Page 132: Christmas in and around bairnsdale
  a nice touch  
  When you arrive at the Mitchell Gardens Holiday Park you are greeted with this message.  
  Good old bikers  

On December 12th there was a continuous roar from the highway near the caravan park. It was the local motorcyclists' annual Christmas Toy Run for disadvantaged kids. The police escorted them with red and blue lights flashing and siren wailing.

We walked into Bairnsdale and found the town centre packed with motor cycles of all descriptions and black leather clad figures in abundance.

  Wall to wall motor bikes. The jacaranda trees are flowering again in the gardens which run right through the town centre,
separating the eastbound and westbound traffic and providing parking spaces on both sides of each carriageway.

There was a country singer playing a guitar on the steps of a rotunda. He looked very smart in his Salvation Army uniform, and near him was a small truck filled with toys which the motor cyclists had donated and collected. We hadn't bought a gift so Pam enquired where she could donate and was directed to a Salvation Army Officer near the toys. She pushed through the crowd and gave him some money, only then realising that there was a long queue of people waiting to do the same thing. Since she was wearing her "Mad Woman" pink floppy hat, nobody said a word.

  The scene from the rotunda, the toys in the bottom left corner.  
  The toy distribution was organised by the Salvos and the collection by . . .  
  The Good Guys of motorcycling, the Ulysses Club.  
  What a church!  

Perhaps not as impressive as some churches from the outside, Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Bairnsdale was commenced in 1913 and the bell tower and entrance were completed in 1937.

  Saint Mary's Catholic Church, Bairnsdale, known all over Australia for its murals.  

The inside, however, is a very different story . . .

  The church interior is stunning - spectacularly beautiful.  

The artist, Francesco Floreani, was born near Venice. He came to Australia as a young man in 1927. Despite his talent he was finding work very hard to find and was picking peas for a living when approached by parish priest, Father Cremin, in 1931. He undertook the work in two stages commencing it between 1931 and 1934 and completing it between 1937 and 1938. As the information sheet says, "More than four years of lying, kneeling, bending and balancing on fifteen metre high scaffolding."

Francesco Floreani did not get rich painting murals such as these; to earn a living he was also known to paint houses and even fences!

  Christmas in bairnsdale  

Christmas Day was very quiet. Boring, even. In company with everyone else we ate and drank too much but compensated a little with a six kilometre walk up one side of the river and back along the other. According to the very accurate 'strain gauge' digital bathroom scales the next morning we should have gone round a dozen times. If ever there was a heartless piece of technology!

  We're going on holiday  
  Not having had a holiday since last Christmas we decided we deserved a break. I'll tell you all about it on the next page.