The Pioneer Park, Alma Street, St Arnaud is situated on Chrysolite Hill and was the site of quartz reef mining from the 1860s and the site of the richest mine in St Arnaud, the Lord Nelson mine, which operated until 1915. In the 1930s the area of disused mining activity was transformed by local volunteer labour under the auspices of the local Country Women's Association into a landscaped area as a memorial to the pioneers of the district. The CWA employed renowned landscape designer, Edna Walling, to design the garden. The early mining dam was transformed again by local volunteer labour into the town's first swimming pool.
Pioneer Park is aesthetically significant at a LOCAL level. It demonstrates original and early design qualities of landscaping of the inter war (1920 -1939) period.
Pioneer Park is historically significant at a LOCAL level. It is associated with quartz reef mining in St Arnaud and especially with the successful and long operating Lord Nelson Mine. It is also of significance for its links to the work undertaken by the Country women's Association to beautify the area.
Pioneer Park is socially significant at a LOCAL level. The park is a major landscape feature of the town and is a major area of recreation. It is also significant for the ongoing family connections to the men and women who volunteered to beautify the town and continue to care for the plantings.
Pioneer Park including the Former Lord Nelson Mine Site & Dam - Physical Description 1
Pioneer Park is now a garden area overlooking the town of St Arnaud. The park is entered through a cream brick and metal entry gates erected in 1956. The main large pillars have brass commemorative plaques. The short side pillars are topped with cast metal cappings are from an earlier residential gateposts elsewhere in the town. The park is on a rising site with grass and trees and many of the trees planted on arbour days and as set out by Edna Walling still survive. The main asphalted drive leads to the top of the hill where the old swimming pool which was developed from the mine dam still exists. There are the early shelter buildings and sets and other items around the pool area. Further to the east are the remains of the tailings dumps with the small circular holes used for nesting by the rainbow birds.
The remains of the battery erected by the Lord Nelson company in 1905 are located in Pioneer Park at the north end of the new swimming pool. The site is dominated by the remains of the battery's upper floor, a raised concrete floor which has traces of wooden stamper blocks and bearers for 30-head of stamps. A shell of a Cornish Boiler covers part of the floor. There is also a large concrete and brick engine bed on the western side of the floor. Attached to the northern face of the concrete and brick bed is a plaque which was erected in 1937 to honour the pioneer men and women of the town and district. In front of the bed are two cast iron columns which were erected in 1988 by the Country Women's Association to commemorate the nation's bicentenary. To the east of the battery foundations is the Lord Nelson Company's shaft. The water from this shaft was used in the late 20th century by a company which was involved in re-treating the tailings.