15 things to do in Bairnsdale (Australia)

Heading east on the Princes Highway, the city of Bairnsdale heralds the expanse of Gippsland Lakes.

In a few minutes you can reach places like Raymond Island, where koalas are lounging in trees and you can see endangered dolphins frolicking in the water.

But the city itself is worth as much time as you can spend admiring the exquisite gardens on Main Street, the stately St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and the tranquility and greenery of the Mitchell River.

Bairnsdale is surrounded by beautiful countryside with meandering rivers.

You can walk or bike along the converted railway line, or retreat to the winery to sip a Pinot Noir on the rambling vine-covered hills.

1. St. Mary’s Catholic Church

St Mary's Catholic Church, Bairnsdale

Key to Bairnsdale on Main Street, this Romanesque Revival church was built in 1913, replacing an earlier building in 1883. Made of brick and stone, St. Mary’s Church has a stately tower with the image of Mary inscribed in the stone niche.

Inside you can admire exquisite frescoes, painted on the barrel vault of the nave and apse, depicting the Trinity, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and various saints.

These were painted to a very high standard by the Italian painter Francesco Floreani when he was unemployed during the Great Depression.

Also take time to admire the rose window above the entrance and the stained glass behind the apse altar.

2. Main Street Garden

Street Garden

One of Bairnsdale’s loveliest features is this well-kept greenery in the middle of the Princes Highway. This runs through almost the entire city, stretching about four kilometers from west to east.

The main road through Bairnsdale CBD is 500 metres long and is planted with mature deciduous and evergreen trees, annual and perennial plant beds, and monuments commemorating the area’s centenary and the Boer War.

A structure not to be missed is the 30-meter water tower, which was completed in 1927 and has been out of use since the 1980s.

The most central strip, fronted by two rows of restaurants and shops, houses the historic rotunda where the band first formed in 1910.

3. Mitchell River Walk

Mitchell River Walk

Bairnsdale may be on the Mitchell River, but because of the flooding, the channel bypasses it rather than through the city.

There was a cemetery here in the 19th century, but a flood in 1870 overwhelmed the tomb and even washed away coffins downstream.

This saves banks from building and sometimes you forget that there is a city.

The Mitchell River Walk is a 5.4-kilometer walk along both banks, using the old rail bridge at the east end (now on the East Gippsland Rail Trail), and the new connection at Riverine Street at the west.

Take a break, there will be lots of grass shaded by trees and you can check out some information boards about the history of the river.

4. East Gippsland Rail Trail

East Gippsland Rail Trail

Open to cyclists and hikers, the 96km trail starts near Bairnsdale train station and continues east to Oberst, crossing rivers that flow into Lake Gippsland.

You will be on the tracks of the former Orbost railway line, completed in 1916 for the timber and agricultural industries.

The line was decommissioned in 1987, and while much of its infrastructure is long gone, some lovely old trestle bridges and causeways remain.

Some have been integrated into the trails, like the spectacular bridge over the Nicholson River, while others have been preserved alongside sealed trails.

The route is divided into four main stages, with distance signs and covered shelters along the way.

5. East Gippsland Art Gallery

art gallery

The main stage for the visual arts in the region is set in the beautiful Bairnsdale County Council Chamber, which dates back to 1868. The gallery was established in 1993 through an exciting exhibition programme as well as seminars, lectures, openings and other events.

There are performances by regional and national artists in a variety of media, as well as landmark traveling exhibitions.

In short, there is always something interesting to see.

The gallery shop sells the work of local artists and craftsmen as unique souvenirs or gifts.

6. Krowathunkooloong Feedlot

To find out more about Gunaikurnai, the traditional owner of Gippsland, go to Keeping Place.

Opened in 1994, this museum/cultural center aims to tell the story of the ancient Naikunai people and their various tribes, and to help people better understand the wider Aboriginal culture and craftsmanship.

Traditional weapons for hunting and fighting, boomerangs, baskets and bark canoes, and Gunaikurnai artwork are displayed here.

Staff will provide additional background information, and you can take a guided tour of the center to learn more.

Art exhibits by local Koorie artists are available for purchase.

7. Howitt Park


As one of the few public recreation areas in Bairnsdale, Howitt Park has a beautiful location just across the Mitchell River in the CBD.

The East Gippsland Rail Trail runs through, while the local bowling and boating club is located in the park.

For families looking for a place to relax for a few hours, Howitt Park features BBQ facilities, a gazebo, a children’s playground, a fishing platform and a boat ramp.

Every fourth Sunday of the month, there’s a farmers’ market with top-notch local produce, as well as delicious hot food and crafts, all accompanied by live music.

8. Lightfoot & Sons Wines

Lightfoot & Sons Winery

Bairnsdale is in Gippsland’s most easterly wine-growing region, with vines covering the low rolling hills that lie between the base of the Great Dividing Range and Bass Strait.

The local family-run Lightfoot & Sons winery dates back to 1995 and is now in its second generation.

All wines produced by Lightfoot & Sons are estate grown and brewed using a combination of traditional and modern techniques.

The estate’s Myrtle Point vineyard vines grow in fertile Terra-Rossa soils atop limestone cliffs on the edge of the Mitchell River.

It’s the perfect setting for Chardonnay, Shiraz and Pinot Noir, and get ready to sample local dishes on deck with views of the estate and the Lindenor Valley.

9. East Gippsland Allround Playground


At the east end of Main Street, below the shade sail network, is a large playground designed to be inclusive for all children.

It’s fully fenced, fully accessible and organized into areas, with a teen skate park next door.

Drawing on Gippsland’s landscape and history, the theme of the playground is “From Mountain to Sea,” and parents may notice the shipwreck coast and historic timber industry.

One of several pieces of equipment for children with special needs is a free swing, designed for wheelchair users.

There is also an accessible toilet on-site, as well as four BBQs and tables around.

10. Gippsland Lakes

gippsland lake

Bairnsdale is the largest settlement, surrounded by a 400-square-kilometer chain of interconnected lakes, marshes and lagoons, all separated from Bass Strait by the dunes of Ninety Mile Beach.

The lakes are fed by several rivers that flow through East Gippsland, including the Mitchell River in Bairnsdale, and are home to large numbers of endangered Brunan dolphins.

These can be seen up close on an eco cruise, and there are plenty of other activities to do, from boating to fishing, paddle sports, camping, hiking and visiting Raymond Island (more below). And don’t forget the endless golden sands of Ninety Mile Beach, the fourth longest beach in the world, perfect for picnicking, hiking, wildlife viewing and surf fishing.

11. Raymond Island

raymond i.

A not-to-be-missed day trip, Raymond Island offers a comfortable drive to Paynesville, followed by a short ferry ride across McMillan Strait.

It’s best to park in Paynesville as pedestrians and cyclists get around for free.

The island’s population is just over 500 people who share the land with abundant wildlife.

From the ferry, a 1.2km signposted path will take you under a gum tree, where you can look up to see koalas snoozing comfortably on the branches.

Later in the day, you might see them shuffling lazily down the road to change trees.

There are also plenty of kangaroos, echidnas and plenty of birds on the island, and you can scan the McMillan Strait for dolphins.

12. Adventure Park

mini golf

Just minutes from the city on the Princes Highway is one of those attractions that combine a variety of outdoor activities in one place.

In fact, Adventure Fun Park offers more than 20 programs, including laser tag, archery, virtual reality games, go-karts and mini golf.

You can also practice your technique at the batting cage and golf driving range, while for smaller family members there are carousels and jumping castles.

The park also features an outdoor swimming pool, a shop selling hot and cold snacks, and an extensive BBQ area.

13. Bairnsdale Visitor Information Centre

Visitor Information

If you’re new to East Gippsland and need some help planning your next steps, the Visitor Information Centre in Bairnsdale will be of great help.

Not only does it offer free accommodation bookings and free Wi-Fi, it also has a sales area that sells a variety of souvenirs and produce from the area.

It’s also a handy resource for things like buying fishing licenses, and you can get one-on-one advice on what to do, sights and things to do in the small area of ​​Bairnsdale.

14. Nicholson River Winery

Nicholson River Winery

The oldest vineyards between Melbourne and Sydney date back to 1978, and Bairnsdale is just a short drive away.

Nicholson River Winery is adjacent to the bend of the river of the same name, with green rolling hills and most of Mount Taylor in the background.

The winery produces award-winning European-style wines in small batches.

These varieties include the acclaimed Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as Sangiovese, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blends.

You can visit the cellar to taste these wines paired with local cheeses and appetizers, and chat with the producers.

The picnic area has beautiful views of the Nicholson River and there is a sandpit for the little ones to play in.

The Barrel Room restaurant is also open for lunch during summer.

15. Bairnsdale Raceway

race track

From November to April, high-speed events take place on a purpose-built track north of the city.

Keep up to date with the Bairnsdale Speedway Association’s calendar as you can catch about seven races here each season.

The bill for these sessions will include a combination of VSC Sprintcars, Super Sedans, Wingless Sprints, Divi 2 Hot Rods, V8 Dirt Mods, Standard Saloons and Limited Sportsman.

The track has been updated over the years to provide the highest safety standards for spectators, as well as canteens and toilets.

The biggest date on the calendar is always Boxing Day, drawing a huge crowd in a festive atmosphere.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Bairnsdale, Australia
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