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Avoca

Avoca is a town in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia, 71 kilometres (44 mi) north west of Ballarat.

Details

  • Area:102.809 km2
  • Elevation:242 m
  • Population:1,193
  • Local Government Area:Pyrenees Shire Council

Description

Avocais a town in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia, 71 kilometres (44 mi) north west of Ballarat. It is one of two main towns in the Pyrenees Shire, the other being Beaufort to the south. # History ## Early settlement and the gold rush The explorer and surveyor Thomas Mitchell was the first European recorded to have travelled through the Avoca district. He found the area more temperate in climate and better watered than inland New South Wales, and he encouraged settlers to take up land in what he described as "Australia Felix". The Blood Hole massacre occurred at Middle Creek, near Glengower at the end of 1839 or early 1840 killing an unknown number of Dja Dja Wurrung people.By 1850 there were several large sheep runs, and pastoral settlement was well established. Like Ballarat and many other Victorian towns, Avoca sprang into being suddenly in the 1850s with the discovery of gold. Gold was first found in Victoria in 1849 in the Pyrenees Ranges near Avoca.But it was not for another two years that the first discovery of any importance took place. In 1851 a shepherd called James Esmond found gold at Clunes, 40 kilometres (25 mi) from present-day Avoca, setting off a gold rush to the region. In 1853 gold was found at Four Mile Flat, near Avoca, and the main lead at Avoca itself was opened up a few months later. By the beginning of December 1853, the population had increased from 100 to 2,200, and by June the following year, Avoca, with a population of 16,000, was regarded as one of Victoria's more important gold rush districts. With a Court, a police station, Post Office (opened 1 September 1854), gold wardens, churches, and schools, Avoca had established itself as an administrative centre. This was a crucial development in its survival as a town, for when the gold miners left their Avoca claims to travel to the new Dunolly rush in 1856, Avoca continued to serve as the focus of the region's commercial and administrative life. With the Lamplough rush in 1859, miners returned to the Avoca district, and in that year rich deposits were also opened up at Homebush, established on the site of the 1853 Four Mile Flat rush. This discovery brought renewed activity to the district. The value of gold mining to the economy of the area may be seen in a single statistic: from 1859 to 1870 gold worth £2,500,000 was sent from Avoca to Melbourne. (Even this huge sum may represent as little as one third of the gold won as private sales were not included.) On 16 April 1889, gold mining ceased in Avoca with the closure of the Golden Stream Company mine. All that is visible today of the Golden Stream Mine is several large mullock heaps of mainly white pipeclay on the west side of the Sunraysia Highway between the railway crossing and the Avoca Cemetery. ## From mining to agriculture and pastoralism Avoca's economic basis was shifting rapidly from gold mining to agriculture. Many of the miners who had rushed the area in the 1850s and early 1860s settled and took up land. The big pastoral runs that had existed before the rushes were broken up for closer settlement. In addition to running sheep, several vineyards were planted from the late 1850s onward.Mining continued to be an important source of employment, but for the last decades of the nineteenth century most miners no longer worked individually or in small teams except for a small number of larger companies still working deep leads. Homebush, about ten kilometres from Avoca, was based almost entirely on company mines and flourished for several decades before these mines became uneconomical. Rural Victoria was hit particularly by the depression and drought of the 1890s. From 1895 the larger mines in the Avoca district closed and at the outbreak of World War I very few companies were still in operation.The downturn also affected agriculture in general with the last vineyard ceasing activity in 1929. Across Australia rural productivity was rising, partly through the development of agricultural machinery by implement makers such as Mackay and Shearer. Some rural areas in 1901 recorded five times the harvest yields of the 1890s, at a small fraction of the cost. In the first decade of the twentieth century Avoca's infrastructure was further developed. More and better roads were being built, the Shire Engineer attributed the problem of bad roads to heavier traffic from increased cultivation of land and more produce being brought to market. In 1911 the Sugarloaf reservoir was opened, and in the same year the district was linked to the rest of the State by telephone. The Avoca Magistrates' Court closed on 1 April 1979, not having been visited by a Magistrate since 1971. # Weather The Bureau of Meteorology maintains temperature and rainfall statistics for Avoca, showing it has an mean maximum temperature of 20.3 C and an annual rainfall of 543 mm. # Things to do

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