The Shire of Bairnsdale (1868-1994) was proclaimed on 14 July 1868. Centred on the town of Bairnsdale in East Gippsland, the area of the shire was decreased several times, with territory being taken by the neighbouring shires of Omeo, Tambo and Avon. The original area of 2980 sq km was reduced to 2278 sq km. The modern shire extended from the shores of the Gippsland Lakes north into the Great Dividing Range. It was roughly forty kilometres in breadth with the eastern boundary being the Nicholson River.