St Marys Church, Tourism Victoria

Population 11284

An attractive rural centre situated on the Mitchell River Flats and considered to be the western gateway to the lakes and wilderness region of East Gippsland. The area has a rich Koorie history brought to life through local landmarks, especially in Mitchell River National Park, where a fascinating piece of Aboriginal folklore is based around the Den of Nargun.

Visitor Information

240 Main St; (03) 5152 3444 or 1800 637 060

Nearby national parks

  • The Lakes National Park

    The Lakes National Park in Gippsland is a birdwatcher’s paradise, a tranquil retreat edged by the blue waters of Victoria and Reeve...more

  • Mitchell River National Park

    Stunning river scenery, thickets of temperate rainforest, idyllic fern gullies and tracts of rugged countryside are the background to a wide...more

  • Croajingolong National Park

    Croajingolong National Park sweeps along the far south-east corner of Victoria for 100 kilometres. This is one of the state’s largest...more

Nearby towns

  • Paynesville

    Paynesville is a popular tourist resort close to the rural city of Bairnsdale, on the McMillan Straits. The town is set on the Gippsland...more

  • Lakes Entrance

    Lakes Entrance is a lovely holiday town situated at the eastern end of the Gippsland Lakes, an inland network of waterways covering more...more

  • Sale vic

    Situated by the Thomson River near the Latrobe River junction, Sale grew on the back of the gold rush and became Gippsland's first city in...more

In Town

Aboriginal culture The Krowathunkoolong Keeping Place, on Dalmahoy St, details the cultural history of the region's Kurnai Aboriginal people and provides an insight into the impact of white settlement. To explore local Aboriginal history further, visit Howitt Park, Princes Hwy – a tree here has a 4 m scar where bark has been removed to make a canoe. The Bataluk Cultural Trail from Sale to Cann River takes in these and other Indigenous sites of East Gippsland. Details of the trail from Krowathunkoolong.

Historical Museum: built in 1891, contains relics from Bairnsdale's past; Macarthur St.

Jolly Jumbuck Country Craft Centre: wool spinning and knitting mills, plus woollen products for sale; edge of town.

Self-guide heritage walks: take in St Mary's Church, with wall and ceiling murals by Italian artist Francesco Floreani, and the Court House, a magnificent, castle-like construction; details from visitor centre.


Mitchell River National Park Set in the remnants of temperate rainforest, this park has its own piece of mythology. According to Koorie history, Nargun was a beast made all of stone except for his hands, arms and breast. The fierce creature would drag the unwary to his den, a shallow cave beneath a waterfall on the Woolshed Creek. This Den of Nargun can be found in the park, as can giant kanooka trees, wildflowers and over 150 species of birds. There is a circuit walk to Bluff Lookout and Mitchell River, and Billy Goat Bend is good for picnics. Contact Parks Victoria on 13 1963; Princes Hwy; 15 km W near Lindenow.

McLeods Morass Wildlife Reserve: a boardwalk extends over the freshwater marshland, allowing a close-up view of the many species of waterbirds found here; southern outskirts of town, access via Macarthur St; 2 km S.

Wineries: include Nicholson River Winery, for tastings and sales; 10 km E.

Bruthen: hosts a Blues Bash each Feb; 24 km NW.

Dargo: historic township in Dargo River valley and major producer of walnuts. Dargo Valley Winery has accommodation and cellar-door sales. The road beyond Dargo offers a scenic drive through high plains to Hotham Heights, stunning in spring when wattles bloom (unsealed road, check conditions); 93 km NW.

Fishing spots near town

Mitchell River 9 km

The estuary section of the Mitchell River begins at the rock barrier, about 5 km upstream from Bairnsdale. Bream are caught all the way through to where the silt jetties enter Lake King. The jetties look like two long... Find out more

Nicholson River 11 km

The Nicholson is the shortest of the three waterways in the Bairnsdale area and is more affected by thawing snow than rainfall. The stretch near the railway bridge can be productive. A scenic waterway, it has limited... Find out more

Lake Victoria 19 km

This lake joins Lake King at the popular boating and fishing town Paynesville, opposite Raymond Island. The piers on both sides of McMillan Strait here are popular with anglers, especially lure fishers who have found the... Find out more

Tambo River 20 km

The Tambo River is renowned for the quality of its bream fishing. From the mouth of the river at Lake King upstream past Johnsonville and Swan Reach, anglers can access long stretches of sheltered water above and below... Find out more

Metung 21 km

Metung, on the western shore of Bancroft Bay, is a major centre for the cruise-boat industry. Whether you own one or want to hire a live- aboard boat for a few days, Metung is a prime spot. Surprisingly, for a town so... Find out more

Lakes Entrance 30 km

Lakes Entrance is an ideal base for anglers wanting to fish the region. Facilities are excellent and it is within easy reach of places like the Tambo River and Lake Tyers. The township is situated along Cunninghame Arm. ... Find out more

Lake Tyers 43 km

Lake Tyers is a few minutes’ drive north-east of Lake Entrance on the Princes Highway. It is one of the most picturesque of the Gippsland Lakes, being surrounded by forest. Covering an area of about 16 sq km, Lake... Find out more

Ninety Mile Beach 65 km

In autumn, large schools of salmon, along with gummy sharks and mulloway, hit Victoria’s beaches. Snapper can still be caught, along with increasing numbers of yelloweye mullet. One of the most popular beaches in... Find out more

Marlo 80 km

In the annals of Australian folklore, the Snowy River is one of the icons. Anglers know that most of the action is in the lower reaches downstream from Orbost to Marlo where the river flows to the sea. Marlo is reached... Find out more

Omeo Valley 93 km

The Upper Mitta Mitta River at Angler’s Rest appears to go the ‘wrong’ way, as it travels south to reach Dartmouth reservoir, far to the north. It flows out of the Bogong High Plains and down the Omeo... Find out more

Eco-friendly activities around town

Mitchell River National Park 29 km

Although only 11 900 hectares in size, this rugged national park contains some of the best forest country in Gippsland. Great for experienced rafters, kayakers and canoeists, it also has some superb bushwalks. With a... Find out more

Cruises - around Lakes Entrance 34 km

More than just a cruise, a one- or two-hour Sea- Safari out of Lakes Entrance is an opportunity to add to research about the area. You will help document seabirds, marine life – including seahorses with an... Find out more

Bushwalking Alpine National Park 79 km

Covering a vast 6460 square kilometres, this is Victoria’s largest national park and cradles the state’s highest mountains and dramatic alpine scenery, as well as the major downhill skiing resorts. The park... Find out more

Rafting - Mitta Mitta and Murray Rivers 93 km

Adventure Rafting Victoria only takes a few months off, from April to June, and runs exciting day trips down the foaming Murray Gates, and two-night paddles down the Mitta Mitta, staying overnight in the legendary Blue... Find out more

Cafes & restaurants around town

Paper Chase

This classy 100-seat cafe within the bustling Collins bookshop is named after the second part of local author Hal Porter’s autobiography. Parisian-style green and white chairs and tables give way to the main cafe... Find out more

Campsites around town

Emu Bight camping area 19 km

On Sperm Whale Head, Emu Bight is the only place to camp in the Lakes park. It’s 5 km east of Loch Sport, beside Lake Victoria and accessed from Lake Victoria Track; campsites must be booked in advance through... Find out more

Bunga Arm (boat-based camping) 24 km

Bunga Arm, in the road-free western part of Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, is a spit of sand that has built up between the ocean and Lake Victoria. There are 7 designated camping areas, each with a dozen campsites and... Find out more

Woolshed Creek camping area (walk-in camping) 26 km

Woolshed Creek is a walk-in campsite close to the southern end of the Mitchell River Walking Track. It’s only a short hike from here to the deep gully that hides the Den of Nargun, a cave where a fierce ancient... Find out more

Red Bluff camping area 27 km

Red Bluff is just north of Beacon Swamp at the edge of Lake Victoria. Besides going swimming or paddling out in a canoe, you can go driving or horseriding along the tracks that run riot between here and Lake Reeve... Find out more

Billy Goat Bend camping area 28 km

Billy Goat Bend has a spectacular curving cliff as a backdrop, and the small rapids here are a great place to test the durability of your air mattress. If you’re planning on canoeing to this spot, note that the... Find out more

Colquhoun camping area (bush camping) 28 km

While enjoying the dispersed bush camping available around the forest, campers can familiarise themselves with forest bats, tree goannas, lyrebirds and koalas. The Forest Discovery Drive takes you past such historical... Find out more

Thalia Point camping areas 29 km

You can plant yourself in the bushland alongside Lake Victoria at Thalia Point, between the Spoon Bay and Thalia tracks. The catch is that you can only do so during the designated hunting seasons for duck, quail and... Find out more

Spoon Bay camping area 31 km

Spoon Bay, off Lakeside Track, is on the gently curving western foreshore of Lake Victoria. The water is quite calm here, which makes it a good place to launch a canoe. You’ll probably spot ringtail possums and... Find out more

Angusvale camping area 34 km

Angusvale is scenically sited at the northern edge of the national park, beside the Mitchell River some 16 km east along the Mitchell Dam Rd from the junction with the Bairnsdale–Dargo Rd. From here you can follow... Find out more

Rock Creek Track camping area 34 km

There are only 2 campsites at Rock Creek Track, so have a backup plan in case they’re taken when you arrive. From Mitchell Dam Rd, head east on Mitchell Rd and then north-east on Angusvale Track to get here. You... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

Mitchell Gardens Holiday Park 2 km

This park is at the river end of the main street (Princes Highway), just 500 metres from the centre of town. With beautifully maintained surrounds, the park is located on the banks of the Mitchell River. Bookings are... Find out more

Bairnsdale Holiday Park 4 km

There are many caravan parks in Bairnsdale but this is one of the few with a large number of tourist sites. Located on the Princes Highway, it is well suited to a family holiday or just a couple of nights. Bookings are... Find out more

Lake King Waterfront Caravan Park 11 km

With absolute lake frontage, this neat park has its own jetties and boat ramp and there are waterfront van sites available. This is good value. Bookings are required in peak periods and a minimum-length stay applies to... Find out more

90 Mile Beach Holiday Retreat 34 km

This camping park on a private farming property is just a stroll away, over the sand dunes, from the fabulous Ninety Mile Beach. The owner-operated park is reached via some 5 km of unsealed access road but the journey is... Find out more

Waters Edge Holiday Park 35 km

This good quality park is suitable for a few days in Lakes Entrance. It is on the Princes Highway, across the road from the water, and not too far from the centre of town. Bookings are required in peak periods and a... Find out more

Koonwarra Beach Resort 35 km

Easily accessible on the Princes Highway, at the eastern end of Lakes Entrance, this park is just a short distance from the town centre. It is ideal for a short stay or a family holiday in this popular destination.... Find out more

Eastern Beach Tourist Park 36 km

Just off the Princes Highway and easily accessible, this is a large spacious park where you can walk to town along the waters edge, Great for a family holiday. We like it. Bookings are required in peak periods and a... Find out more

Lakes Entrance Tourist Park 36 km

This owner-operated park is on the eastern edge of town and very convenient for a stopover. It has good facilities and caters for most needs. We stay here. Bookings are required in peak periods and a minimum-length stay... Find out more

Lake Tyers Camp and Caravan Park 42 km

This beachfront park is owned and operated by the Uniting Church. It is a great family park, ideal for a beachside holiday. The park operates in conjunction with a school camp and the consumption of alcohol is permitted... Find out more

Stratford On The River Tourist Park 50 km

This is a good quality park with a range of accommodation, just a short 600-metre walk from the centre of the small town. There are good facilities and it is ideally located for overnight stops or longer stays. Bookings... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Comfort Inn Riversleigh

Centrally located off the highway in the heart of town, this National Trust–listed property comprising two 1886 Victorian terrace houses was restored to its original splendour in 1987. With its elegance and... Find out more

Tara House

This elegant 1880s Victorian country home has been beautifully restored and offers gracious accommodation in three ensuite rooms amid beautiful gardens. With log fires in winter and shady verandahs in summer, guests are... Find out more

Waterholes Guest House

The pristine wilderness lures guests to this remote rural accommodation with no TV, no mobile phone service and no daily papers. The only sounds are those of whipbirds, kookaburras and the occasional generator kicking in... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Nicholson park area 11 km

At Nicholson

Overlooking the river on the east side of town.

Log Crossing rest area 29 km

T/O 26km E of Bairnsdale (L) or 9km W of Lakes Entrance (R)

Secluded in the forest 2.5km (unsealed) north of the highway. 

Providence Ponds rest area 32 km

17km E of Stratford (R) or 35km W of Bairnsdale (L)

Just off the highway among a few trees.

Lakes Entrance park area 33 km

At Lakes Entrance

Overlooking the river near the information centre.

Burnt Bridge rest area 37 km

10km NE of Lakes Entrance (R) or 49km SW of Orbost (L)

Secluded in the forest just off the highway.

Tambo River rest area 50 km

49km S of Omeo (L) or 72km N of Bairnsdale (R)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

Doctors Flat rest area 59 km

33km S of Omeo (L) or 88km N of Bairnsdale (R)

Just off the highway among a few trees.

Newmerella park area 72 km

At Newmerella

Adjacent to the highway in the middle of town.

Lookout rest area 78 km

102km SE of Bright (L) or 7km NW of Omeo (R)

Just off the road at the lookout.

Oriental Claims park area 79 km

107km SE of Bright (L) or 2km NW of Omeo (R)

At a historical site beside a creek 500m off the highway.

Willows rest area 80 km

1km NE of Rosedale (L) or 25km SW of Sale (R)

Large grassed area just off the highway.

Victoria Falls camping area 83 km

89km SE of Bright (L) or 20km NW of Omeo (R)

Secluded area 600m off the road.

Blind Joe Creek park area 83 km

21km E of Traralgon (R) or 2km W of Rosedale (L)

Just off the highway near the caravan park.

Murrungower rest area 90 km

16km E of Orbost (L) or 59km W of Cann River (R)

Secluded forest setting just off the highway. 

What's on around town

Howitt Park Market: 4th Sun each month.

Line Dancing Championships: Mar.

East Gippsland Agricultural Field Days: popular event with family entertainment; Apr.

Bairnsdale Easter Races: Easter.

Bairnsdale Cup: Sept.

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