Ararat is unique for several reasons, including being the only Australian town founded by Chinese miners. The miners struck gold here in 1857 on the way to more established fields, leading to a gold rush and a major population swell. In 1857, the town was named after Mt. Ararat, a mountain 10km from the town. In the late 1800s a number of now-heritage listed historical buildings were built. Some of them you can see for yourself today, like the old Ararat Town Hall, which is now the Ararat Regional Art Gallery and Performing Arts Centre.
Drop into the gallery to see both the permanent collection and the work of local and visiting artists. The gallery is on Barkly Street, where you can check out cafes, shops and buildings with colonial charm. If you love history, make sure you visit the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre, which is set amongst Chinese gardens and tells the story of the region’s immigrant miners with artifacts and activities like calligraphy and gold panning.
Visit J Ward Museum, an old hospital for the criminally insane, or put your courage to the test with a ghost tour at Ararat Asylum. Australia’s largest abandoned asylum, it’s a pretty scary place for an after-dark tour of this once self-sustaining village. Venture inside the chapel, the morgue and the operating theatres if you dare.
Of course, if you’d prefer a good time that won’t cause you nightmares, have dinner at a classy local restaurant or drop into a cellar door. And if you love a good birds-eye view, head just a few kilometres north-west of town to find One Tree Hill Lookout, which has sweeping views of Ararat and its local mountain ranges.
And who doesn’t love a bit of rock and roll? Ararat’s Jailhouse Rock Festival is one of the longest-running rock festivals in the country, celebrating the 50s and 60s outdoors over a weekend in March with hard-rockin’ bands, vintage cars and retro fashion.
Ararat is just two hours’ drive from Melbourne, and we also have flights to Melbourne. Find out what makes Ararat so interesting with our range of Ararat hotels. If you miss out on these deals, you really will feel like the biggest loser!
Hotels in Ararat start at AU$75 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.