Avoca is a town in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia, 71 kilometres northwest of Ballarat. It is one of two main towns in the Pyrenees Shire, the other being Beaufort to the south. At the 2001 census, Avoca had a population of 956.
The town stands in the gently undulating basin of the Avoca River, which rises in the Pyrenees Ranges to the west. To the south, the region is bounded by low hills of the Great Dividing Range; eastwards, the basin ends in a dry forested rise; to the north the Avoca River runs slowly through the plains of the Wimmera before petering out in swamps near the Murray.
The region takes in an area of about 200 square kilometres, and includes the villages of Redbank, Natte Yallock, Rathscar, Bung Bong, Lamplough, Amphitheatre, Percydale, Moonambel, and Warrenmang. A few miles to the northeast, bare paddocks mark the site of Homebush, once a flourishing mining village.
Like Ballaarat 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, forty kilometres 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.