is a former gold town located on the eastern side of the Grampians.
The city features a number of impressive buildings with interesting
histories, including the notorious J Ward, once the home for the
criminally insane. The city and surrounding areas are renowned
for their fine merino wool and more recently as producers of some
of Victoria's most celebrated wines.
In 1840, after 11 months of droving cattle and sheep from
the Murrumbidgee to the Grampians, Horatio Spencer Wills camped
near a large bald mountain which he named Mount Ararat. Other
squatters soon followed, quickly establishing the districts fame
for breeding merino fine wool.
In 1854 gold was found, but it was in May 1857 that the big rush
began. Within a few weeks, upwards of 20,000 people were camped
on the site of Ararat. In one period of 3 months, over 3 tons
of gold left the district by official escort.
The gold ran out in the 1860's, but the Mount William goldrush
of 1900 heralded a new mining revival which pushed up Ararat's
permanent population to 4,000. Several buildings are now classified
by the National Trust. The city was proclaimed in 1950.
to Do and See
At the heart of Ararat is the historic and picturesque Alexandra
Gardens featuring a walk-in fernery, ornamental lake, and their
renowned Orchid Glass House.
The Ararat County Gaol, or 'J' Ward' opened in 1861 as a country
gaol equipped with gallows. This infamous bluestone complex was
taken over by the Ararat Mental Hospital as 'J Ward', to house
the criminally and dangerously insane. Tours include a visit to
the memorabilia collection which documents the history of penal
and psychiatric reform in Ararat.
Walk back in history with a visit to Canton Lead, a rich goldfield
discovered by chance by a one of 700 Chinese miners in 1857, who
were just passing through. The site has been landscaped as a memorial
park to Ararat's early Chinese migrants.
Greenhill Lake, 4.5kms east of Ararat, is a peaceful and relaxing
environment, that provides for swimming and boating activities.
The lake covers 217 hectares and supports an abundance of wildlife
and attracts anglers from all around for it's large trout.
Other Points of Interest
The Ararat Gallery, among other things, contains a specialist
collection of fibre/textile art.
One Tree Hill Scenic Lookout offers superb 360 degree panoramic
views of the area surrounding Ararat.
The Langi Morgala Museum houses the Mooney collection of Aboriginal
artifacts and district memorabilia. Formerly known as Carroll's
Woolstore, this museum building was built in 1874 and has been
described as "one of the most elaborate and sophisticated
woolstores to be constructed in the 19th century". Originally
designed as a wool and grain store, the Federal Government took
it over in 1942 to function as a military foodstore. It subsequently
served as a parachute manufacturing factory before the Ararat
and District Historical society took it over in 1970.
How to Get There
Ararat is approximately 202kms north-west of Melbourne
Melways Ref: 526 E2
Ararat Visitor Information Centre
Town Hall Square, Barkly St,
(PO Box 246), Ararat, 3377
Ph: (03) 5352 2096
Freecall: 1800 657 158
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