Latest Success Stories
Mainstreet Revitalisation Study
Shire of Ravensthorpe
Ravensthorpe, Western Australia 6346
Type of work:
In 2022 The shire of Ravensthorpe engaged Land Insights to devise and execute a study to revitalise the towns of Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun located on the south coast of WA. Land Insights used a narrative design technique to engage with local people, clubs and community groups including business owners. We wanted to find out what each of the towns means to its local people, what they remembered about the past and what hopes they held for the future. Both towns had been presented as needing to rebound after the pandemic; an experience which battered local confidence and shut-down tourism for an extended period of years.
We discovered a rich history of stories, pride in the place and its nature, the citizens past and present, also the importance of local business and industry as a lead investor of each town. The shire has recently upgraded their civic centre in Ravensthorpe, and it now presents as a very contemporary space – fit for good things to be shared around the town community. Morgans Street itself has probably seen better times- it is full of empty sites, vacant shops and despite some fine landscaping efforts of the past – the energy is not high on the street. A by-pass constructed in the 1980’s diverted some traffic away from the centre of town, however grey nomad campers still manage to find their way in to re-stock, ablute and maybe take a shot of the painted silos. Morgans Street can offer much more.
Hopetoun is a once sleepy town by the ocean, and its shacks and laid-back houses and businesses present as somewhere in no hurry. Locals seem to like it that way. Both towns have the potential to attract tourism with a fully operational airport and on the doorstep of the Fitzgerald National Park and spectacular coastline, no wonder the locals are keen to enjoy what is at their door! Veal Street is currently the main road in, and out of town. The main appeal to local people is their beloved groyne at the end of the street. Doing a ‘groyney’ at this place is the hub for all keen fisherfolk. It provides a sunset experience second to none in that part of the coast.
Both Morgans Street and Veal Street offer prospect for focus of local identity. Our study found that under the surface both towns have a keen and interested corps of local people who find ways to work in and around any problem that arises. Our work assisted the Shire to see that there is scope for both towns to awaken and to chart a pathway to appeal to visitors with an authentic character. Like two sisters each with its own personality, Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun centres promise an enjoyable experience: one quite like nowhere else. Our study saw no need to project inauthentic ideas onto these two towns. Each town has plenty of ideas of its own and our work might better assist in resolving these into a more cohesive delivery of works and experience.
One of Land Insights recommendations is to form two town teams – one for each town. The RAC provides funds for this activity and encourages local people to step up in the quest for local energy and identity. Some urban design ideas were put forward for each town centre, with Morgans Street to become a tourism hub of information, experience and comfortable all-year events and accommodation. Business needs to drive this focus in the centre of town. Schools community also needs to be part of what happens in town.
Hopetoun will continue to be a summertime place of carefree days and gentle nights of simple pleasures. Tourists will visit and wonder at the national park backdrop and sunset coastline. Veal Street can become a day-tour hot-spot, re-energised by a couple of simple measures to create a central park meeting place and possible summertime events spaces.
Some suggestions are obvious but important. Heritage buildings in both towns need more LOVE and some shady trees and interesting parks can be nurtured to make the street spaces comfortable, and cooler in summer. Improved presentation can attract new business investments – appealing to people wanting to leave the city, and who can see the charm and appeal of starting a business living within a laid-back and caring community.
The Shire has agreed to adopt the Land Insights report for public information and comment. Some of the ideas discussed in the report may yet inspire the people of each town to accept the challenge of giving shape and form to re-imagine each town and to open up to welcome creative thinking. An Economic and Tourism Strategy for the shire was prepared by Lenon Consulting working with Land Insights to inform and deliver complementary strategies with vision for how Ravensthorpe might advance as a social and economic centre.
Our work captured the spirit of each town, and will hopefully inspire and re-imagine the possibility of places for people and their creative, productive, and happy lives.