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Bairnsdale (Ganai: Wy-yung) is a city in East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia in a region traditionally owned by the Tatungalung clan of the Gunaikurnai people.


  • Area:63.496 km2
  • Elevation:19 m
  • Population:7,580
  • Local Government Area:East Gippsland Shire Council


Bairnsdale (Ganai: Wy-yung) is a city in East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia in a region traditionally owned by the Tatungalung clan of the Gunaikurnai people.The estimated population of Bairnsdale urban area was 15,411 at June 2018. The city is a major regional centre of eastern Victoria along with Traralgon and Sale and the commercial centre for the East Gippsland region and the seat of local government for the Shire of East Gippsland. Bairnsdale was first proclaimed a shire on 16 July 1868 and it was proclaimed as a city on 14 July 1990.The origin of the city's name is uncertain. It was possibly Bernisdale, with "Bernis-dale" originating from "Bjorn's dale, or glen", which indicates the Viking origins of the Skye Village. Legend has it that Macleod was so impressed by the large number of children on the run, the children of his stockmen, that he called it Bairns-dale, or "valley of the children". The Ganai name for the area, 'Wy-yung', refers to a kind of duck and the name for Bairnsdale backwater area is 'Kauan' meaning echidna.In 1876 the Bairnsdale Shire, which went on to become one of the largest in Victoria in the 1880s, was led out of administrative chaos by former shire auditor and shipping agent Herman Bredt. He had also acted as a mine manager for the nearby Sons of Freedom mine. German born Bredt was the father of Bertha Bredt who married the famous Australia poet and writer Henry Lawson. Prior to this she had worked at the Bairnsdale Hospital. In this period the Main Street was fashioned but was unsealed thereby causing extensive problems of dust in the summer and mud in the winter. Asphalting didn't take place until 1883. Nicholson Street was formed in 1877 and MacLeod Street followed in 1879.The Gunaikurnai people are the traditional owners of Gippsland. There are approximately 3,000 Gunaikurnai people, and the territory includes the coastal and inland areas to the southern slopes of the Victorian Alps. Gunaikurnai people are made up of five major clans, of which the Tatungalung are owners of the region in which Bairnsdale is located. # History # Weather Bairnsdale experiences a temperate climate with warm summers and cool, damp winters. The highest recorded temperature in the town was 46.2 degrees Celsius on 7 February 2009, during the early 2009 Australian summer heatwave. The lowest, -5.4 degrees, was recorded on 2 July 2017. # Things to do Some of the earlier buildings in the town are perhaps a memorial to William J. Yates, who was a prominent architect, builder and monumental mason. He built the school, the old Shire Hall (1860), the Wesleyan Church and parsonage (1876), St. John's Church, the old Bairnsdale Hospital (corner of McKean and Ross Streets) and the Mechanic's Hall. ## Roman Catholic Church 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. Construction of St Mary's Church was commenced in 1913, replacing an earlier brick church which had been built thirty years earlier in 1883. Murals cover the walls and ceiling of St Mary's in Bairnsdale depicting saints, the trinity and scenes of hell, purgatory, heaven and the crucifixion. Every year the church receives up to 80,000 visitors from all over Australia and the world. The murals were painted by out of work Italian artist Francesco Floreani during the Great Depression and remains a fascination to this day. St Mary's Roman Catholic Church was well established when a new church building was opened on 29 April 1883. The Reverend Fr Patrick O'Donohue was priest from 1883 to 1888. Early in the 1880s a school was opened and developed quickly so that extensions to the building were added in 1888. There were about 120 pupils in 1890. Fr Cremin oversaw the congregation from 1909 and in this period plans were drawn up to erect a magnificent brick church at an estimated £10,000. The architects were A. A. Fritsch and Harry French. Work started in August 1913 with the a stone being laid by Bishop Phelan of Sale on 19 October. The new church with its tower, described by a witness as, "a free treatment of Romanesque style, built of brick with a slate roof".Bairnsdale experienced growth in church numbers in the 1880s, many of them frequently recording packed congregations, particularly on special occasions. St Johns Church of England often had congregations of over 200 at the morning and evening services. The congregations of that church were headed by the Reverend E. W. S. Hartmann who later lost his life crossing the flooded Mitchell River. He was succeeded by W. G. Hindley, under whom a new brick church was built (still on the corner of Francis and Service Streets) and opened by Bishop Moorhouse on 24 June 1884. ## Gardens Bairnsdale's centre gardens stretch from the Mitchell River to the western edge of town, a distance of about 4 kilometres (2 mi). The main garden section runs for over 500 metres (550 yd) through the central commercial district and features beds of flowering annuals and perennials, numerous mature deciduous and evergreen trees, war memorials and a restored historic band rotunda. The rotunda was constructed in 1910 and restored to its present condition in 1993. In 1943 the erection of a monument at the eastern end of the gardens to the district centenary led to that section being called the Centenary Garden. The Country Women's Association (CWA) Younger set took over the beautification of the Centenary Garden in 1947 and planted a tree there in May of that year to commemorate the 21st birthday of Princess Elizabeth. Extensive tree planting with Australian native trees was carried out in the post-war years, providing a colourful display, particularly in spring and early summer.From 1964 under the care of the town's head gardeners, E. A. Cottrell and C. T. Harrison, the gardens had been extended westward with the planting of hardy trees, in particular desert ash and flowering gum. By 1959 the highway had been extended to the foot of the hospital hill, and tree planting and lawns had provided two kilometres of gardens on the centre reserves. Garden beds were extended westward to the West End Store in 1975 with the help of people employed under the Whitlam Government Regional Employment Development Scheme (REDS) for the unemployed. In 1969 a wishing well that was carved by Bruce Duffy of the Technical School and financed by the Rotary was erected in the Centre Gardens adjacent to the Coles supermarket. In 1984 a plaque was added to commemorate Victoria's 150th anniversary.To commemorate those locals who did not return from the Boer War in 1899, a monument was unveiled in the Main Street Gardens on 12 June 1903 in the presence of Lord and Lady Forrest, a number of returned men, school cadets and a large crowd of citizens. ## Cemetery The Bairnsdale cemetery is now located off Forge Creek road opposite the race course. Its original location was situated at punt flat, now the site of the Mitchell Gardens Holiday Park beside the river. A plaque in acknowledgement of the site is located at the south-east corner of the Caravan Park. As a result of the major flooding in 1870 the site experienced erosion and reports were made that remains were washed downstream. Peter Moroney, Shire Secretary at the time, instructed William Jefferson to retrieve the remains and they were re-interred at the present cemetery.As far back as the 1920s the cemetery was frequently criticised for its untidy appearance. It was proposed around this time that the cemetery be removed from the overseer of the council and transferred to the care of the different denominations. This was not adopted. In 1990 control of the cemetery was transferred to a community based trust. The lawn section of the cemetery was commenced in 1969. Initially, wooden pegs were used to indicate grave numbers; later, cloverleaf-shaped cast-iron pegs were used. In 1946 a memorial garden was established for Bairnsdale's war dead. The Imperial War Graves Commission took over this section in 1946 and the area was attractively laid out with a fine gate and cypress hedge, well kept lawns and white headstones, with a central memorial Cross of Sacrifice to the memory of the RAAF personnel who died in the Bairnsdale district during the war. Sir Dallas Brooks unveiled the Cross on a visit to the town on 7 September 1950. The lawn section was planned in 1964 and completed in 1970.Frederick Jones was the earliest of the squatters in the Bairnsdale Shire. Jones had previously been a school teacher in Castlereagh Street, Sydney. In the early 1840s Jones joined one of the early pastoralists in the Gippsland area, William Odell Raymond, at Omeo—he was traveling south from the Wellington area where he owned land on the Macquarie River across the border in New South Wales. They arrived at the Mitchell River crossing on 20 June 1842. Once in the region Jones decided to take up the area of Lucknow. He named it such, in contrast to the other settlers Frederick Taylor and John M. Loughnan who had taken up Lindenow—the reason being that Jones had left Sydney a poor man and he felt auspicious about his new life and hence felt his 'luck' was on the ascendancy.In 1848 John Archer who was a retired sea-captain was appointed manager of Lucknow Station. Jones traveled back to New South Wales to visit his run on the Murrumbidgee River. Archer had been a master on the Letitia which operated between Sydney and Hobart and, later, traded cattle between Port Albert and Hobart. In 1845 Archer married a young girl named Eliza and brought her to Gippsland, settling at Lucknow in 1847. Eliza died in childbirth and her grave can still be seen to this day by the roadside in Crooke Street, East Bairnsdale. The inscription on the headstone reads 'Sown in weakness, to be raised in power'. The monument is not on the original burial position, several house blocks to the west, and has been moved down the street as houses have been built. It is thought that this headstone is the only remaining evidence that there was indeed a cemetery in this location in the 1800s.