Rich Avon

Rich Avon is a reminder of the first settlers in the district, who came as Major Mitchell had foretold in 1836:

“As I stood, the first European intruder on the sublime solitude of these verdant plains, I felt conscious…that our steps would soon be followed by the men and the animals for which it seemed to have been prepared”.

The first pastoral lease in the area known as Rich Avon was granted to James Horsfall in February 1845, and described it as

“122,699 acres…bounded on the north partly by the boundary line of Messrs William Donald & Company and partly by that of McReadys.”

It then ran 2,400 head of cattle and 15,000 sheep. The lease passed to Robert Sutherland in February 1848, and to Archibald and Ronald McLachlan in March 1853, until in 1858 it was divided into Rich Avon East and Rich Avon West, with McLachlan brothers holding the East and Robert Moffatt the West. Moffatt sold his lease to Thomas King Scott.

After the Land Acts of the 1860s allowed the purchase of land, Thomas Guthrie  entered the scene when the sale was reported of J. and R. McLachlan’s Rich Avon East station in 1864 to Synnot and Guthrie.

It was advertised as having “a frontage of about 12 miles to the Richardson River and assessed by Government at an area of 40,000 acres”  In his memoirs, Thomas Guthrie said that 30/6 an acre was “a very high price, but it was an excellent piece of country, and well worth it.”

Although the area is much reduced by consequent selection, this estate is still held in the Guthrie name, by Oliver and Pam Guthrie and their son Chris.

After the war of 1914-18, the State and Federal governments finally agreed in 1920 that land would be acquired for the repatriation of soldiers, and this land included 4,803 acres which had belonged to Thomas Guthrie’s three sisters, Mary, Ethel and Ella, who wished to help the returning soldiers and offered their land to the Closer Settlement Board.

The children of these soldiers and other selectors formed a close-knit community of young people, with a hall, tennis courts and cricket  club, and although those days have passed, the few who remember them still have a strong loyalty to Rich Avon.