About us

When you come to stay at the Riversleigh, whether you spend just one night or a week, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a truly unique, historic region of Melbourne. In addition to being the perfect base from which you can traverse the stunning natural landscapes of East Gippsland, the Riversleigh is also ideally situated in the centre of Bairnsdale.

Though it is a relatively small provincial town, Bairnsdale offers a diverse variety of activities and attractions to explore during your stay here—especially for anyone interested in learning more about the rich history of this beautiful area of Australia.
If you have never visited Bairnsdale before, read on for a brief introduction to the distinctive historical character of this charming riverside town.

Less than 300km east of Melbourne, the town of Bairnsdale is made up of the west bank of the river. Bairnsdale was occupied by Archibald McLeod starting in 1844, and interestingly, the name Bairnsdale draws its inspiration directly from McLeod’s hometown of Bernisdale, Scotland.

In the mid-1800s, the discovery of gold in the nearby area of Lucknow started to attract new attention to the area. Prospectors started buying up land in Bairnsdale in around 1860, with McLeod selling many tracts of land himself. As people began to come to the township in greater numbers, Bairnsdale soon started to establish banks, postal service, and trading, along with stores and hotels. The town’s population grew to about 300 in 1865 and continued to increase at a healthy rate, reaching over 3,000 people by the early 1890s. Indeed, Bairnsdale became a shire in 1868 and with the addition of a new bridge and an increased population, its riverside location made it an ideal spot for trade.

Agriculture also began to develop a presence during this period, and while wheat was the primary crop, other crops such as hops and maize also became important trade items. With its combination of agriculture and an increasing commercial centre, the port thrived and saw the introduction of new wharves in the 1870s. It was during this period of prosperity that the Riversleigh was first founded, in 1886.

Unfortunately, the expansion of the railway into Bairnsdale in the late 1880s, coupled with the depression of the 1890s, stalled the growth of the port and slowed development in Bairnsdale somewhat. However, the town recovered from this slowdown and was flourishing again by the 1920s.

The town of Bairnsdale has certainly seen its ups and downs over the decades. It weathered a number of floods in the late 1800s and an airfield in the surrounding area of Bairnsdale was put to military use during the Second World War. But even with a post-war rural recession in the 1970s, the town continued to expand slowly but steadily, and the population is now over 14,000. Neighbouring suburbs have also grown over time, including Lucknow, Wy Yung, and East Bairnsdale.

Today, the town offers an unforgettable blend of the past and present. The centre of town retains much of its historic architecture and remains rich in its Victorian heritage, including the stunning courthouse that features gables, towers, and arches. If you are looking for a glimpse back in time, the Riversleigh is the perfect place to drink in the atmosphere of Bairnsdale’s earlier days. 

Tourists often come to Bairnsdale to explore the unrivalled beauty of the nearby Gippsland Lakes region, but the town itself also has a lot to offer. St. Mary’s Catholic Church is a particular favourite among visitors. Dating back over 100 years, the church is filled with breathtaking murals that were painted by an Italian artist during the midst of the depression. Meanwhile, the Krowathunkoolong Keeping Place on the western end of Bairnsdale offers a cultural centre to explore the heritage and history of the Aboriginal Gunaikurnai people.

If you are planning a visit to the unforgettable Gippsland region, be sure to build in some time to explore Bairnsdale and its surrounding areas along the way. With its complex history and rich Victorian heritage, Bairnsdale offers a one-of-a-kind window to the past that is sure to inspire your imagination. Plus, the convenient location of the Riversleigh in Bairnsdale makes it the perfect base from which to spend a leisurely day exploring town and drinking in the atmosphere of this distinctive and often overlooked gem near Gippsland.

Our vision statement

The Riversleigh consistently aims to be the very best boutique hotel by providing a unique, chic environment where guests feel comfortable yet slightly indulged.
Our highly personalised service from well-trained and dedicated staff goes above and beyond expectation, with a special attention to detail.
We strive to retain the intimate ambience of a private residence with modern day comforts and amenities from our rooms through to our food and beverage offerings.
We care for and cherish regional community and tradition and take pride in combining local characteristics with a fresh new connected approach. 



• Complimentary continental breakfast served daily

• Off road parking

• Conferences, meetings and events catered for up to 130 people

• Disabled access room available


• WiFi is available in all areas and is free of charge.

• Free private parking is available on site (reservation is not needed).

• Pets are not allowed.

Food and Drink
• Bar
• Room service

Family Friendly
• Family rooms

• Non-smoking rooms
• Air conditioning
• Facilities for disabled guests
• Non-smoking throughout
• Bridal suite
• Heating
• Garden
• Sun terrace

Reception services
• Luggage storage

Business facilities
• Meeting/banquet facilities
• Newspapers

Cleaning services
• Daily maid service
• Guest Laundry

Stay Info

Check In Time
Check Out Time
Children Allowed
How Many Children Stay Free?
Age Children Stay Free
Early Check In Available
Late Check Out Available
Guide Pets

Payment Options

  • American Express
  • Debit Cards
  • Mastercard
  • Visa
  • Cash
  • UnionPay