The townsite of Ravensthorpe is located in the south coastal region, 541 kilometres east southeast of Perth and 50 kilometres north northwest of the coastal town of Hopetoun. The Ravensthorpe region was first settled by the Dunn brothers in the 1860's, and it was James Dunn who first found gold in the area in 1899. Gold mining in the area was not very productive until a new find in 1900 resulted in rapid growth. The Ravensthorpe area soon had a population of over 1000, and a strong demand for residential land.
Ravensthorpe was gazetted a townsite in January 1901, the name having been suggested by surveyor A.W. Canning after the nearby Ravensthorpe Range. The Ravensthorpe Range was named by Surveyor General J.S. Roe in 1848 in honour of Bishop Augustus Short who, prior to becoming Bishop of WA & SA in 1847, had been the Vicar of Ravensthorpe in Northamptonshire (England) from June 1835. Bishop Short is also commemorated by Mt Short, a hill in the Ravensthorpe Range.