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J Ward, Ararat's Old Gaol and Lunatic Asylum

Take a guided tour of J Ward, Ararat's Old Gaol and Lunatic Asylum. Hear stories of murderers, ghosts and mistreatment of mental illness.

J Ward is two and a half hours from Melbourne, close to the Grampians and open daily for tours by passionate Friends of J Ward volunteers. More than 10,000 people visit each year.

Tours run at 10:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm each day with extra tours at 12:00pm and 3:00pm on Sundays and Victorian public and school holidays (except Christmas Day).

J Ward started its life as a goldfields prison in 1859. When the gold ran out in the mid 1880s the prison buildings were acquired by the Lunacy Department as a temporary housing for the Criminally Insane. The County Gaol then became a ward (J Ward) of the Ararat Lunatic Asylum where the most depraved and most dangerous men in Victoria were housed in horrific conditions under the highest security.

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