Tommy Avoca

Tommy Avoca, also named DeardjooWarramin, was a Dja Dja Wurrung man. He was born around 1834 near Mount Franklin. Avoca had children, born around Talbot. He watched colonists move onto his country and then the further disruption of the gold rush in the 1850s.
Some time in the 1860s Avoca moved across to Coranderrk. He continued to return to country from Coranderrk and was known by the colonists in the area. In the years between moving to Coranderrk and the 1881 Coranderrk Inquiry, Avoca’s children died of tuberculosis, according to historian Marguerite Stephens.
Avoca was a witness in the 1881 Coranderrk Inquiry having been a signatory to the petition that led to the inquiry. In his evidence Avoca described the difficulties of living at Coranderrk after the departure of Mr Green, including not being able to have a new wooden hut or have material to build a chicken coup. Avoca, when asked if his food and clothing needs were supplied by the government, showed good understanding of capitalism and contracts. He replied ‘We like money just the same as whitefellow. Suppose you hire to people you ask for an agreement.’
Avoca did work at Coranderrk and was paid to a degree for his labour. In 1872 he was recorded as earning 3 shillings for his work and his evidence at the 1881 inquiry indicated he did feel it was not enough.
In 1886 Avoca was one of the men from Coranderrk who attended former Chief Secretary and Premier Graham Berry with a presentation of an illuminated address, in gratitude for his engagement and work with them.
Tommy died in 1894 in North Melbourne, having fallen down the back steps of the Duke of York hotel, descending them in the dark. He died of head injuries in the Melbourne Hospital. He was described by Joseph Shaw as a ‘steady, well behaved’ man who was around 70 years of age at his death. At the time of his death, Avoca had lived at Coranderrk for around 25 to 30 years.

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