Bairnsdale is the next to last (or second if coming from the east) major centre before leaving Victoria on Hgy 1. Bairnsdale is also the gateway to Lakes Entrance, a booming tourist mecca. Bairnsdale also services a rich rural population plus an increasing tourist business in its own right.
The origin of the city's name is uncertain, however it is believed to have been derived from the name of the property owned by pioneer settler Archibald Macleod, who took up the run on the west bank of the Mitchell River in 1844. Bairnsdale is probably derived from the name of Macleod’s family home on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, which had the name ‘Bernisdale’.
One of the most notable landmarks of Bairnsdale is the St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Main Street known for its distinctively tall tower and murals on its ceiling and walls. These murals were painted by out of work Italian artist Francesco Floreani during the Great Depression and remain a fascination to this day. St Mary’s, thankfully has driven a heritage emphasis within the town.
Also of note are the gardens maintained on the median strip of Main Street. The main garden section runs for over 500 metres (550 yd) through the central commercial district and features beds of flowers, numerous mature deciduous and evergreen trees, war memorials and a restored historic band rotunda.
To get the best out of Bairnsdale, not the least St Mary’s allow a minimum of a day or two.