It was a spontaneous decision to head to Avoca. We had a lovely night staying at the Green Hill Lake Reserve in Ararat, a fascinating day exploring the J Ward Asylum and the historical gold rush town of Ararat. Whilst in Ararat we stopped at the Visitor Information where we heard about Avoca.
Without hesitation we hit the road and traveled the scenic route from Ararat to Avoca. It was approximately 63km, 44min drive. Being spring we drove past many brightly yellow coloured canola fields. As we left Ararat the scenery of the wind farm in the distance of the yellow fields was a lovely sight to see.
Avoca is said to be the heart of the Pyrenees. Being a town in the Central Highlands of Victoria. There are two main towns in the Pyrenees Shire with one being Avoca and the other Beaufort.
Avoca is a beautiful historical rural country Victorian town on the Avoca River. Once a town that was bustling with gold miners. In October 1853 gold was first discovered in Avoca and had approximately 2000 miners. Within a year the number rose to approximately 14,000. Miners would come and go from Avoca being driven by the chase of gold.
Due to the success of the mining a school was opened in 1855, followed by a National school in 1857, the town continued to grow. It wasn’t just the gold that kept Avoca going. The redgum along the Avoca River was used for mines, railway sleepers and of course for firewood and charcoal. With eucalyptus trees also benefiting the rural town.
Today the town is popular for its wineries which are scattered nearby. As you drive along you will see vine yard after vine yard. It’s such a beautiful sight to see with the Pyrenees mountains in the background. If you enjoy a glass of wine this is certainly the place to come and visit the wineries. It’s also a great place for those that love to rummage through collectable and second hand shops. There are many here to check out.
Our experience in Avoca
We arrived in Avoca late in the afternoon. We sourced out a scenic free camping area just a street away from the main street of Avoca!! It was situated along the river. There was camping on both sides of a bridge. With one side having flushing toilets.
As there were plenty of spots available we had a stroll down the main street of Avoca which was starting to shut down for the night. With wineries being advertised it was clear what the main attraction of Avoca is today.
We headed to the Pyrenees driving along dirt roads. With wineries on both sides it was a delightful scenic drive. If only we had more time and were not driving so we could really enjoy the wineries!!
Governor Rock Lookout Tower, Pyrenees State Forest
We continued on the dirt windy roads until we reached the Governor Rock Lookout Tower. The road trip to the lookout was very scenic with beautiful views looking down onto the vine yards below and brightly coloured canola fields.
We were surprised to find a fire pit and picnic table off the side of the road. It was a short uphill stroll to reach the lookout point. The view was worth the drive and stroll.
Pyrenees State Forest
We continued to drive along the dirt windy roads further into the Pyrenees State forest. Surrounded by a very dry forest we decided if we did reach an area suitable for camping that the free camping in Avoca was more favourable. Considering we are in a Toyato Hiace Camper van and not a 4WD if for any reason we were to exit the forest quickly it wouldn’t necessarily be a fast exit in the camper van on the dirt bumpy roads. Whilst a lot of the roads were in good condition as we went further into the forest they were more suitable for 4WD’s.
With darkness soon upon us we decided to exit the windy, bumpy roads and head to the “waterfall”. When we turned off to the Governor Rock Lookout we saw a sign “waterfall”. With the camper van covered in red dust off we headed to the “waterfall”.
Waterfall Camping Ground, Percydale
Whilst we did not find a “waterfall” as such we did discover a gorgeous free camping area, Waterfall Camping Ground which we decided to call home for the night. There were a large group already there, with only a few tents erected that had there music louder than we would’ve liked. Overall it was a pleasant place to spend the night.
With kangaroos keeping their distance, we sat around our camp fire watching a couple fight and jumping across the nearby paddocks full of sheep. It was a very tranquil camping area.
Valley Walk Percydale
Before leaving camp the next morning we went on The Valley Walk where we thought we would find a “waterfall”. It was a short walk through the forest with the track meandering along a dry creek river bed. We reached the “waterfall” where we saw a very slight drizzle over the rocks. Even though we didn’t see a proper waterfall, it was pleasant strolling along the path listening to the birds chirping happily away.
We headed back into town to explore the historical town of Avoca before we headed back to Melbourne to start our working week. The town was a buzz with many coming to find a bargain as the town had a garage sale. 32 in fact!! Apparently country towns have garage sales once a year.
Avoca National School & State School
From here we stopped to look at one of Victorias oldest standing National schools. The school dating back to 1872 when it had 300 students. In 1878 a new school was built across the road, Avoca State School No 4. This is the second school to be designed this way. If only we could have explored inside.
Avoca Train Station
After exploring the Avoca train station it was time to leave this beautiful historical town. Another place for us to return to explore the wineries and what other surprises Avoca has on offer. There is a visitor information centre in Avoca, however it was closed when we visited.
Nearby places to explore
Avoca was part of a weekend road trip for us. Leaving the hustle and bustle of Melbourne behind we spent a night at Ararat, the day exploring Ararat before heading to Avoca then back to Melbourne. If you would like to read up more on our weekend trip and places we explored click on the below links.
- Historical town of Ararat
- Alexandra Gardens Park
- Green Hill Lake Reserve
- J Ward Asylum
- Avoca Chinese Gardens
- Valley Walk, Percydale
- Governors Rock Lookout Tower
Nearby free campgrounds
You can also follow our 3 day itinerary Melbourne – Ararat – Avoca – Melbourne by clicking on the link.
Another great place and what we consider a must go to place to explore is Halls Gap, Grampians. Check out our following link to see how we have spent 3 nights at Halls Gap, Grampians which is approximately 113km, 1hr 22min from Avoca.
We loved our time in Avoca and exploring the Pyrenees forest, whilst our stay was short it was memorable and we totally recommend putting it on your town to explore if you love the great outdoors and historical Victorian towns.
- Approximately 183km, 2hrs from Melbourne CBD
- Approximately 71km, 50mins from Ballarat
- Approximately 63km, 44mins from Ararat
We love getting out and exploring new places, often being spontaneous. Sometimes we have a destination in mind, however detour on the way and never make it to our original destination!! Does this happen to you? Have you got any stories or adventures you would love to share with us?