Avonsleigh, first known as East Emerald, is 46 km south-east of Melbourne. Its name arose from Avonsleigh guest house, close to the Wright stopping place on the Belgrave to Gembrook railway line (now the ‘Puffing Billy’ scenic railway). J.W. Wright was the owner of the guest house.

A school and a Church of Christ were erected at East Emerald in 1878 and 1879 where farms were taken up after gold mining at Emerald had petered out. By the early 1900s there was a population shift to Emerald, and the East Emerald (Avonsleigh) school closed in 1909.

Until World War II Avonsleigh was also occupied for timber production, but further clearance for agricultural land occurred in the postwar years. By the 1980s residential subdivisions along major roads occurred and a township developed. There is a general store and post office.

In 2010 bushfires put the township of Avonsleigh on high alert, but the threatening fire was brought under control.

The census populations of Avonsleigh have been: 

Area Census date Population
Avonsleigh 1933 98
  1954 196
  1966 215
  2006 325
Avonsleigh and environs 2011 735

Further Reading

Helen Coulson, Story of the Dandenongs, 1838-1958, F.W. Cheshire, 1968