Travelling Australia - Journal 2014
13-18 March 2014

Bairnsdale visit
We stayed in Bairnsdale for seven nights. Weather was mostly moderate, occasionally a cold front would sweep across Victoria and the morning temperature would be down to 11° or 12°C but that was unusual and mornings were usually not that cold; daytime temperatures were usually mid to high twenties. We had one rainy night during which 19 millimetres was recorded in our rain gauge; it sounded as if most of it fell in about half an hour.

Bairnsdale is a regional centre with population of the central township listed as 7,230 in the 2011 census, and 11,820 in the total urban area. It is the commercial centre for East Gippsland. Bairnsdale is on the Mitchell River just before it enters the Gippsland Lakes; the Mitchell River frequently floods to a minor level and once every ten years reaches major flood levels. Despite this apparent regular flooding there are no obvious signs of flood preparation such as levees.

With its large population and position as regional centre, Bairnsdale hosts a variety of shops and businesses in a shopping area stretching over three or four blocks with a long string of light industrial business (motor vehicles, hardware, caravan repair, engineering, etc) along the highway on the western side of town.

The Princes Highway runs through the middle of Bairnsdale in a reasonably harmonious combination of highway and main road. The highway is a dual carriage-way with central plantation covered in lawn and flower beds. Through traffic no doubt does not like the series of traffic lights to be negotiated through the shopping area but passing through the town is straight-forward.

Bairnsdale is very much a rural centre in a cattle-grazing area and has extensive saleyards on the edge of the built-up area. Another substantial commercial activity is Patties factory just outside the town where several well-known pie brands (Nannas, Herbert Adams, Four-and-Twenty) are made.

Bairnsdale is well placed as a gateway to the Gippsland Lakes which, judging by the number of pleasure craft we saw in mooring along rivers and in seaside towns, is a very popular venue for boating and, presumably, fishing. Gippsland Lakes settlements have historically been associated with boats and the region was initially connected to Melbourne by shipping via Lakes Entrance when unsettled Gippsland was still a nearly impassable obstacle to travel. In those days fishing fleets operated in the lakes from villages which are now primarily holiday destinations.

During our time in Bairnsdale we visited to nearby Paynesville, Metung and Lakes Entrance to see what was there. Each village has a long history of maritime connections but have developed differently.

Paynesville (a short drive from Bairnsdale) claims to be the boating capital of Victoria, a claim which may be correct judging by the number of boats we saw along numerous wharves and jetties in and around the town. The town had a census population of 3,200 in 2011 but that figure will have increased if the number of new housing developments we passed is any indication. There appeared to be a high proportion of permanent residents in a town with a strong tourist element in businesses along the main street.

Metung appears to be entirely a tourist, holiday and boating village. It has a long history of maritime activity but is now primarily a holiday centre

Lakes Entrance is the home for commercial fishing boats which reach the ocean through the Entrance near the port. Lakes Entrance is also a popular holiday destination with the well-known footbridge across the inlet to reach the ocean beach.

Bairnsdale - page 2
bairnsdale shops
Shops and businesses along the Princes Highway as it passes through Bairnsdale.  
bairnsdale shops
Shopping area near the Princes Highway.  
Rotunda in the middle of the plantation.  
Bairnsdale Region- page 3
mitchell river
The Mitchell River nearing the Lakes at Eagle Point.  
paynesville boats
A small fraction of the numerous pleasure craft at Paynesville.  
metung holiday units
Residential units at Metung.  
Bairnsdale Region- page 4
lakes entrance footbridge
Footbridge at Lakes Entrance crosses the inlet and provides access to the surf beach.  
lakes entrance fishing boats
Lakes Entrance is home for commercial fishing boats.  
the ocean entrance to the lakes
The opening between the ocean and the Gippsland Lakes is kept open for shipping by dredging; a dredge is on the right.