Where to retire after spending 32 years in a Gippsland town (population around 13,000)? If you are David and Helen Porra, the answer is Avoca in the Pyreness region of Victoria. Avoca is located around 200 kilometres north-west of Melbourne and was established as a sheep and cattle grazing area and later became the commercial centre of the region, due to the 1850’s gold rush. These days people are attracted to the lifestyle, and tourists love visiting the many wineries in the area. Driving around Avoca, you notice that it is clean and well presented. It’s also a laid back town . 
We asked David a few questions about life in Avoca.

Where have you lived in Victoria?
I was born in Coleraine Vic; raised in Balmoral Vic; educated in Balmoral, Hamilton & Douglas Park (NSW), then started work in Horsham, Casterton, Elsternwick, Willaura, Avoca, Mildura, Terang and Sale (all in Vic).

What was your occupation?
The reason for all these different places was because I was in the CBC Bank for 22 years until I resigned and entered the Insurance business for next 14 years (I could write a book about this experience I can tell you) and finally as Sec/Manager of the Sale Men’s Club for 10 years from which I acquired my current body shape.

Where were you living before moving to Avoca? 
We were in Sale for 32 years before returning to Avoca having been away for 41 years. The locals thought that was pretty good to come back after all that time and so did we.

Why did you choose to move to Avoca?
We came back because all our family came from the Western District and Sale was a 7 hour trip to see our ageing parents and other family, and because we still knew a lot of people in Avoca with whom we kept in close touch over the years. So we felt that Avoca was close enough to our rellies without being too bloody close. Turned out our parents died before we got back here but the rest of the family are fairly close so that’s good.

What are some of the benefits of living in Avoca?
Avoca is full of advantages and benefits; the main one for us that it’s central to anywhere we need or want to go to. E.g. 2 hours to Melb. (our kids live there) 2 hours to Warrnambool (my brother & his wife and kids live there), 1 hour to Stawell (my wife’s sister lives there) and 1 hour to Bendigo, 45 minutes to Ballarat, Ararat and you name it it’s not that far away. Apart from that, Avoca has an Ambulance service and 2 resident officers, a nursing home and doctors visit 2 – 3 days per week and Maryborough has a good hospital only 20 minutes away. It also has all the sporting facilities including bowls & golf, football (Aussie rules and not that stuff you blokes play) and netball and when the river flows, mostly after it rains because it doesn’t do that too often, fishing and we get the best yabbies in Victoria, just don’t tell them that in Mildura. If you like wine we have 26 fantastic wineries in a 20 mile radius of the town and you can have a great day out as long as you bring a driver with you. And I nearly forgot, we have 3 race meetings per year and in half an hour I have to go to the Anzac Day races to cook a BBQ for the committee. These meetings attract big crowds from all the places I’ve just mentioned above. See we are close to everyone.

Any challenges of living in the area? 
I think the only challenges of living here comes from within one’s self. It’s like living anywhere, only you can make it what you want. Just get out there and do it.

What are some of the special things to do in the area?
Apart from the above, we have the beautiful Pyrenees ranges which offer bush walks, trail bike rides, car rallies through the hills, Farmers markets monthly, a look-out area and we often take visitors over to Maryborough to see the magnificent railway station over there which was supposed to have been built in Maryborough Qld and not Vic. Bad luck for Qld I’d say.

We also have a Hay-mill co-operative which employs several people and operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week as they export hay to Japan & China. Local farmers sell some of their hay through the facility.

Plus…….We do a lot of volunteer work like Helen helps out in the Information centre a couple of times a month or whenever asked,
I drive the Community car to take old people to doctor’s appointments etc, we are also involved in local church activities, I’m Secretary of Avoca Men”s Shed
which keeps me busy 3 days per week if I can spare that much time and after a while people come to you for assistance with something or other. So as I say,
if you want to enjoy you need to get involved no matter where you live. Everybody has a talent or two that we can still put to use.
You seem to get a lot more out of doing something for someone than you put in I reckon.

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