I decided last week I needed some R&R and some nature, so I headed down to Victoria’s lakes district on the south-east coast. I’d been promising myself I would explore the area for years but somehow hadn’t got round to it. I stopped the first night in Bairnsdale, before taking the last 38kms down to Lakes Entrance the next day.
Bairnsdale is a large town, set on the Mitchell River, with a population of around 13,000. Its commercial centre is big and busy, with wide boulevards, gardens and a central rotunda. It has some very exotic buildings, I must say, such as the courthouse (1894),
The Riversleigh, a lovely boutique accommodation,
and St. Mary’s Catholic Church, with the weirdest bell tower I’ve ever seen.
I wandered inside for a look and this is what I found.
In 1931, Italian artist, Francesco Floreani, was looking for work and the local priest offered him the job of decorating the inside of the church. Floreani spent six years balancing on a 15metre scaffold to cover the walls and ceiling with murals of religious icons.
I find it amazing it only took him six years. It’s not Michelangelo, or the Sistine Chapel (not that I’ve been there but I hear it’s great) but it’s pretty amazing all the same, and very surprising when you’re not expecting it.
We learnt about the Mitchell River at school. Named after surveyor and explorer, Sir Thomas Mitchell, it runs from the Victorian Alps to Lake King near Lakes Entrance and out into Bass Strait.
I parked the car and headed down to the river walk. Just before the trees morphed into a tunnel, I looked up to discover some sort of strange fruit hanging from the branches. But no, it wasn’t fruit. It was bats, and large ones at that; hundreds of them.
Now, as far as I’m concerned, bats are rats. I’m not fond of rodents at any time, let alone with wings. One of them opened his eyes and stared me out, daring me to enter the tunnel.
I rushed away.
It was a lovely walk in the sunshine.
On the way back, I sat for a little while on the Seat of Contemplation and contemplated.
Braving the tunnel and the winged rodents (who this time ignored me), I returned to the car and continued down to Lakes Entrance.