PAGE 50 I LAKES COAST VISITOR GUIDE A V O N R I V E R A V O N R I VE R A V O N R I V E R S TR A TFORD BENGWORDEN RD C ARTE R ST H O B S O N S T OLD PRINCES H WY P R I N C E S H W Y D A W S O N S T T YRE S S T TYRES S T M E RR I C KS S T B L A C KB U R N S T M C A L I ST E R S T R E D B A N K RD R E DB A NK R D OL D R ED B ANK RD W E LLSFORD ST ST E WA R T S LA N E LLOW A LO N G RD S A ND HILL R D WYND H AM S T M E RR IC K S T BRIAGOLONG RD STRATFORD MAFFRA R D L E E S T M C F A R L ANE S T MCFA RLA NE ST KI L L E EN S T DAV I S S T M C M I LL A N ST P R I N C E S H W Y P RINCE S HWY Police MAFFRA TO BAIRNSDALE TO BRIAGOLONG TO BLUE POOL QUARRY RESERVE APEX PARK THE KNOB RECREATIONAL RESERVE STRATFORD WELCOME TO 3862 Distance fromMelbourne: 229km Population: 2600 approx. Amenities: Local pub, supermarket and specialty shops. Accommodation options include caravans, cabins and motel. Scan here for full detailed map E R KN A BD E PORT ALBERT YARRAM CENTRAL GIPPSLAND LOCH SPORT SALE MAFFRA STRATFORD BAIRNSDALE Creativity on the Avon’s rocky banks Less than three hours drive from Melbourne and brimming with history and local colour, Stratford is a fantastic holiday destination for all ages and tastes. Situated at a ford on the banks of the beautiful Avon River, there is some dispute about the origin of the town’s name, although the most plausible explanation seems to be that it is named after the birthplace of William Shakespeare at Stratford-on-Avon in England. The town celebrates the idea with a festival each year around the Bard’s birthday in April. Gippsland’s Stratford prospered in the 1860s as a supply centre for diggers at the Omeo and Dargo goldfields. Early buildings including what is now the RSL Hall (built 1866), the Church of Holy Trinity (1868), the Methodist Church, including its bell tower (1873), and the post office (1884) are all still standing. The Stratford Courthouse, built in 1885, is a stunning preservation of the period architecture. It ceased court operation in 1976 and has since been utilised by the local historical society and as a library. It now houses a modern 97-seat theatre that features film and live performances. A three-kilometre interactive arts trail and sculpture walk, aptly named ‘Shakespeare through the Ages, is guided by MP3 and provides a means of discovery for locals and visitors to dwell and take time to appreciate the creative art and festival culture of the town. The trail links interactive ‘thought spaces’ and unites many art forms through story, song, history and sculpture and is free to walk 365 days of the year. The bed of the Avon River has proved attractive to gemstone collectors over the years with a reputation as a source for river polished gemstones. Stroll along the Stratford Arts Trail and walk with ‘Shakespeare through the Ages’.