In 1825 Colonial Government Surveyor John Helder Wedge surveyed the area and called it St Pauls Plains. But it wasn’t until the early 1830s, when a Police Barracks was built, that a township developed and took on the Irish name of Avoca. In colonial times convict probation stations were established at Avoca, Fingal, St Marys and Falmouth.
Early records show that James Gilligan was the first settler to the area in around 1820. He took up residence on his 1600 acre land grant a few miles east of the present township, and named his property Clifton Lodge. It was here in 1843, whilst District Constable William Ward was a dinner guest of the Gilligan’s, bushrangers Riley Jeffs and John Conway raided the homestead. In the scuffle that followed Constable Ward was shot dead by one of the “misguided” men, and it is said the policeman’s ghost still lingers amongst the old ruins today.
In the 1960s and early 1970s Avoca gained national fame for what was headlined across the country as the “The Avoca Shoot”. This referred to the Avoca Wallaby Shoot, an annual event organized by the Avoca Football Club to raise funds for the club and at the same time cull the wallabies which were in plague proportion on properties in the Avoca area. Hundreds of shooters would converge on Avoca each year where they would pay an entry fee to the footy club, head into the hills and if we believed the headlines in many Mainland papers “mass slaughter would take place”.