Avenel - Culture and History

Tiny historic township which was once an important coach stop for Cobb & Co.

The area was settled in the 1830s and Henry Kent Hughes named his property 'Avenel' after a village in Gloucestershire, England. It was used in the title of a popular novel at the time - 'the Maid of Avenel'.

The township was established in 1849 when the government offered land for sale adjacent a ford over Hughes Creek which had, for some years, been used as a camping place by drovers and teamsters travelling on the Old Sydney Road, established in 1839 as the overland mail route between Melbourne and Sydney.

Avenel grew rapidly as gold prospectors poured north driven by dreams of riches on the goldfields. By 1859 a substantial stone bridge had been built to meet the needs of the increased traffic. Around this time the Royal Mail Hotel was built near the bridge.

Avenel's most famous citizen was Ned Kelly.

Kelly's father took the entire family to live in Avenel in the early 1860s. Ned lived in the town from the age of 8 until his father died when he was only 12. Ned's father is buried in the town cemetery. There is a popular story of how the young Kelly saved a boy from drowning in the local creek. It is said that he was rewarded with a green sash which he wore the day he was shot. Certainly there is evidence that Ned Kelly recorded his father's death at the local Court House.

The railway reached the town in 1872 and, for the next few decades, it enjoyed importance as a location where wheat from the surrounding area was shipped out to Melbourne. By 1880 the town had a flour mill and a grain store.

Today it is typical of town's which have been by-passed. A small town with a few historic remnants.