Benalla Art Gallery, a gift of generosity and vision

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When he discussed the project this week, bulldozers were moving through the dry Broken River bed beneath his landscaped back garden, deepening the bed for lake waters.

The river will be partially sealed over a mile long to create an accumulation of water one hundred meters in diameter.

Unlike most Australian art galleries, which are surrounded by business blocks, the Benalla Gallery will also have great outdoor appeal.

Mr Ledger’s father began collecting Australian paintings for 50 years as a stock and station clerk and his son followed suit for 30 years in the business.

His collection is valued at $200,000 and he has enriched it with foreign purchases.

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His favorite is an 1888 Streeton print of the scene which became The-Golden Landscape in a larger version. “The former may be the freshest,” Mr. Ledger said.

There is a series of Heysen erasers – “No man ever painted such erasers” – that he bought from the collection of Nellie Melba.

Mr. Ledger’s house sits in Benalla’s most distinctive landscaped garden, surrounded by lemon-scented tea trees, magnolias, blue spruce and allectryons.

Chinese elms with mottled trunks like mosaics, birches and gingkos spread over smooth lawns to the edge of the lake.

And on the opposite bank will rise the gallery which will be one of the best established in the world.

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