Ravensthorpe AMOK Island
Mining brought me to Ravensthorpe seven years ago now. I was fly-in, fly-out from Mandurah. After about three years in the mines, I said to my husband “we’re moving to Ravensthorpe, because I don’t want to do fly-in, fly-out anymore.” So we moved to town and I fell in love with Ravensthorpe. We bought a beautiful home backing onto bushland and I stayed working on the mines for a little while, and then this dream came about. It wasn’t always a dream. I woke up one morning and I said to my husband, “We’re going to be purchasing this place on the main street, and I’m going to be opening up a chocolate lolly shop.” And he said, “I do believe you will.”
A year and a half later, it was ready to go. We opened it up on Saturday the 8th of September. My partner, Darrin, did all the painting and it looks like the colours of the rainbow. There’s fun everywhere; there’s big, large liquorice blocks out the front, and we have a big sign that you can put your head through and become a clown on the other side. It’s very touristy, we have three-tiered mushrooms in the garden, and fairies, beautiful flowerbeds, an umbrella with tables and chairs. Out the back, we have the party shack for the children, and a big commercial jumping castle. But it’s not only for the children, it’s for the adults as well. I want to take people back in time and remind them of the fun of childhood. People love it; they let their inner child out when they come through the door.
I have a lot of different hats in the town. We run the Ravensthorpe Motel, and I’m president of Ravensthorpe Progress Association. I’m chairperson of the Fitzgerald Tourism Association, I’m an ambulance officer; I’m on the State Emergency Service; and I’m also on the committee of the Youth Club, and the consultation committee of Galaxy, our mine. That’s as far as I’m going, because I can’t do anymore. We pay forward a lot with the community. My qualifications are in applied science, community and human resources. It cost me two years of my life to do the 24 subjects, but now I’m able to help others, and I’m happy to help them freely. I feel like I’m living my life to the fullest. I have a lot of fun every day. I love people and I love it when they come in here. But that’s Darrin, he’s a beautiful teacher in regards to that. It gets a bit tiring, depending on the time of the year. Especially when you’re getting ambulance callouts in the evening, and you’re not getting home until eleven forty five, and you’ve already done a whole full day. But, you know what, it’s that satisfaction that I’ve helped somebody, I’ve been there for someone. And most of the community knows everybody here, so it helps to see a familiar face. I’ve had a couple of them call me a fairy in the back of the ambulance: “You remind me of a fairy!” So, all right, I’ll be a fairy this evening!
We rely on our tourist industry, so we’re really concentrating on making sure that our town is spectacular. We have plans of placing the largest free-standing lollipop in the world in our front yard to bring tourists over to this side of WA. It would cost nineteen thousand plus dollars to put it up. It’s thirty foot high. The idea came about when the floods came through and our bridges were down, around when FQM closed the mine. I thought, “What can I do to help people in this town? That’s what it’s all about, it’s just making people happy. We’ve set up the Candy Shack now and we spent a lot of our life savings on it. It cost us a bit but it was a dream that we made come true: they do exist.
The motel’s been pretty much fully booked the last few months with all the mine workers coming in to town. We don’t have any rentals left. The whole town is fully occupied and they’re heading now towards Hopetoun to find accommodation. We’re lucky. When our big mine closed down it was just terrible for town, and then we had the floods, and the bridges all went down. It sort of happened all together and Hopetoun really suffered, but we’ve been very blessed to have Galaxy Resources come in. It’s filled us up here, and they also really support the community in regards to funding. Ravensthorpe is beautiful. We have kangaroos jumping around the place, kookaburras, wildlife. The wildflowers are amazing when they come up everywhere. My favourite story about the town would be the first parade that we did here for our Spring Carnival. I had all the children dressed up in rainbow outfits. We were all in rainbows, and had our big banner, and we were throwing out lollies like a real genuine parade. That was one of my best memories, the first time we actually did that and were involved in the community, really involved with the community. Acceptance is a big thing here, to be accepted. Because you have people who’ve been here for ever and ever, that were born here.
When I turned up at my first Ravensthorpe Progress Association meeting I wasn’t used to what life was like in a little country town. Coming from suburbia, I walked into that room, and I’m not kidding you, most of the ladies there were knitting! And I just felt like I could breathe again. I felt like this was home. This is home. And I love it with everything that I have. We are lucky to be part of this beautiful community and residents.