Bairnsdale, East Gippsland’s only city and western gateway to the Lakes and Wilderness Region, boasts many fine old buildings. The most notable of these are the courthouse, an extravaganza of towers, arches and gables, and St Mary’s Cathedral, whose signature is the exuberant murals painted as a thank-you to the town and its people by an itinerant Italian labourer, Francesco Floreani, who had studied in Turin.
To absorb the ancient culture and natural beauty of the region visit the local Aboriginal centre, Krowathunkoolong Keeping Place, and conservation areas such as the Mitchell National Park, McLeod’s Morass wildlife reserve or the spectacular Silt Jetties. This area is at its best in spring when the wattles bloom.
Romance has it that the name Bairnsdale was bestowed upon the town shortly after the arrival of pioneer Scottish settler, Archie McLeod, on account of the large number of children, or bairns, conceived in the fledgling settlement. The more prosaic explanation is that the name is a corruption of Bernisdale, which McLeod chose to call his property after his ancestral home on the Isle of Skye.