Coordinates: 33°56′56″S 120°07′26″E
Mean maximum temperature: 27.7C
Mean minimum temperature: 15.5C
Annual rainfall: 502mm
Hopetoun is a coastal town on the shores of Mary Ann Haven in the Shire of Ravensthorpe and is a popular holiday destination for families, campers and anglers. The town takes its name after the 7th Earl of Hopetoun and first Governor General of Australia, John Hope and sits 590km south-east of Perth and 341km north-east of Albany with a population of approximately 600.
As early as the 1820s whalers and sealers from Van Diemen's Land, who hunted in the Southern Ocean, knew of the shelter which the Hopetoun area offered. The first known European settlers to the region were the Dunn brothers, who in the 1860s spent three years clearing scrub and building sheep yards.
Traditionally, the Wudjari people roamed the area around Hopetoun and reminders of their presence remain in the names of local landmarks. Following the retaliatory spearing of John Dunn in 1880, many Wudjari were massacred, while a significant number left the area never to return.
Hopetoun attracted many itinerant Europeans after James Dunn discovered gold and copper at the Phillips River Goldfields near Ravensthorpe in 1898. Prospective miners would sail from Albany or Esperance to Hopetoun before being transported by road to Ravensthorpe. The townsite was gazetted on February 9, 1901 and mainly serviced the Phillips River Mining District. Later in the same year a jetty was built to service what was becoming a busy port for the gold mining industry. However this activity was shortlived and the port closed in 1936. A Hopetoun to Ravensthorpe branch line of the Western Australian Government Railways also existed until 1925.
Geologists regularly visit Hopetoun to study its rocks, which are packed with important data pertaining to the period when Australia was joined to Antarctica.
The town is also well known as a retirement centre and holiday destination for people from the state's Goldfields region and is an ideal stopping-off point for visitors exploring the Fitzgerald River National Park. Some of the town's electricity is generated by a wind-diesel system, consisting of two 600 kilowatt wind turbines and two low-load diesel generators. The town suffered a setback in 2009, when Australian mining giant BHP announced the closure of its nearby Ravensthorpe Nickel Mine, which had only opened the year before.
The Global Financial Crisis and the fall in demand for stainless steel, forced the mine to close its doors and as a result a large portion of the town's population left to seek employment elsewhere. However in 2010, the Ravensthorpe nickel operation was bought by Canadian First Quantum Minerals for US$340 million. The company expects the project's average annual production of nickel to be about 39,000 tonnes for the first five years after recommencement of operations and an average annual production of 28,000 tonnes of nickel over the mine’s expected life of 32 years.