It was named after French marshal Jacques Leroy de Saint Arnaud, commander-in-chief of the army of the East during the Crimean War. It is one of quite a number of towns named after people and places of that war.
It was founded as a gold mining town in the mid-19th century. The traditional owners of the area in which St Arnaud sits are the Dja Dja Wurrung people.
St Arnaud has a warm temperate climate with Mediterranean characteristics. Summers are usually very warm and dry but thunderstorms can occur. Maximums around 32 °C are expected with minimums around 15 °C. Winters are quite frosty most nights but daytime temperatures seem to climb to 9-14 °C with varied weather.
St Arnaud is on the main route between Ballarat and Mildura
St Arnaud is at the junction of the Sunraysia (B220) and Wimmera Highways (B240). The B220 heads north to Donald and south to Avoca, while the Wimmera connects St Arnaud to Horsham in the west and Bendigo in the east.
Coach services connect St Arnaud to major centres including the V/Line service from Mildura and Melbourne via Ballarat.
- The town had many well-preserved historic buildings which line the main thoroughfare, Napier Street.
- There are several attractive gardens in town:
- Pioneer Park (believed to be Australia's only remaining public park designed by Edna Walling),
- the Queen Mary Botanic Gardens,
- the Market Square gardens adjacent to the council offices, and
- Lord Nelson Park which offers sporting facilities
- The old Lord Nelson Mine
- 1 St Arnaud Railway Station, Queens Avenue. This heritage-listed building from 1878 provides a permanent public gallery and a hub for arts, a marketspace for local artists and producers, artists' library and lounge and a community space for lectures and workshops.
- The Bible Museum, 125-129 Napier Street, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM. Free.
- St Arnaud Historical Society Museum, 12 Napier St, ☏ , email@example.com. W F 1-4PM. Free.
- 1 Kara Kara National Park. A short drive south of St Arnaud towards Avoca, this park protects one of the most intact remnants of Victoria's box-ironbark forests. It features steep and forested terrain, campsites and the Teddington Reservoir.
- Walk up Wilsons Hill to enjoy the view.
- 2 St Arnaud Country Golf Club, 372 St Arnaud-Wycheproof Rd, ☏ . April - September. 18 holes.
- St Arnaud has an Australian rules football team competing in the North Central Football League.
- The St Arnaud Hockey Club, with five teams, competes in the North Central Hockey Association, playing its home games on the grass of Lord Nelson Park.
- The St Arnaud Netball Club competes in the North Central League against other surrounding towns.
There is a generous collection of pubs on Napier Street.