Ararat: A Golden Heritage
Victoria has a rich gold-mining heritage and one of the most fascinating towns in which to discover the history is Ararat. This unique destination boasts a wonderful fusion of heritage architecture, intriguing museums, contemporary galleries, and fine food and wine.
Ararat was founded in the 19th century by Chinese gold miners and the early days have been well documented in the Gum San Chinese Heritage Museum. You can learn about the gold rush history and how Ararat may never have been, save for a chance discovery of gold en route to the established goldfields of the day. The Ararat Regional Gallery is also worth a look, with a rotating display of exhibitions and one of Australia’s major regional fibre and textile collections.
For a history lesson of a different type, take a guided tour of the J Ward Museum, a former prison and home to the criminally insane. Another option is the Aradale Asylum – a former psychiatric hospital, which housed Victoria’s mentally ill for over 140 years. Its cavernous halls have many a tale to tell.
Take a stroll past Ararat’s historic buildings, shops and cafes, to the Alexandria Botanic Gardens. With a serene lake, conservatory and colourful flowerbeds, it makes an ideal spot for a picnic. Nearby One Tree Hill Lookout is recommended for its panoramic views of the town and surrounding district.
Ararat is located in a fine produce area. The Ararat Seasonal Farmers Market runs quarterly, so be sure to visit if your stay coincides. Browse the bustling market stalls for freshly baked breads, savoury and sweet treats, and gourmet goodies. Venture out of town to the nearby vineyards. The Mount Langi Ghiran winery is one of Australia’s most acclaimed shiraz producers, and it features a cellar door, tasting bar and breathtaking views.
Image Courtesy: Getty Images/Tourism Victoria