As you enter Grampians, you will be pleasantly surprised by the spirited town that awaits you. Ararat, once famous for the gold that people found here, is a wonderful town that is enveloped by vast rolling plains and wineries. There is so much to see in this wonderful town and so much more to do.
1. Find your peace with nature
Ararat is a picture of scenic beauty that will leave you spellbound, as you make your way through the walking trails to the numerous parks and reserves. You get to see wildlife in their natural habitat, a fascinating sight indeed, as they move carefully amongst the lush green vegetation.
The walking trails take you past aboriginal rock art, that give you a sneak peak into the wonderful culture that existed in these regions centuries ago. As you move along in your trail, there are points which offer breathtaking views of the plains from cliff tops.
If a few hours of walking is not sufficient to take in everything there is to see, then camping here will let you live amongst the serene setting. Watching the night sky light up by the stars and revelling in the sounds of the night is a one of kind experience.
2. Wine away!
Ararat is a gateway to the wine regions, a.k.a Grampians and Pyrenees. So, if your road trip is meant to be a wine laden one, then Ararat is where you should base it from. There are delicious cafes and restaurants that dot the stretch of road when you could go cellar hopping, so enjoy your meal with your drink.
Mount Langi Ghiran is considered to be one of the best vineyards in Australia and is also famous for its Shiraz. There are magnificent granite cliffs and red soils that are brilliant to view.
This is also a great place to set up a picnic, you can bring your own bites and enjoy a game of bocce for your entertainment or you could zoom past in your bike. There are also self- guided tours which could tell you interesting history about the place.
3. Built on Gold!
Step back into the truly golden ages, when Ararat was the centre of gold rush. This town has the unique distinction of being the only Australian town that was founded by Chinese immigrants. Relive the experience by visiting the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre and watch how they struck gold.
There are exciting exhibits of goldfields, farming estates, squatters and even ancient artefacts at the Langi Morgala Museum. There are detailed explanations if you opt for self guided tours around the city.
Since this city was built with money that came in during the gold rush, the public buildings are massive, grandiose and elegant at the same time. The main streets of Ararat is wide with many structures. Currently, this town is an agricultural district where oats, wheat and wine production dominate.
4. Queer Mysteries:
If you have never been satisfied with the plain and usual and like to delve a little deeper about the people who lived in a place, then there is more! Enter a surreal world of ghosts and mystery sightings as a part of Aradale ghost tours to Ararat lunatic asylum. This is considered to be the largest abandoned mental institution in Australia.
Ararat Lunatic asylum was built to house criminals who were considered to be lunatic, insane or retarded. The institution was run for 150 years and 13,000 inmates died when they stayed there. 3 of the inmates were hung in J ward, which has given rise to many speculations about the presence of ghosts in this ward.
5. For the creatively bent
Blast from the past! If enjoy rock and roll then plan your visit to Ararat to synchronize with The Jailhouse Rock Festival held annually. This show attracts the most talented singers and musicians from around Australia and a large number of people make their way here to witness it. The clock turns back at this time of the here as , in keeping with the theme of the music, vintage cars and fashion too are reminiscent of the period.
There is a textile art museum that has contemporary textile and collections of fibre art on display.
6. Friends with fauna- Alexandra Gardens
A walk through the fernery of the Alexandra Gardens is exhilarating, especially when the gardens are in full bloom. Other impressive aspects of the garden include the orchid glasshouse, the Japanese island and the Alexandra Lake.
The best time to visit this garden is between mid-December to the end of February, this is when the gardens impress with the brilliant display of petunias and marigolds. Other plants of interest include alpine, perennial and native plants. A wishing well and historic fountains add interest to the gardens.
7. Beeripmo walk
This is a challenge meant for the more experienced, as the walk takes you through fern dotted gullies and past tall trees. The duration of the walk is about 2 days and it lets you take in the beauty of Mount Cole, Mt Langi Ghiran and the Buangor State park.
There are plenty of signages meant to guide people, so people can go at their own pace, enjoying the walk.
Ararat is a golden find, an interesting place to visit and a stop that promises to entertain.