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Ravensthorpe Historical Society

About Desmond

Desmond is located on the Ravensthorpe Hopetoun Road 12 kilometres southeast of Ravensthorpe and is easily landmarked by the Elverdton copper mine headframe.

In 1900 barefoot kangaroo shooter Bob Elverd found gold and later copper on this site. Soon a mine camp with a population of over 50 was recorded. Len Hatfield was the first school teacher and taught children in a three-bedroom home.

Not until 1909 was the mine camp surveyed by Alfred Middleton, gazetted in June and named Desmond where it lay at the foothills of Mt Desmond in the Ravensthorpe Range. By then there were several Desmond mines in operation with 114 residential and business lots already with stores, butcher’s shop, railway siding, boarding house, hall, Desmond Hotel, unofficial post office and private homes. A new government school was built. Bread and green groceries were delivered by horse and cart from Ravensthorpe. Dry food came by sea through Hopetoun port and then by donkey and horse teams.

In 1908 the railway came into operation to transport copper ore to the government smelter near Ravensthorpe. The copper matte was then transported by rail through Hopetoun port for export. The railway had now replaced the teams. There was a direct telephone link to Ravensthorpe. 1910 Desmond had a post office and clubhouse. The following year interest in mining waned and people began to drift away from the area. The school closed in 1915 and the town was officially closed in 1916 but records show people still remained living there until 1923. By 1919 operations ceased when the Ravensthorpe smelter also closed. Buildings were shifted to Ravensthorpe and nearby farms. The mine manager’s house was purchased and transported by horses and salmon pole jinker to Condingup Farm in 1924. It is still being lived in today. The Desmond Hotel was dismantled and recycled as McGough’s Eating House in Ravensthorpe.

Large scale mining resumed in 1957 until 1971 and the Elverdton copper mine was re-opened. 150 employees travelled by bus on a newly sealed road from Ravensthorpe each day whilst the mine manager and some employees lived around the mine site. This time copper concentrate was transported by road to Esperance port, initially on a gravel and boggy sandy road, mainly for export to Japan. During this period the power house supplied electricity to Ravensthorpe town until the mid 1980s. It was also a boost to the New Land farmers who sought employment to help develop their virgin bush blocks into productive farms.

The deepest working reached 500 feet vertical depth and low grade mineralisation at the Elverdton mine had been found at 1,150 feet. A large network of underground shafts joined the Elverdton and Desmond mines.

Elverdton copper mine was Western Australia’s largest copper mine producing 30% of the State’s total production.To find out more about mining in the Ravensthorpe district, you may consult The History of Mining in the Phillips River Goldfield, available from the museum.

There was a short boost of activity in 1987/1990 when gold prices rose and the Elverdton treatment plant was used for open-cut gold mining and reprocessing tailings from Kundip gold mines. In 1991 the buildings and plant from Elverdton and Kundip mines were sold by auction. The large flywheel from the Elverdton power house is on display in Ravensthorpe at Rangeview Park.

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