Ararat and neighbouring townships provide an abundance of diverse cultural and historical attractions, including the chilling dark side of the J-Ward Gaol & Aradale, unique institutions that will captivate all who walk through its ghostly steel doors. Delve into Ararat’s heritage at the Langi Morgala Museum and the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre. Learn about the importance of the railways at the Railway Heritage Museum.
Ararat’s premier tourist attraction with a unique blend of infrastructure and history. Starting its life as a gaol to serve the gold rush of the 1850s, J-Ward housed Victoria’s criminally insane men for more than 100 years. Closed in 1991, J-Ward is now a museum preserving the living conditions and the stories of the men lost to society. J-Ward is an experience not to be missed when visiting the region. Tours Monday to Saturday at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm. Sundays, Public and School Holidays: tours at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. Group tours and catering by arrangement. Girdlestone Street, Ararat 3377 03 5352 3357 email@example.com jward.ararat.net.au
Originally a wool and grain store, Langi Morgala now houses a fascinating and unique collection of district curiosities, artefacts and memorabilia, including the Mooney Collection of Aboriginal artefacts. A rare opportunity to glimpse the everyday lives of our earliest residents. Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am-3pm, Saturday 1-4pm. 50 Queen Street, Ararat 3377 03 5352 3117
Train buffs will delight in this fascinating collection of railway history memorabilia and a working model train. The museum’s display is a reminder of the important role the railway played in shaping the region. Open Friday and Sunday 1-4pm. Ararat Railway Station, 91 High Street, Ararat 3377 03 5352 2818
Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre stands as a monument to the contribution by the Chinese to the establishment and economic and cultural advancement of Ararat. It tells a story of deprivation, hardship and the incredible tenacity of thousands of men from the south east of China that made their way to Victoria, in the 1850s in search of gold. Become engrossed in the courthouse stories and see the original Canton Lead Mine tunnel uncovered during the construction of the Centre. A truly interactive experience for visitors of all ages. Open 7 days a week except Christmas Day 11am-4pm 31-33 Lambert Street (Western Highway) Ararat 3377 03 5352 1078
Aradale ghost tour is one of the creepiest ghost tours in Australia. Explore the facilities for 2 hours after dark. Be haunted by stories of bizarre history, brutal treatments, amazing personal stories and of course lots of ghost stories. The tour travels through the most intact cell blocks in Australia, administration, chapel, kitchen, infirmaries, surgery theatres and morgue. Tours are limited to 30 people, and are lead by a team of professional theatrical historians. Tours start at 8pm and depart every 30 minutes depending on demand. Bookings: 1300 856 668 or aradaleghosttours.com.au
Visit Australia’s home to the criminally insane, J-Ward Lunatic Asylum. Explore the museum followed by a 2 hour ghost tour of the home of notorious criminals including Chopper Read, Gary Webb and William Wallace. Explore the governor’s bathroom, hangman’s gallows, original kitchen, showerblock, grave sites, West Wing, J-Ward Block, exercise yards and grounds in search of the souls that still linger. Learn of governors who have murdered inmates, prisoners buried in the grounds and the many souls trapped within these walls. The tour goes for 2 hours with moderate walking, some steps involved. Every Saturday, Friday 13th, Halloween and selected additional dates Private Tours also available any date / time on request (minimum 15 people) Bookings: lanternghosttours.com or 1300 390 119
Take an informative guided tour of the institution that housed Victoria’s mentally ill for over 140 years. Now a ghost town, Aradale was once known as the Ararat Lunatic Asylum. Aradale and its two sister asylums at Kew and Beechworth were commissioned to accommodate the growing number of lunatics in the colony of Victoria. Construction began in 1860 and was opened for patients in 1865. It was closed as an asylum in 1998. At its height, Aradale had up to 900 patients yearly and is a large complex with up to 70 interesting historic abandoned buildings. The tour takes you through the cavernous wards and halls of the institution that treated and housed the mentally ill of Victoria for over 140 years. Tours run each Sunday and Wednesday, 11am and 2pm, 90-120 minutes duration. Group bookings can be arranged for other times and are limited to 25 people per group. Tickets are available at the Ararat & Grampians Visitor Information Centre.