saw the opening of the new Shire Hall. First resident doctor commenced practise (KO Danker). All phones were now automatic STD.

By 1977 all main roads in the shire were sealed and the SEC power was supplied in Hopetoun.

In 1978 the Fitzgerald River National Park was declared an International Biosphere Area by UNESCO. Mains water supply began for Hopetoun.

In 1979 the Ravensthorpe Senior Citizens Centre opened. “Back to Ravensthorpe” celebrations coincide with State’s 150th anniversary.

The first annual Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show was held in 1981, and in 1985 (a momentous year for locals!) the ABC TV was available via satellite.

In 1996 the community swimming pool opened in Ravensthorpe, while 2000 saw flooding in Ravensthorpe.

In 2001 a Richter 5.4 earthquake occurred at Jerdacuttup.

In 2005 with the BHP Billiton construction phase, population significantly increased in Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun. A new airport was built between the towns and air service commenced.

2008 saw the official opening ceremony for BHP Billiton’s Ravensthorpe Nickel Project. Official opening of the Ravensthorpe Entertainment Centre.

In 2009 operations at BHP Billiton’s Ravensthorpe Nickel Project was suspended and approximately 1800 jobs lost. Air Service ceased at the Ravensthorpe Airport. Official opening of Galaxy Resources Limited.

In 2010 the Ravensthorpe Nickel Operations was sold to First Quantum Minerals Australia Pty Ltd. Galaxy Resources Ltd were mining spodumene for lithium at Hawk’s Nest. [Spodumene is a pyroxene mineral and a source of lithium which occurs as colourless to yellowish-green or emerald-green crystals, often of great size. (Pyroxenes are a group of important rock-forming minerals found in many igneous and metamorphic rocks.)]

In 2014 a Major tourist development in Fitzgerald River National Park was completed, and the following year the Heavy Haulage Route (bypass) at Ravensthorpe commenced and was completed in December.