Avoca and District

Historical Society Inc.

Victoria, Australia

President: Mr Tony O'Shea
Vice President: Mr Graham McMurray
Secretary: Mrs Jill Hunter
Treasurer: Mrs Dorothy Robinson
Committee: All of the above, plus Mrs Elizabeth Williams, Mrs Edna Jarvis, Mrs June Bruce and Mrs Cheryl Mallinson.
Research Officer: Mrs Dorothy Robinson
Editor: Mrs Margaret Pilgrim

Telephone: 03 5465 3118
E-mail address: 
Postal address: PO Box 24, Avoca, Vic 3467

Headquarters of the Society is an historic building at 85 High Street, Avoca, which was the Avoca Court House from 1859 to 1979.  It now contains a local history & family history resource centre containing thousands of documents, photographs, maps, microfilm of local newspapers & rate books, artifacts, etc., pertaining to the following  localities: Amherst, Amphitheatre, Avoca, Avoca Lead, Barkly, Ben Nevis, Bung Bong, Burnbank, Caralulup, Crowlands, Donkey Hill, Donkey Womans Gully, Dunach,  Elmhurst,  Evansford,  Eversley,  Four Mile Flat, Frenchmans, Glenlogie,  Glenmona, Glenpatrick, Greenhill Creek, Hinds,  Homebush,  Joel, Kimberley, Lamplough,  Landsborough, Lexton,  Lillicur, Moonambel, Mountain Creek, Mt. Lonarch, Mountain Hut, Moyreisk, Natte Yallock, Navarre, Nowhere Creek, Percydale,  Rathscar, Redbank,  Raggedy Gully, Stuart Mill,  Talbot, Tanwood, Tulkara, Warrenmang.  The Avoca Court House is an official  "Place of Deposit" (POD) appointed by the Public Record Office for retention of documents of local significance.

Please note: The Avoca Archives and Museum will be closed from mid-December to end of January.


Access to records:  The Court House is open each Wednesday between 10.30am and 4.0pm., or by appointment.  To arrange an appointment, please telephone 03 5465 3118 or email <adhsinc@bigpond.net.au> giving as much notice as possible of your proposed visit.  Access on Wednesdays is free to members, and there is a charge of $5 per person per hour.  For a "Special Opening" by appointment there is a charge of $30 for up to two hours.  In all cases there may be additional costs for any copying required.  The scale of charges is displayed prominently in the archives.

30th Anniversary Celebrations of the Avoca and District Historical Society - 18 May 2014.

(Craig Wilson, Editor and Proprietor of Pyrenees Newspapers Pty Ltd attended and took many photographs, and has given permission for this one to be reproduced on our website.)

L to R: Beryl Maidment, Tony O'Shea, Cr. Ron Eason, Dorothy Robinson, Denis Strangman, Vicki Burge, Margaret Oulton, Jill Hunter, Helen Harris OAM, Graeme Mills, Mary Dridan, Sue Slater, Edna Jarvis, Cr. Robert Vance (Mayor, Pyrenees Shire).

The Committee and members of the Avoca & District Historical Society Inc were delighted that the Society's 30th Birthday was attended by some 50 people, including many we had not seen for a long time. These included our Speaker, Helen Harris OAM (founder of the Society), our Webmaster, Denis Strangman from Canberra, and Margaret Oulton.   Mayor Robert Vance and Avoca Ward Councillor Ron Eason were also present, along with representatives from neighbouring Societies.   Our President, Cheryl Mallinson presented Denis Strangman with a framed "Life Membership" certificate, which included the following explanation:   "..... recognition of his work over the past two decades in maintaining the Society’s Website., which has been the major source of new memberships, paid research jobs, publication sales, etc., and as such he has made a major contribution to the fact that the Society is in such a strong position, financially and otherwise, as it reaches the Thirtieth Anniversary of its foundation this month."

Helen spoke about a list of things which were newsworthy in 1984, the year of our foundation, and about the necessity to continue working towards getting more female representation in positions of influence in each level of government.    She also alerted us to the possibility of working with Trove to get the early Avoca local papers digitised in a form that rendered them more accessible, and searchable by key words, rather than reading every page on a film reader.  Helen believes that this will inspire many more people to use our archives to research their ancestry.  She made the offer to partly fund this process, if we decide to use it, and the Committee will no doubt discuss it at our next meeting.   Maybe other members may like to emulate Helen's generosity.  

Mrs Cheryl Mallinson, President of the Society, chaired the proceedings.


A message from the President Tony O'Shea: This book has been "out of print" for some years now, and second-hand copies have been advertised on eBay for $65.
A very good quality reprint of the 360 page book is now available for $50 plus postage.
It weighs 1.025kg so postage needs careful calculation. It ranges between $12 within Victoria to $25 in more distant parts of Australia.
Please email adhsinc@bigpond.net.au for a quote on postage before remitting the funds.
Alternatively pay cash and collect your copy from the Avoca Court House on a Wednesday between 10.30am and 4.00pm.

Isabel Armer's Ghosts of the Glen has been reprinted and is available for $20 plus $3 postage. Click here for the order form as a PDF file.


The Society has for sale an A4 sized booklet on  good quality paper, 28 pages, copiously illustrated, entitled  "Moonambel Then & Now 1860-2010" which was produced as a souvenir of the sesqicentenary of discovery of gold at Moonambel.  A reproduction of the front cover appears above.

Also  for sale is a DL-sized booklet, 10 pages on glossy paper,  entitled "Heritage Walk of Moonambel" (see above). We also have copies of a facsimile edition of the "Pioneer" newspaper for sale (see below). This is a link to a PDF format of the order form for these publications.

The map above appears in Phil Warings booklet Pubs of Lamplough published by ADHS Inc as part of the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Lamplough Rush.  This will become a chapter in the book Pubs of the Pyrenees which Phil has been researching for many years and hopes to publish soon.  The Lamplough booklet contains 20 A4 pages, and is available for $10 per copy plus $2 postage. Click here to download an order form.

The above illustration is the top half of the front page of a  four page newspaper.  It is the first edition of  "The Avoca Mail and 
Pyrenees District Advertiser" dated Friday, December 11, 1863.  A limited number of copies are available for sale @ $2 per copy plus $1.50 p&p.  A downloadable order form as a .pdf is available by clicking here.

The Invisble Thread - The Story of Moonambel - By Merri Hogan

Note: Down to our last few copies!!

Available through the Avoca and District Historical Society Inc. Download Order Form here.

From the Preface"It includes material from A Hollow in the Hills, a limited edition souvenir book I wrote for the 125th anniversary of the Moonambel Primary School in 2000. It does not pretend to be a scholarly historical account, but I hope instead that it provides a brief
introduction to Moonambel - an attempt to introduce my community and to express my affection for it."

It was with great pleasure that the Avoca & District Historical Society Inc obtained the agreement of Miss Betty Beavis to assign to the Society the rights for reprints of her books, Pioneers of the Pyrenees and Avoca - The Early Years,  both of which have been out of print for some years.  The Society has regularly been asked whether these books are available for purchase, and we believe that a ready market exists, which we are about to satisfy.

"Pioneers of the Pyrenees"  is now available as a reprint, at a cost of $30 + $5 P&P (click here to download an Order Form)

We hope to have "Avoca - The Early Years" available in 2015. We are working on a revised edition, which will contain corrections of a number of mistakes and typographical errors in the original,  also the inclusion of some additional material discovered by the authors after the original version was printed.  

Both of these books are a delight to read and to use as a tool for further research, as they are copiously indexed and annotated with details of sources and attributions.  We only wish that all authors of histories would more closely follow the example of the Beavis sisters in this regard.


"The Barkly Story" by Eulalie Driscoll; an account of the early days of the townships of Barkly and Frenchman's, between Moonambel and 
Landsborough in Central Victoria.   Prior to November, 1861, Barkly was known as "Navarre Diggings".  Frenchman's is nearby, and was 
originally known as "Frenchman's Diggings" after a man of that nationality, nicknamed "French Froggy"  is believed to have "sunk the first claim" there.

The 4th edition of the book (with an index) is available from ADHS Inc at the Avoca Court House for $15.00 or by mail using the Order Form which may be downloaded here.

Avoca & District Men and Women Who Served in the Great War - a list prepared by Anne Young (A.C.T.) during her academic research of the subject. Click here.

Do you know the names of the soldiers in the first two photos and the man on the right in the third photo? If so, please contact the Secretary at: adhsinc@bigpond.net.au 

Friends of the Avoca Cemetery is a recently-formed group within the Avoca & District Historical Society Inc. Guided Tours of the cemetery can be arranged by appointment. Donations to the Avoca Cemetery Restoration Fund of $5 per person will be requested, with a minimum of $20 for a tour of up to one hour’s duration. Ask for a quotation for a more comprehensive tour, or for a group of more than 10 persons. Further information about this, and about the Society’s other activities, may be obtained from (03) 5465 3118, or by email to adhsinc@bigpond.net.au


The Society has produced a six-panel brochure illustrating historical points of interest for a walking tour in and around Avoca. It can be downloaded as a PDF document (almost 1 Mb) by clicking on the image to the left.


Special deal whilst stocks last -

2006 Calendar for $12 including postage within Australia. A rare bargain as a collection of 24 good quality A4 sized historic photos of the district @ fifty cents each!!

Click for order form.

Book based on extensive collection of postcards published by Avoca and District Historical Society.

The book is built from a collection of postcards exchanged between members of the Powers family in Avoca and the Wills family in Lake Bolac, in an era when postcards were the equivalent of today’s email in enabling people to exchange news and gossip. This collection, consisting of some 140 postcards, was recently discovered within the Wills family by Margaret Wills, author of several local history books published in recent years, who has assembled the best of them into a book containing both sides of the postcards. The messages on the reverse side of each card have been transcribed, using a word processor, as they would not have reproduced in a sufficiently legible quality if scanned. Margaret’s transcriptions have faithfully retained the original spelling and punctuation as written by the sender, thereby conveying the authenticity of the language used.

Download order form here.

One of the postcards.

Sample Issue of Newsletter available below

Edition No 283 October 2016

  On-line search capacity

This is a 'free' search capacity whereby you can search globally the text of the 260+ pages linked to this website (including each alphabetical page of the name indexes) as they existed when the search "base" was created each month. The search facility is 'paid for' by the advertisements which appear on your screen when you conduct a search. I have no control over these advertisements so I trust they are all 'above board' (if not, tell me). By the way, if there are any local businesses who might care to sponsor the Avoca site or advertise on it, contact the secretary.

Once you conduct a search you will be presented with a list of webpages in which the selected text/name appears. When you open up a page it might not be clear immediately where your text/name is located e.g the name might appear as a sponsor for the Christening of another person or as a witness in a court case listed under another person's name. Use the "Find in page" facility on the toolbar of your net browser to pinpoint the location. For Netscape the commands are: EDIT - FIND IN PAGE. For Internet Explorer the commands are: EDIT - FIND (ON THIS PAGE).

Search this site!

(Please note that Unclaimed Letters

are no longer available.)

     powered by FreeFind

FreeFind index incorporates the text of 273 separate webpages.

Written requests for research

Although it is possible to search thousands of names at no cost on the Avoca website via the on-line search facility (see the FreeFind facility above) these represent only a fraction of the names indexed by the ADHS. It could be worth your while to join the Society and, if you are able to visit the Court House, carry out your own research at no additional cost except for copying, scanning, printing, etc., if required. If unable to personally visit the Court House, the Society can carry out research for you. The cost is $10 per hour for members, and $20 per hour for non-members, with a minimum charge of one hour, plus any copying, scanning or printing if required.

Enquiries about membership, or research, or any other aspect of the Society's activities, may be directed to adhsinc@bigpond.net.au 

Membership Fees: $20 single; $25 family, living at same address. Corporate $50. Joining Fee $5. Click here to download a membership form. (Pdf)
Donations of $2 and over to either the Court House Restoration Fund, or the Daly's Cottage Restoration Fund, or the Avoca Cemetery Fund, are tax deductible.

Quick jump to main ADHS resource pages:

Links to other ADHS pages

ADHS member Mrs E.C. Graham has kindly allowed the Society to place on this website an electronic version of the more than 2,000 names contained in her publication "Avoca Lists of Unclaimed Letters from 1854 to 1864 Published in the Victorian Government Gazette", plus her compilations of other local lists. These resources are copyright to Mrs Graham and the ADHS.

- Consolidated list of Unclaimed Letters names (2,000 plus names)
- Key to numbers appearing beside each UL name
- Explanation of Unclaimed Letters
- Assembly Roll for the Avoca Electoral Division 1856/57 (several hundred names)
- Deep Lead Mining Company shareholders 1864 (14 names)
- Avoca Goldmining Association shareholders 1864 (115 names)
- Minute book of the Avoca District Butter, Cheese & Freezing Co Limited 1894-1903 (70 names).
- Drownings in the Avoca Cemetery (49 names)

Index to Inquests material held by the ADHS

Index to Pyrenees Pioneers (ADHS Newsletter

ADHS Photo Index

Postal Directory for Avoca 1900 - Business People (included in January 2000 Newsletter)

Research resources held by other agencies

(1) What I have found out about the available resources for Amherst and Talbot (2) A consolidation of talks and items about Talbot (Back Creek) and Amherst (Daisy Hill) appearing in the "Pyrenees Pioneers" newsletter of the ADHS. (3) This is a link to a useful on-line resource by Douglas Wilkie which contains information on the early history of Amherst and Talbot. See particularly Chapter 4.

World War I Honor Roll Bet Bet SS and District. (23 names).

A History of Homebush, compiled by Douglas Wegener.

Links to Members' Webpages containing family and local history information

The Bowen Family History Site

The homepage for Helen Doxford Harris OAM, founder and Honorary Life Member of the ADHS, with links to Harriland Press (which contains information about microfiche indexes of genealogical interest and a surname search facility), Melbourne Cemetery Tours and her Index to Missing People found in Victoria Police Correspondence Records which contains several hundred names.

The Lamplough Name Index

Article: The Gold Rush to Lamplough 1859-1860

The Rowland (Neville Rowland) Family Tree Online

Avoca & District Men and Women Who Served in the Great War - a list prepared by Anne Young (A.C.T.) during her academic research of the subject. Click here.

Other links

Contact for the Ararat Genealogical Society - Marion McAdie (research officer) arabooks@netconnect.com.au

Index to the Argus newspaper 1870-79. Go to this website and enter Avoca in the search facility. Untick the "headings only" choice. You can also search within the results.

The AUS -VIC-GOLDFIELDS e-mail list. To quote the owner, Andrew Billinghurst: "This list covers the history and the genealogy of the people of the geographic area (loosely defined) of the golden triangle of the cities of Ballarat (Central Highlands), Bendigo and Maryborough and their environs." To subscribe, send a message that contains the word 'subscribe' (in the body of the message), to this address: AUS-VIC-GOLDFIELDS-L-request@rootsweb.com There is another e-mail list called AUS-VIC hosted by Rootsweb which might also be of interest. This webpage contains all the information.

This is the webpage for an Australian Mining History Bibliography which was compiled by Mel Davies in 1997 and has been updated to 2008. It is a 4 Mb 334 pps PDF file available here. It has a section covering Victoria which lists some useful sources on goldmining history.

Link to ABC program about the Rosehope and Mahomet families and AVOCA. The references commence at about the 19 minute mark.

Ballarat and District Genealogical Society

Benalla and District Family History Group

Bendigo Regional Genealogical Society Inc.

Buninyong and District Historical Society Inc.

Central Highlands Historical Association - contains a useful Webpage listing of contact details for Northern and Western Victorian genealogical and historical societies.

Here is a link to a 1974 B&W photo by John T Collins showing a cairn marking the location of a pre-1857 cemetery opposite the area where the Lamplough rush took place. The photo is part of the multimedia collection of the State Library of Victoria which can be searched on-line. Type in the word Avoca and you will get 80 hits and while many are of the Avoca (Vic) town and area, others include a Paddle Steamer called "Avoca" and a railway dining car called "Avoca".

Descendants of Convicts Group Inc.

East Gippsland Family History Group Inc.

Greg's genealogy page for Old Avoca contains an interesting miscellany of links to useful resources on his Website, including: 1868 Post Office Directory lists for Avoca, Amphitheatre, Lamplough, Moonambel, NatteYallock, Pyrenees, and Redbank; 1881 Trade Directories for Avoca and Landsborough; Lists of Shareholders in Gold Mining Companies in the 1860s and 1870s for Monte Christo, Avoca, Golden Lake, Pyrenees, Perseverence, Homebush and Avoca Tribute companies; lists of Residents Signing Petitions at Avoca in 1858, at Moonamel in 1861, and at Avoca in 1862; photos of the Avoca Fire Brigade 1888-1890, and photos of Avoca Pioneers and Buildings.

Libraries Australia - this is a link to valuable new search tool by which you can search the catalogues of Australian libraries. This is a link to the Australian Family History and Genealogy website at the National Library of Australia.

Lookups. Dorne Saunders, a member of the Australia-L genealogy discussion list is prepared to do lookups on some of the Victorian CDs she has. They cover these subject areas:

BD&Ms 1836 - 1920
Deaths Index 1921 - 1985
Marriage Index 1921 - 1942
Marine Births & Deaths 1853 - 1920
Inquest Index 1840 - 1985
Immigration Index (Assisted)1852 - 1879
Coburg / Fawkner cemetery (plus other various Cemeteries)
Victorian Federal Referendum 1899
1904 Post Office Directory
*plus various other CDs*

This is a very generous non-commercial offer, please do not abuse it. Dorne may be contacted at: Dornes1@bigpond.com 

Maryborough Midlands Historical Society Inc

National Library of Australia - Australian Newspapers beta search program.

Oldnewscopy is a commercial organisation that has indexed various Victorian newspapers from the 1840s onwards and will provide a copy of the relevant page for $3AUD.

This is a link to an on-line map. Avoca appears in the north-west sector of the map.

Paul Alexander Whitrow's Family History website. His family lived at Avoca during 1858-1906.

This is a link to the reproduced section of the Picturesque Atlas, originally published in 1886, which deals with Avoca and related geographical areas.

Here are entries relevant to "Avoca" in the database of the Register of the National Estate: Avoca Courthouse, Avoca Primary School No 4, and Hedon Farm. There might very well be entries for other sites in the areas covered by the Society. Go to this search site and enter details.

Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

State Library of Victoria - search all catalogues. This link will take you to a list of Avoca-related newspaper holdings.

Stawell Historical Society Inc

Photographs relevant to the Studd family, Amphitheatre.

Tarnagulla (formerly Sandy Creek) A very comprehensive website of an area which was also active as a goldmining site in the 1850s. Miners might have travelled between Avoca and Sandy Creek in search of gold.

Talbot Arts and Historical Museum Inc - Contains an on-line database search of the 1868 Directory.

VictoriaGenWeb project

Victorian Local History Index "The Victorian Local History Index is a database compiled from the index pages of books relating to Victorian History. The idea behind it is that people researching family history in Victoria will be able to check the index for names they are researching, and then consult the relevant book for further information. I have also compiled indexes for books without indexes, or only partial indexes ..." Books likely to be of particular interest to Avoca researchers include: "A Homestead History being the Reminiscences and Letters of Alfred Joyce of Plaistow and Norwood, Port Phillip 1843 to 1864" by Alfred Joyce, edited by G. F. James; "A Valley of the Finest Description - A History of the Shire of Lexton" by Margaret Oulton; "Goldfields Reminiscences - Castlemaine's Golden Era" by "Bonanza" (S. W. Jonnes); Castlemaine: "From Camp To City 1835-1900, A Pictorial History of Forest Creek & the Mount Alexander Goldfields". by Geoff Hocking; "Maryborough, Victoria - Goldfields History" by James Flett; "The Golden Years of Stawell" by Robert Murray & Kate White, and "The Barkly Story 1859-1985" by Eulalie Driscoll. There is also a links page which contains a veritable "goldmine" of on-line searchable data bases.

Western Victorian Association of Historical Societies Inc.

ADHS Website contact -Denis Strangman - string@hotkey.net.au I might not be able to respond to you quickly but you will not be forgotten.

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Site last updated 24 November 2016