Ravensthorpe

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Ravensthorpe
Ravensthorpe Museum boasts some interesting displays. PIC: Tourism Western Australia

Ravensthorpe in Western Australia’s Golden Outback may be small but – as far as attractions for grey nomads goes – it certainly packs a punch.

The proud sheep and wheat town, located about 190 kilometres west of Esperance, was born out of the gold and copper mining boom. Its population is now just 500 or so, but it still hosts what is reported to be the world’s biggest wildflower festival every September.

The town sits on the doorstep of the world-class Fitzgerald River National Park and the unique Ravensthorpe Range, where about 20% of Western Australia’s floral species can be found. The development of Ravensthorpe during the boom years was rapid and, by 1909, the population had reached 3000.

However, by 1918, most prospectors had moved away, leaving a legacy of interesting historical structures. These include the Cocanarup Homestead built around 1870 from local stone and galvanised iron; the eye-catching Palace Hotel built in 1907 with a large upstairs verandah; the disused Government Smelter which stands as a reminder of the importance of the town during the copper and gold rush period; and St Andrews Church which was built using corrugated iron in 1906.

The best place to learn about how the town developed is at the Ravensthorpe Historical Society Museum, but this community is not just relying on its proud past to draw grey nomads to town. Its three recently painted silos now pay colourful tribute to the wildflowers for which the area is famous, and depict the different flowering cycle stages of the Banksia baxteri species.

The town has also identified a gap in the over-sized object market, and has unveiled what it claims is the world’s biggest freestanding lollypop! It is more than seven metres tall and four metres wide and stands outside the Yummylicious Candy Shack.

Australia’s Golden Outback Chief Executive Marcus Falconer said the world’s biggest lollypop is a great reason for visitors to stop in Ravensthorpe.

“It’s something a little bit different and you can’t help but feel happy when you look it,” he said.

There are also some amazing drives in the area including the iconic Hamersley Drive Heritage Scenic Trail, a 170-kilometre circular route that makes its way to Fitzgerald River National Park.

As well as several excellent caravan parks, there is free 48-hour camping available opposite Ravensthorpe’s BP Roadhouse for fully self-contained vehicles, and also at nearby Hopetoun. Additionally, there are several shire-operated campsites, including those at Mason Bay and Starvation Bay which have recently been upgraded to provide more sites and toilet facilities.

And, of course there is a range of camping options at the truly stunning Fitzgerald River National Park. History, lollies, natural beauty, silo art, wildflowers … and a warm welcome.

Yup, Ravensthorpe rocks.

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