The Shire of St Arnaud was located in the Wimmera region of north-western Victoria by the Richardson River, 10km south of Lake Buloke. The lake is freshwater, and forms the terminal outlet of the Richardson-Avon River System. The Lake Buloke area comprises wetland habitat of high significance for waterbirds, particularly waterfowl and waders. The shire existed from 1864 to 1897.
The area is thought to have been occupied by the Wemba-Wemba Aborigines. Thomas Mitchell and his surveying party were the first Europeans known to have entered the area.
The Shire's development centered on the Banyenong Run of brothers James, William and John Donald, who settled in 1844. Their homestead became a social centre for settlers on the Richardson River by the 1860s, in part to the racecourse they laid out nearby. William Donald played an important role in the development of the shire, but the township was established when Johann Meyer, a German migrant to the goldfields, set up a shanty and began to sell alcohol in 1863 at 'The Bridge' or 'Richardson Bridge'. Meyer later went on to build two hotels and selected land for wheat cultivation. In 1866 the nascent town was surveyed and re-named Donald.
The St Arnaud Road District was created on 25 June 1861. The Shire of St Arnaud was formed in the 1864; 33 years later, on 11 February 1897, it became the Shire of Donald. Earlier in the same year it had issued a medal to commemorate the jubilee of Queen Victoria, including the names of all the councillors.
On January 20 1995 the Shires of Donald, Birchip, Charlton and Wycheproof, and part of the Shire of Kara Kara, were united by order of the Governor in Council to form the Buloke Shire Council.
Blake, L. (1977) Place Names of Victoria.
Municipal Association of Victoria website http://www.mav.asn.au/
Register of the National Estate website http://www.ahc.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=17257
Fairfax Walkabout Australia Travel Guide website http://www.walkabout.com.au/locations/VICDonald.shtml
Maroske, I.O. & Kirk, L. (1997). Shire of Donald 1897-1995: A Municipal History. Buloke Shire Council