Historic gold mining town with large numbers of impressive buildings
St Arnaud is a rural service centre on the south-eastern edge of the Mallee. It is located between Donald and Avoca on the Sunraysia Highway. The surrounding agricultural district is focused on mixed farming, merino wool, grains, legumes and vineyards. A former goldmining town, St Arnaud is noted for its impressive historic streetscape of old pubs, shops and elegant two storey buildings which feature post-supported verandas and ornate cast-iron lacework.
St Arnaud is located 241 km north-west of Melbourne on the Sunraysia Highway. It is 239 metres above sea-level.^ TOP
Origin of Name
When the township was surveyed in 1856 it was named after a French hero - Jacques Leroy de Saint-Arnaud. He had served as the French Minister of War and fought alongside the British as the Commander-in-Chief during the Crimean War.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Statue of Jacques Leroy De Saint-Arnaud
Located in Kings Avenue, designed by sculptor Maurice McGrath, bronze casting by Coates & Wood, and unveiled in 2005, the statue of St Arnaud is a celebration of the unusual hero after whom the town was named. The inscription on the statue is self-explanatory: "Jacques Leroy De St Arnaud (b 1796 - d 1854) Marshal of France. Marshal St Arnaud, although ill, commanded the French Army, combined with the British forces and a Turkish contingent, against Russia during the Crimea War. In 1854, seven days after leading the victorious Battle of Alma, he was stricken with fever and died 3 days later in a vessel taking him home to France. This was around the time of the New Bendigo gold rush when national spirit was running high. Records show that the Lands Department surveyed a site for a proposed village along the St Arnaud Creek in 1856, but it was ignored. It was clear that the residents of the goldfield had already decided on both the site and name of the future town. Thus St Arnaud came to be." For more information check out http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/people/foreigners/display/33498-jacques-leroy-de-st-arnaud.
St Arnaud Cultural Heritage Trail
The St Arnaud Cultural Heritage Trail can be downloaded by accessing the shire website - http://www.ngshire.vic.gov.au/Our-Townships/St-Arnaud - and clicking on the St Arnaud Cultural Heritage Trail under "Related Information") provides information about a total of 34 places of historic interest around the town. The most interesting include:
1. Crown Lands Office
Now the Visitor Information Centre, and located at 4 Napier Street, this building was completed in 1876. At the time it was described as "a splendid foundation of Yawong Hill granite, four rooms and a hall six feet wide".
2. St Arnaud Court House
The Court House, which dates from the 1870s and had a veranda and double entry added in 1882-1883, still operates today. It is built in what is known as the Victorian Free Classical style. Originally it was just a court room and three adjoining rooms. Then in 1882-1883 new rooms for the judge, barristers and witnesses were added as well as a jury box and retiring room.
3. Police Lock-Up
Located, not surprisingly, behind the Court House and next to the Police Station, the lock-up was built in 1862 and was part of a goldfields police complex which once included the policeman's residence and the stables for the police horses.
4. Kara Kara Shire Hall
Located on the corner of Napier Street and Jennings Street, this charming Federation era building was constructed in 1902 using locally made bricks. It operated as the shire's administrative headquarters until 1996.
Historic Precinct - 2 to 4
Napier Street, the tree-lined main road, is a declared conservation area and today still has a number of elegant red brick houses from the town's gold era. The houses are characterised by post-supported verandas and many have distinctive upper storeys.
The town's Historic Precinct is located on Napier Street, between Millett Street and Jennings Street. It contains several 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 an unusual second-storey with a clock tower. Extensions were made in 1895 to increase the living space for the family and the floor space of the post office itself. It is the oldest building in the Historic Precinct. Next door, at 4 Napier Street, is the former Crown Lands Office (1876-77) which is now the town's Visitor Information Centre. On the other side of the information centre is the 1866 courthouse. Behind it is the bluestone police lock-up (1862). By the Jennings Street corner are the Kara Kara Shire Offices (1902).
5. Victoria's Oldest Fire Station
Located at the corner of Napier and Inkerman Streets is the impressive first fire station which dates from 1883. It is the oldest fire station in Victoria. The complex includes the turncock's residence (turncocks were employed to maintain the flow of water by adjusting the valves and controlling the flow) and an original hand-pulled ladder cart which can be seen inside. Unfortunately the horse-drawn fire engine is gone. Interestingly no horses were kept at the station. Horses were so commonplace before automobiles that a fire emergency allowed the firemen to commandeer the first passing horse. Outside is the original hand-pumped turncock.
6. Post Box
In front of the Fire Station is an historic cast iron post box which dates from some time after 1860. There are now only 200 of these historic post boxes left in Victoria.
7. Botanical Hotel
Classified by the National Trust, this 1905 hotel was built from locally made, wire cut bricks. It features a Federation Filigree style with a balcony and veranda on two sides and rich iron lace work. Since its construction it has had over eighteen licensees.
8. Town Hall
Located in Napier Street this hugely impressive complex is a near-perfect example of the opulence that gold can bring to a town. The Cultural Heritage Trail notes: "On August 28, 1869, the Mayor, Cr. James Stewart, laid the foundation stone. The building was of red brick with a white brick base and granite steps. The formal opening was marked by a grand ball with dancing until six o’clock the following morning. Later additions included a soldier’s memorial portico  and a much larger concert hall . Upstairs the historic council chamber and gallery may be visited."
9. Napier Street
There are a number of impressive, 19th, and early 20th, century buildings on Napier Street beyond the Town Hall. On the Walker Street corner is the Royal Hotel (1873). Continuing along Napier Street, on the right, is 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 from 1907. Further along Napier Street, 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.
10. St Arnaud Newsagency
Look above the awning and you will notice the bullnose roof and the rather elaborate Federation Free Classical style structure. It was designed by architect, William Kell, and was built, reflecting the affluence of the time, in 1897.
11. Crone's Building
It is hard to believe that this impressive building, from 80-84 Napier Street, was the result of James Crone making a fortune from his butcher's shop in Stuart Mill. It is an outstanding symmetrical two storey Federation Filigree design with elaborate cast iron lacework, turned timber columns and a bull-nosed veranda. When completed in 1910 the building included an elaborate and hygienic shop interior, an outside freezing room and a ground floor residential area.
12. London Chartered Bank
Now the ANZ Bank, this building, constructed in a Victorian Domestic Gothic style, has operated at a bank since its construction in 1889. It was noted for having a huge vault. The London Chartered Bank merged with the ES&A in 1921 and the ES&A was absorbed by the ANZ in 1970.
13. Pioneer Park
Famed for its Edna Walling designed gardens, Pioneer Park is probably the only remaining public gardens designed by the great garden designer. Located at the end of Alma Street.
14. Maurie McGrath Farm Machinery
This unusual and imposing building dates from 1906 when, after his previous shop had burnt down, local hotelier, Richard Brain, got architect William Kell to design a Federation Free building. Over the years it has been used for everything from dressmaking to a furniture warehouse, a knitting mill, a bakery and, as the signage still shows, a farm machinery business.
15. St Arnaud Produce Store
Built in 1879 by Joseph Read (he ran the Commercial Hotel) it was first used as a wool and grain store and then, in the 1930s, it became a hay and grain store. It still functions as a store.
16. The Old Victoria Inn
Although it is no longer an inn - it still preserves the original hotel's bullnose veranda and intricate ironwork. Note that it still has the old horse and carriage entrance with cast iron gates. It is located in Napier Street.
18. Church of Immaculate Conception
Located in Alma Street, this impressive Federation Gothic style building was completed in 1907. The Cultural Heritage Trail notes that it: "contains many beautiful interior features, including a large triple light tracery window and an impressive marble high altar designed and sculpted by Pratellis Angari of Genoa."
19. Christ Church Old Cathedral
The Cultural Heritage Trail notes: "Ten years after gold was discovered, this Victorian Early English Gothic church emerged from the scrub. The design featured a steeply pitched gable roof, clad in slate, with five bayed minor transverse gables at the sides. By 1865, a British flag flew proudly from the vane, but it was not until 1872 that the church was finally consecrated. By 1877, the vestry was added in the space now used as a baptistry and porches, and an organ was purchased. Between 1926 and 1977, a bishop resided in the town and the building became a cathedral." It is located in Queens Avenue.
21. St Patrick's Church
Don't be fooled by the Salvation Army sign outside, this was the first Roman Catholic church in St Arnaud. Located in Queens Avenue it was replaced by the Church of Immaculate Conception in 1907 and became St Patrick's Hall. Later it became a private residence and then it was sold to the Salvation Army.
22. Masonic Temple
Located in Inkerman Street, the Masonic Temple is a simple single storey building which was constructed in 1926 although the Freemasons had been operating in the town since 1870.
23. Mechanics Institute
A wonderfully modest building over the road from the Masonic Temple, this Mechanics Institute was built in 1882 as a centre of culture for the local area (library, reading rooms etc) and still serves that function today. It was 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.
24. Scots Church
Located in McMahon Street, Scots Church was built as the local Presbyterian Church. The Cultural Heritage Trail notes: "This church, designed by Charles Vickers, features an impressive bell tower and spire with a steep roof clad in slate. Later additions included a Sunday school (1923–24), and the Bruce Dimelow Memorial Hall (1938). With the union of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational Churches in 1977, this building became the St. Arnaud Uniting Church."
25. Queen Mary Gardens
Although the reserve was established in the 1860s it remained undeveloped and local councillors tried to sell off the land as allotments in 1876, sparking a debate that lasted eight years until a general ballot was held. The result was very narrowly against the sell-off and the gardens were laid out with exotic tree species and a pond frequented by pelicans, seagulls, ducks and swans. The ornamental lake was originally a waterhole and the land a camping ground for teamsters. The memorial Angwin gates were added in 1913. In 1995 the gardens were restored to their original design by Kevin Walsh, a noted landscape designer.
26. Bank of Victoria
Located on the corner of Kings Avenue and Napier Street, this modest single storey Victorian Regency building was designed by architects Smith and Watts. The Bank of Victoria amalgamated with the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney in 1927.
27. Old Post and Telegraph Office
Located on the corner of Kings Avenue and Napier Street, this building operated as a Post Office from 1866 until 1924. Its Victorian Romanesque style was improved upon in 1895, when a second storey, with a gable roof, was added for the postmaster’s residence. Since 1925, the building has housed the electoral office, the clerk of courts, an air training corps and scouts. Currently, it is a B&B and cafe.
30. Railway Station
Located in Queens Avenue and completed in 1879 in a standard style known as the "Dunolly" style, the railway station forms a vital part of the town's economy. The railway line ran from Maryborough. The railway station complex consists of a row of buildings with a station office, waiting and refreshment rooms, a station master’s residence of six rooms, toilet facilities, lamp room and goods sheds. Nearby is a turntable and two water towers, one providing 10,000 gallons and the other 5,000 gallons. They were constructed in 1907.
Located at 125-133 Napier Street and open from 10.00 am - 5.00 pm Tuesday to Saturday, St Arnaud’s Bible Museum contains more than 2,000 volumes in more than 300 languages, including 30 Aboriginal languages. The remarkable rarities include a Geneva bible published in 1599 and made from rag paper; military bibles from the 19th century and, amusingly, The Bible According to Spike Milligan. The website notes: "The Bible Museum contains more than 2,000 Bibles, together with models and artefacts associated with the Bible message. There are educational displays of many types, including the history of the Bible in English.
"The Bible collection has original Bibles that were printed 400 years ago, as well as the most recent modern editions. The majority of the Bibles are in English, but many other languages are included: there are Bibles from every continent, and many islands: Australian Aborigine, Eskimo, Hebrew, Greek, and hundreds more.
"The Bibles in the collection range in size from large Victorian “Family” Bibles, to miniatures that require a magnifying glass to read them. Their bindings include covers made from vellum, velvet, olive wood, mother-of-pearl and tin, as well as the more common leathers. Some of the Bibles have brass buckles, many have gilt edges and many are beautifully illustrated. The collection also features models, including a large scale 'Ark of the Covenant', authentic archaeological artefacts over 2,500 years old, musical instruments, oils, models and lamps - all included in the one hour free guided tour!" For more information check out https://www.thebiblemuseum.com.au. They also breed butterflies and release 1,800 each year. For more information tel: (03) 5495 1169.
Wilson's Hill Lookout
Located in Pioneer Park, off Dundas Street, Wilson's Hill was the first site of the European settlement of the future townsite. Reef mining commenced here as alluvial mining declined at the original diggings site. The hill is honeycombed with shafts. The lookout is located near where the town's last mine, the Lord Nelson, operated.
Other Attractions in the Area
Wax Garden Conservation Reserve
Located at 20 Centre Road, 4 km south-west of St Arnaud, this Wax Garden is a 3.8-ha flora reserve within Kara State Forest. It was named for the profusion of Fairy Wax flowers which bloom in the spring. It is best seen when the flowers are in abundance in October. There is an information board and the St Arnaud Visitor Information Centre can supply a pamphlet describing the 70 native flower species and their whereabouts which can be found in the reserve.
This National Trust-classified vertical-slab woolshed is located at Tottington, 25 km south of St Arnaud. It was built in 1844 on Laurence Rostron's Tottington Station. Built from unsawn red gum slabs and with a rough bark roof, it is located in an attractive bush setting. The Heritage Council notes: "Tottington consists of a rare surviving single storey brick and weatherboard homestead constructed in the 1840s and 1850s around a courtyard, later additions including the ballroom constructed in the 1880s; the timber meat house and a brick building adjacent to the homestead; the timber slab woolshed constructed in 1845 and still in use; a stone cottage dating from the 1840s or 1850s; an early timber slab blacksmith's shop which retains the forge, bellows and some implements: a small cemetery; an early eighteenth century steam engine: the remains of the brick school house and the archaeological site of the winery. The property is located on the original pre-emptive rights of the original Tottington and Ramsbottom pastoral runs. The buildings are sited near the Avon River and retain their pastoral setting." Head south-west on the Wimmera Highway for 5 km then turn left onto the Ararat-St Arnaud Road and continue south for about 19 km. It is on private property and can can be seen from the roadside. 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. See http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/1084 for detailed information.
St Peter's Church
St Peter's Church (1874) is an attractive little bush church faced with white quartz pebbles which have been set in pink mortar. The pebbles were collected from miner's claims in the area. In theory it was an Anglican Church but it was used by all denominations. 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 and, although completed in 1871, it wasn't formally opened until 1874.
Located 25 km south on the Sunraysia Highway is the historic goldmining town of Stuart Mill, named either after English philosopher John Stuart Mill or a local named Stuart Hargarty who owned a flour mill. Gold was discovered in 1861 and there were several thousand residents on the local fields shortly afterwards but the goldrush was very short-lived. 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'. Check out http://www.victorianplaces.com.au/stuart-mill for detailed historic information.
Kara Kara National Park
Kara Kara National Park (3840 ha) is located 31 km south of St Arnaud, via Stuart Mill and off the Sunraysia Highway. It is characterised by mainly steep, forested terrain with impressive stands of box-ironbarks. As well there are scarred trees, stone artefacts and mounds which testify to earlier occupation by the Dja Dja Wurrung and Barengi Gadjin Aboriginal people. Squatters first took up land in the area in the 1840s and sites relating to the goldmining of the 1860s can still be found in the park. 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. For more detailed information check out http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/kara-kara-national-park and download the visitor guide.
Teddington Reservoirs in Kara Kara National Park
At Stuart Mill, Teddington Road (which heads south west) leads to the Teddington Camping Area and Teddington Picnic Area which lie adjacent to the Teddington Reservoirs (completed in 1900 and 1929 respectively) which originally supplied water to St Arnaud. This is an excellent redfin and trout-fishing location. Canoes and unpowered boats are permitted but there is no swimming. There are two walks from the camping area:
Upper Teddington Reservoir Walk ‐ This is a pleasant 2.6 km return walk to the dam wall from the campground around the eastern edge of Upper Teddington Reservoir and return the same way. It offers excellent opportunities to see a variety of waterbird species including the endangered Freckled Duck.
Teddington Hut Walk ‐ This is a 2.6 km return walk along Teddington Road from the campground to historic Teddington Hut. It follows Strathfillan Creek and includes impressive stands of trees and flocks of birds.
There is an excellent PDF which is downloadable and provides information about camping, 4WD roads, scenic drives and other information about the park. Check out http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/315643/Kara-Kara-NP-visitor-guide.pdf.
Logan and The Logan Pub
The small settlement of Logan is located 22 km east on the Bendigo Road, has a quaint little bush inn known as the Logan Pub (the Aussie Pub in the Scrub) which is located at 6742 Wimmera Highway and is an idyllic place to stop for a drink or refreshments. For more information check out The Logan Pub, tel: (03) 5496 2220 or http://www.loganpub.com.au.
On the website is an amusing description of the pub: "Logan, a rustic and historically significant hamlet in North Central Victoria, offers the genuine tourist a wealth of valuable experiences. Located a paltry two hours drive from Melbourne, the area boasts some superb scenic, high speed, touring roads with extremely low traffic density.
"The almost total absence of constabulary (or indeed any semblance of law and order) is another fine feature of the district, greatly appreciated by the motor cycling connoisseurs.
"Habitués of the Avoca Forest Hotel (better known as The Logan Pub) and newcomers might savour its early colonial cuisine, its quaint architecture, its tranquility and the warm bush hospitality offered by the Turner Family.
"Of singular fascination to the visiting urban city dweller is the unique homespun country humour of the armed (but friendly) inbreeds and genetic mutants who scratch out a miserable existence as kangaroo shooters and hog butchers.
"Camping and sanitary facilities are centrally located anywhere and reflect the hardy pioneering spirit for which the region is so justly renowned.
"The excellent climatic region of Logan and its environs is the envy of all Southern Victoria and, as the four year drought enters its thirteenth year, the weather promises to be even hotter than last year.
"Abundant local flora and fauna afford the amateur botanist or zoologist rare delights. Feral dogs, cats and wild boars, crazed with heat, rampage through the pungent infestation of stinkweed and stinging nettles, raising maddened black clouds of marsh flies and hordes of European wasps.
"While at night, venomous reptiles and arachnids emerge from tangles of boxthorn to compete for sustenance with scorpions, bull ants and swarms of mosquitoes from the foetid brackish creeks and poisonous water holes which abound in the area.
"Obviously then, Logan, with its endless variety of absolutely nothing, represents outstanding paucity of value for the tourist dollar. A shabby scrap of dying history.
"So journey to Logan and relive the shocking hardship of those wretched souls who opened up this land for reasons that no historian has ever been able to fathom."
* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was inhabited by the Wungaragira Gundidj Aboriginal group.
* European settlement began with the establishment of the 'Tottington' sheep station to the south in 1838.
* Other pastoralists took up land in the 1840s to use for breeding purposes.
* The townsite developed on the southern tip of James Orr's 'Yawong' run which had been 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.
* By late 1855 reef mining had begun at Wilsons Hill, the future townsite.
* A post office was opened in 1856.
* The township was surveyed and named in 1856. It was 2 km south-east of the New Bendigo settlement but it proved unsuitable and the survey was nullified.
* A school commenced in 1857.
* The present site was established in 1858. Some of the streets were named after British commanders from the Crimean War. Land sales began.
* Silver reefs were discovered in the late 1850s.
* The Court House was completed in 1859.
* A Wesleyan Church was consecrated in 1861.
* The St Arnaud community was proclaimed in 1861.
* A police lock-up was established in 1862.
* St Arnaud became a borough in 1863.
* Christ Church and the first local newspaper, the St Arnaud Mercury, were opened in 1864.
* In 1864 a Goldfields Reservoir was constructed.
* The local Anglican church was consecrated in 1865.
* A post office and a courthouse were erected in 1866.
* A pastoral and agricultural society was formed in 1872.
* The local hospital was opened in 1874.
* The first flour mill was built in 1875. That year the Catholic Church was consecrated.
* The Presbyterian Church was consecrated in 1876.
* From 1872 to 1876 the town became the gateway to, and the administrative and commercial centre of, the agricultural settlements being established to the north.
* The railway from Dunolly reached the town in 1878.
* The railway station was completed in 1879.
* The Lord Nelson Company Mining Company set up operations in 1883.
* In 1885 the local Botanic Gardens were laid out.
* The local high school accepted students in 1912.
* The Lord Nelson Company Mining Company set up operations in 1913.
* The last mine in the area, the Welcome Nelson, closed in 1926.
* A new High School was built in 1928.
* In the 1930s Edna Walling, the famous garden designer, improved the look of the town's Botanic Gardens.
* The local swimming pool was opened in 1941.
* St Arnaud was declared a town in 1950.
* In 1966 the town's population reached 3,000.
* In 1980 the Heritage Commission declared St Arnaud a conservation area.
* The passenger service on the railway line to Mildura was closed in 1993.
* In 1995 St Arnaud became part of the Northern Grampians Shire.
* In 2011 the St Arnaud National Park was renamed Kara Kara National Park.
* In 2014 a 24 turbine wind farm was approved for the area.^ TOP
St Arnaud Visitor Information Centre, 4 Napier Street, tel: 1800 014 455. Open 9.00 am - 5.00 pm seven days.^ TOP
There are a number of useful local websites. The Visit Grampians site has information on accommodation and local attractions. Check out https://www.visitgrampians.com.au/discover-the-grampians/northern-grampians/st-arnaud.^ TOP