Victoria Inn Hotel/Motel and the main
street at St. Arnaud
St Arnaud (including Carapooee, Stuart
Mill and Logan)
Substantial service centre in a rich
St Arnaud is a substantial country town of some
3000 people located at the south-eastern edge of
the Mallee plains, between Donald and Avoca on
the Sunraysia Highway, 235 km north-west of
Melbourne and 239 metres above sea-level. It is
a service centre to a district focused on mixed
farming, merino wool, grains, legumes and
A former goldmining town, St Arnaud is noted
for its historic streetscape of old pubs, shops
and post-supported verandahs, some with ornate
Some rare Aboriginal wells just to the north
of town are remnants of the pre-colonial era
when the area was inhabited by the Wungaragira
European settlement in the region began with
the establishment of the 'Tottington' sheep
station to the south in 1838. Other
pastoralists, who already owned grazing
pasturage to the south, took up land here in the
1840s to use for breeding purposes. The townsite
developed on the southern tip of James Orr's 'Yawong'
run, taken up in 1846.
Gold was found 2 km east of the present
townsite in 1855 and a tent city of several
thousand emerged, known as the New Bendigo
diggings. The alluvial gold began to decline
after the initial flurry and many departed. Reef
mining had begun by the end of the year and one
of the new sites was Wilsons Hill, on the future
townsite. The town's last operating goldmine,
the Lord Nelson, operated nearby in what is now
Pioneer Park (adjacent Dundas St).
A township was surveyed and named in 1856
after a French hero of the Crimean War - Jacques
LeRoy de St Arnaud. It was 2 km south-east of
the New Bendigo settlement but it proved
unsuitable and the survey was nullified. The
present site was established in 1858. Some of
the streets were named after British commanders
of the Crimean War.
Silver reefs were discovered in the late
1850s and helped generate the capital for large
companies to form and exploit the leads.
A police lock-up (still standing) was
established in 1862 opposite the reserve which
became Queen Mary Gardens. St Arnaud became a
borough in 1863. Christ Church and the first
local newspaper were opened in 1864. By this
time the tents had given way to timber, bark and
mudbrick dwellings. A post office and a
courthouse (both still standing) were erected in
From the mid-1860s, but particularly in the
1870s, the area was opened up for closer
settlement with many combining mining activities
with grazing and/or agriculture. The first flour
mill was built in 1875 and the Presbyterian
Church in 1876 (both are still standing).
From 1872 to 1876 the town experienced a
major boom due to its role as the gateway to and
the administrative and commercial centre of the
agricultural settlements being established to
the north. This role was further enhanced by the
arrival of the railway in 1878.
However, mining remained the mainstay of the
town with the substantial Lord Nelson Company
setting up operations in 1883. It did well in
the 1890s but wound down in 1915 when lack of
investment prevented the extension of the
shafts. The last mine, the Welcome Nelson,
closed in 1926, although cyanide processing of
the tailings continued for some time.
The demise of the mines was not dramatic for
the town due to its growing role as a centre for
pastoral and agricultural activity in the
district. St Arnaud was declared a town in 1950.
The annual Agricultural Show is held in
October, the Festival of St Arnaud in November
and the markets are held on the second Sunday of
the month in Market Square, behind the town
Things to see:
Tourist Information and Historic Precinct
The rather long, straight, narrow and tree-lined
main road (Napier St) is a declared conservation
area and retains a number of elegant red-brick
dwellings from the boom period of the gold era.
Restoration has recently been carried out under
a special grant. A consistent motif is the
post-supported verandah and the number of
distinctive upper storeys.
The town's attractive Historic Precinct is
located on Napier, between Millett St and
Jennings St. It contains several old red-brick
buildings, including the old post office at 2
Napier St which was built in 1866 with living
quarters for the postmaster and family and a
second-storey with clock tower. Lateral
extensions were made in 1895 to increase the
living space for the family and the floor space
of the post office itself. The oldest building
in the Historic Precinct, it now contains the
town's Visitor Information Centre and can supply
a map outlining goldmining and prospecting sites
and it has a walking tour of the town's historic
buildings. It also houses an art gallery,
restaurant/tearooms and bed-and-breakfast and
runs an accommodation booking service, tel: (03)
5495 2313 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Adjacent is the former Crown Lands Office
(1876-77). On the other side of the information
centre is the1866 courthouse. Behind it is the
bluestone police lock-up (1862). By the Jennings
St corner are the Kara Kara Shire Offices
Just along the road, at Napier and Inkerman, is
the Historical Society Museum (1883), located in
the town's first fire station. It is the oldest
fire station in Victoria. Attractions include
the turncock's residence (1883) and an original
hand-pulled ladder cart. Unfortunately the
horse-drawn fire engine is gone. Interestingly
no horses were kept at the station although so
plentiful were horses in the pre-automobile days
that the idea was to simply commandeer the first
passing horse in an emergency. Outside is the
original hand-pumped turncock. Opening hours are
uncertain at the moment so ring the St Arnaud
Visitor Centre for an update.
Bank of NSW and Botanical Hotel
On the other side of Inkerman St is the former
Bank of NSW (1873 with 1888 renovations), now a
private residence. Across Napier St is the
two-storey Botanical Hotel (1900), with its fine
cast-iron lacework balcony. It is named after
the gardens opposite.
Queen Mary Gardens
The openness of the botanic gardens contrasts
strongly with the restricted feel of the
commercial precinct. Although the reserve was
established in the 1860s it remained undeveloped
and unattractive. Local councillors tried to
sell off the land as allotments in 1876,
sparking off a furious debate that lasted eight
years until a general ballot was held. The
result was very narrowly against the sell-off
and the gardens were lavishly laid out in the
ensuing years with exotic tree species and a
pond frequented by pelicans, seagulls, ducks and
The ornamental lake was originally a
waterhole and the land a camping ground for
teamsters. The memorial gates were added in
Walk through the park to the old Presbyterian
(now Uniting) Church (1876) facing McMahon St.
At the corner of McMahon and Inkerman is a
wooden building erected prior to 1864 as the
town's first courthouse. When the new courthouse
was opened in 1867 the building, originally in
the 'Historic Precinct', was moved to the
present site where it became a mechanics'
institute and library until 1985.
Follow Inkerman St to the Raglan St corner where
you will find St Arnaud Anglican Church (1864
with 1877 additions).
Follow Raglan St back to Napier St and turn
right. To the left is the old town hall (1869
with later extensions). At Market and Napier is
the St Arnaud Hotel (1876) with a handsome
balcony. It sits on the site of the town's first
hotel which was built in 1856-57.
Backtrack along Napier St. On the Walker St
corner is the Royal Hotel (1873). Continuing
along Napier St you will pass, to the right, the
former Colonial Bank (1879), the two-storey
Crone's Building with ornamental lacework (1910)
and, at Napier and Alma, the ANZ Bank building,
erected in 1889 for the London Chartered Bank.
The Manchester Arms Hotel, over the road, dates
Continuing along Napier St, on the left-hand
side, are the Commonwealth Hotel (1902) and the
Old Victorian Inn (formerly the Victoria Hotel).
Note the fine cast-iron lacework and etched
glass. By the roundabout is the old grain store
Other Historic Buildings
The old railway station at the southern end of
Queens Ave dates from 1878. Nearby is James
Malcolm's Flour Mill (1875). Mrs Love's Cottage,
the oldest surviving house in St Arnaud, was
built in 1868. It is a good example of an early
miner's cottage and is located in Clyde St.
Wilson's Hill Lookout
Wilson's Hill was the first site of European
habitation on the future townsite. Reef mining
commenced here as alluvial mining declined at
the original diggings site (2 km east). The hill
is honeycombed with shafts. The lookout is in
Pioneer Park (off Dundas St) where the town's
last mine, the Lord Nelson, operated.
The workings of a worm farm in Millett St may be
of interest. It also supplies bait for anglers.
The St Arnaud Wax Garden
The Wax Garden is a 3.8-ha flora reserve within
Kara State Forest. Follow the Wimmera Highway
south-west out of town for about 3 km then turn
left into Centre Rd (gravel). It is a few
kilometres to the gateway on the left which
leads to the garden. It is best seen when the
flowers are in bloom in October. There is an
information board and the St Arnaud Information
Centre can supply a pamphlet outlining the 70
odd flower species and their whereabouts within
the reserve. Outside the garden are a barbecue,
table and seats.
The National-Trust-classified vertical-slab
woolshed at Tottington (c. 1840) was built on
Laurence Rostron's Tottington-Ramsbottom run. It
is located in a fine bush setting. Head
south-west on the Wimmera Highway for 5 km then
turn left onto the Navarre/Stawell Rd heading
south for about 19 km where it can be seen from
the roadside (on private property).
A little further along the road, you can see
glimpses, through the gardens, of the brick
homestead (c.1860) with a ballroom and south
wing added in the 1880s and some weatherboard
and stone outbuildings.
St Peter's Church
St Peter's Church (1869) is an attractive little
red-brick bush church faced with white quartz
pebbles which have been set in pink mortar. It
is located at Carapooee (follow the Sunraysia
Highway south for 8 km then turn left and follow
the St Arnaud-Emu Rd for 4 km). It once served
1300 diggers at the St Peter's Diggings.
Kara Kara Vineyard
Kara Kara Vineyard, established in 1977, is
signposted from a point 10 km south of St Arnaud
on the Sunraysia Highway. There are barbecue and
picnic facilities in the garden overlooking the
vineyard. They specialise in full-body fruity
dry white varietal wines (sauvignon blanc,
chardonnay and semillon), as well as shiraz and
cabernet sauvignon. The cellar door is open from
10.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. daily, tel: (03) 5496
23 km south along the Sunraysia Highway is the
former goldmining town of Stuart Mill, named
after English philosopher John Stuart Mill. Gold
was discovered here in 1861 and there were
several thousand residents on the local fields
shortly thereafter. Farming developed from the
late 1860s and one of the ore-crushers was
converted into a flour mill in 1872. There are
some old churches and other buildings from the
gold days. Nearby is an old mud 'oven'.
Teddington Reservoirs and Kara Kara State
At Stuart Mill there is a signposted turnoff
from the highway which heads south-west along a
bitumen road for about 5 km to the Teddington
Reservoirs (completed in 1900 and 1929
respectively) which originally supplied water to
St Arnaud (they now only supply Stuart Mill).
This is an excellent redfin and trout-fishing
location. Canoes and unpowered boats are
permitted but there is no swimming. Quiet
picnicking and camping spots are located
adjacent the reservoirs (bring a gas barbecue.
Anglers may also wish to investigate the Avoca
and Avon Rivers and Volcano Reservoir.
The reservoir is located within Kara Kara
State Park (3840 ha) which is mainly steep,
forested terrain at the southern end of the St
Arnaud Range. Scarred trees, stone artefacts and
mounds testify to earlier Aboriginal occupation.
Squatters first took up land in the area in the
1840s. Sites relating to the goldmining of the
1860s can still be found in the park.
Timbergetting has also been practised in the
Bushwalkers, hikers and 4WDers will enjoy the
views from the rocky ridge tops. Wedge-tailed
eagles can be seen in the park and the hollows
within the mature stands of eucalypt provide a
habitat for sugar gliders, the yellow-footed
antechinus, kookaburras and crimson rosellas.
There are 270 flora species, tel: (03) 5495
Follow the Sunraysia Highway towards Donald,
turning left into Volcano Rd, The reservoir is
stocked with redfin and is the main water supply
for St Arnaud.
The small settlement of Logan, 23 km east on the
Bendigo Rd, has a quaint little bush inn known
as the Avoca Forest Hotel which is an idyllic
place to stop for a drink or refreshments.
Myall Park Ostriches
There is an ostrich farm in the area for those
interested in surveying the goings-on of such an
enterprise. They are only open by appointment,
tel: (03) 5495 1351.