The Shire of Ravensthorpe covers 13,533 sq kilometres in the south of Western Australia. It encompasses several national parks, including the Frank Hann in the north and the world Biosphere, Fitzgerald River National Park on the coast.
With a population of 1,400 the main industries are farming, mining and tourism. The indigenous inhabitants were the Wudjari Aborigines. The first white pastoralists bringing sheep to Cocanarup in 1872. Gold was discovered in the area in 1892 and soon the rush began as hopeful prospectors made their way to the Phillips River Goldfield. The town was gazetted in 1901 but there were no roads and access was by sea through Hopetoun. The port of Mary Ann Haven, later called Hopetoun, was soon built to facilitate shipping access and a railway from Hopetoun to Ravensthorpe was completed in 1909.
The fortunes of agriculture and mining have waxed and waned through the years. At present grain, sheep and cattle production thrive in good years and nickel is being mined at Bandalup Hill.
Tourism continues to grow as better facilities and access to the national parks are built. The pristine coast, empty beaches and sheltered camping areas attract artists, photographers and the more adventurous travellers. In spring when the world renowned wildflowers bloom, visitors arrive from all over the globe to see the exceptional variety and in some cases rarity of the unique Ravensthorpe Shire’s flora.
The town of Ravensthorpe, situated on Highway 1, is the business centre of the shire with bank, shire office, hospital, doctor, primary and district high school, churches, post office, general store, agricultural supplies, restaurants, motels and caravan park. Hopetoun, growing with the arrival of increased mining, offers a peaceful lifestyle and is a popular holiday destination with good fishing, hotel, motel, caravan parks, primary school, church, general store, real estate agent, doctor, bakery/delicatessen and choice of restaurants.