Settled during the gold rush of 1855, St Arnaud in Victoria's Grampians region boasts beautifully preserved streetscapes, serene gardens and an abundance of pubs – one for every couple of hundred residents.
Grand old buildings with cast iron lacework verandahs line the streets of St Arnaud, originally dubbed 'New Bendigo' but soon renamed to honour the Commander of the French forces in the Crimean War, Jacques le Roy de Saint Arnaud.
Delve into local gold-rush history on the Cultural Heritage Trail, which features the post office, the old court house and Victoria's oldest fire station. Stroll through the manicured gardens of Pioneer Park and the Queen Mary Gardens and, if you're in town in November, celebrate the town's history at the annual St Arnaud Festival.
St Arnaud's botanic gardens and surrounding bushland can be surveyed from the lookout at the top of Wilsons Hill. For some fresh air and outdoor fun, head out of town to St Arnaud Range National Park and Teddington Reservoir. With their abundant native flora and fauna, and nearby lakes and rivers that are well stocked with fish, the region is well-suited to camping, fishing, four-wheel driving and bushwalking adventures.
Check out the collection of bibles, stamps and tapestries at the Bible Museum and be sure to have a look at the adjoining Butterfly Garden to see its many colourful residents fluttering about.
St Arnaud is approximately 240 kilometres from Melbourne, or just less than three hours by car along the Calder Freeway and the Wimmera Highway.