Avalon

Avalon is an aeronautical establishment 55 km.south-west of Melbourne between the Princes Freeway and Corio Bay. The nearest town is Lara, 4 km. to the west.

An early owner of large land acreages in the Avalon area was James Austin, the person responsible for successfully acclimatising the European rabbit at another of his family properties, Barwon Park, Winchelsea. Austin returned to England in 1859, where be bought the historic ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. His nephews managed the property at Avalon, and the Avalon homestead (at the end of Avalon Road, east of Limeburners Bay) is recorded as existing in 1870. The name derived from the Isle of Avalon, the site of the abbey, the first Christian church in England and burial place of Arthur of the Round Table.

Austin’s nephews served on the Corio shire council and rebuilt Avalon homestead after it was destroyed by fire in 1880. The property was used by the Geelong District Coursing Club, used for breeding stud sheep and Arab ponies, and later stud cattle. Part of the property was sold for closer settlement farms in 1910, and a primary school operated from 1911 to 1950.

In 1949 much of the Avalon property was sold to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation for a jet test field and assembly plant. In 1960 the homestead and grounds were given to the Brotherhood of St. Laurence as a haven for temporary residents.

In 1951 the Cheetham Salt Works opened a harvesting area west of the airport.

In 1992 Aerospace Technologies of Australian Ltd. (ASTA), wholly owned by the Commonwealth Government, assumed responsibility for Avalon airport(1,750 ha.). It ran the first Australian Airshow and Aerospace Expo at Avalon.

Almost 1,100 persons are employed at Avalon in activities concerned with defence manufacturing and testing, the airport, and maintenance of commercial aircraft. There are plans for use of the airport for the export of fresh food. Avalon is also well located for access to the ports at Melbourne and Geelong.

Avalon Homestead has become a conference centre.

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