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Ravensthorpe Historical Society

About Hopetoun

It is said that Hopetoun, or Mary Ann Haven as it was then known, was first named by a whaler named Thomas in 1871. By 1900 the town was officially surveyed and gazetted in February 1901, together with its cemetery. Mary Ann Haven was renamed Mary Ann Harbour. Its subsequent importance was due to the fact that it became the entry point to the newly discovered Phillips River Goldfield.

Hopetoun’s history, especially in the early years was intimately linked to its jetty .

As gold had been found in the nearby Phillips River District and given rise to the inland towns of Desmond, Ravensthorpe and and Kundip, it was felt that a jetty needed to be built at Mary Ann Haven to facilitate unloading of freight ships. Until the jetty was built in 1901, freight and passengers had to be lowered into small boats by baskets and then rowed ashore. The short lightering jetty allowed the unloading into lighters. With the increased traffic due to the discovery of gold, the facility became insufficient and was extended to deeper water, a total of 642 feet (214 m).

Freight and passengers were hauled over the jetty by wagon and horse or donkey teams until 1906 when the Western Australian Government decided to build a railway from Ravensthorpe to the end of the jetty. To that end, the jetty was yet again extended to a total length of 472 m, curving towards the south-east so that water depth at low tide was 3.6m. The railway was opened in 1909 and continued operation till until 23rd February, 1935. Road transport was gaining in importance and the train was uneconomical to run.

Since the demise of shipping into Hopetoun (1937), the small town slid into a peaceful backwater to become a most popular holidaying spot for inland farmers and Kalgoorlie miners seeking refuge from the summer heat. It is also the eastern gateway to the world renowned Fitzgerald River National Park, one of the UNESCO listed biospheres.

In 1983 the 89 year old Hopetoun Jetty was demolished and replaced by a groyne. Mrs. W. Chambers who collated the jetty’s history wondered if the new groyne would be equal to the task provided by the old jetty who had served the community so well in all kinds of weather.

Extracts from The History of the Hopetoun Jetty©, compiled and collated by Winifred Chambers and produced by RHS, 2013. For a full account of the Hopetoun Jetty, please see RHS’s publication on that topic.

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