Delight the senses of taste and sight as you spend your morning strolling the main street of Ararat – check out the cute boutique shops and bustling cafes, before making your way to Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre to uncover the towns role in the Victorian gold rush. Here you can spend some time listening to the stories of the Chinese miners and their arduous journey from Southern China to Australia. See intricate handmade textiles, embroideries and relics of this rich culture. Make sure to stop at the gift shop to find out what your future holds with a fortune cookie or Chinese horoscope reading.
Next stop is One Tree Hill for a lunch with a view! At the top of One Tree Hill you can expect unparalleled views over Ararat, the Grampians National Park and Mount Langi Ghiran. Pack a picnic and enjoy a tasty packed lunch with the best view point in town!
Visit J-Ward: After lunch spend your afternoon delving into the darker side at the infamous JWard Old Gaol. First used as a prison during the gold rush, the old gaol was later handed over to the Lunacy Department and housed the ‘criminally insane’ until its closure. Relive its past by taking a guided tour conducted by the lively Friends of J Ward volunteers. History tours run daily (except Christmas Day) and take approx. 1-1.5 hours.
After getting to know more of this intriguing town of Ararat you may be in the mood for an adventure of another kind – enter the spirit world for a bit of ghost hunting!? Why not try Ararat’s longest running ghost tour, the JWard Lunatic Asylum Ghost Tour. Explore the museum followed by a ghost tour of the home of notorious criminals including Chopper Read, Gary Webb and William Wallace. These ghost tours run on a weekly basis at 8pm on a Thursday and Friday and are extremely popular, so book ahead! They also offer Overnight Paranormal Investigations on select dates throughout the year.
Visit Aradale: Not too far from JWard lies another grand building with a dark history. Aradale Asylum was an Australian psychiatric hospital that treated and housed the mentally ill of Victoria for over 140 years. These days the precinct is used by night as the perfect place to search for paranormal activity or by day for those who are interested in history and architecture.
If it’s a day tour of Aradale that you’re after, choose from Lantern Ghost Tours who run each Wednesday and Sunday or Eerie Tours who run on Saturdays.
For those who dare to visit Aradale at night, the professional theatrical historians from Eerie Tours - Aradale Ghost Tours will guide you on their 2 hour ghost tour, held every Friday and Saturday night (prime ghost hunting time). So hold on tight to discover if you have what it takes to explore one of Australia's creepiest buildings after dark! They also offer extra-spooky extended ghost tours of 4 hours duration, a Paranormal Investigation and for the hardcore ghost hunters, the Ultimate Paranormal Investigation. Bookings can be made online here.
A special J Ward and Aradale Day Tour ‘combo’ deal is on offer each Wednesday and Sunday where a ticket can be purchased for $30.00 p.p. entitling you to a J Ward and Aradale Tour on the same day. It is recommended on a Wednesday so the ticket holder can take the 10am J Ward Tour and then do the 2pm Aradale Tour.