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Ararat, Victoria facts for kids

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Barkly St to the Grampians, Ararat, Vic, jjron, 12.01.2011.jpg
Barkly Street, looking east towards Mt Langi Ghiran
Population 7,024 (2011 census)
 • Density 516.5/km2 (1,338/sq mi)
Established 1857
Postcode(s) 3377
Area 13.6 km2 (5.3 sq mi)
  • 205 km (127 mi) from Melbourne
  • 105 km (65 mi) from Horsham
  • 92 km (57 mi) from Ballarat
  • 125 km (78 mi) from Hamilton
LGA(s) Rural City of Ararat
State electorate(s) Ripon
Federal Division(s) Wannon

Ararat is a city in south-west Victoria, Australia, about 198 kilometres (120 mi) west of Melbourne, on the Western Highway on the eastern slopes of the Ararat Hills and Cemetery Creek valley between Victoria's Western District and the Wimmera. Its urban population according to the Council's Website is 8,076 and services the region of 11,752 residents across the Rural City's boundaries

It is the largest settlement in the Rural City of Ararat local government area and is the administrative centre.

The discovery of gold in 1857 during the Victorian gold rush transformed it into a boomtown which continued to prosper until the turn of the 20th century after which it has steadily declined in population. It was proclaimed as a city on 24 May 1950. After a decline in population over the 1980s and 90s, there has been a small but steady increase in the population, and it is the site of many existing and future, large infrastructure projects including the Hopkins Correctional Facility development project.

It is named after Mount Ararat 10 kilometres south west of the town which was named by Horatio Wills in 1841.


Edward Roper - Gold diggings, Ararat, 1854
Edward Roper, Gold diggings, Ararat, ca. 1854–58, oil on canvas, State Library of New South Wales
Barkly street ararat 1894
Upper Barkly Street in 1894. The fire brigade tower (since demolished) is the tall building in the distance, E.S. & A Bank and drapery business is on the right

Prior to the European settlement of Australia, Ararat was inhabited by the Tjapwurong Indigenous Australian people.

Europeans first settled in the Grampians region in the 1840s after surveyor Thomas Mitchell passed through the area in 1836. In 1841, Horatio Wills, on his way to selecting country further south, wrote in his diary, "like the Ark we rested" and named a nearby hill Mt Ararat. It is from this entry and the nearby Mount that the town takes its name. The Post Office opened 1 February 1856 although known as Cathcart until 31 August 1857.

In 1857, a party of Chinese miners en route to the Central Victorian gold fields struck gold at the Canton Lead which marked the beginning of great growth in Ararat. The Chinese community was substantial in Ararat, and the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre commemorates the history of the community.

Rapid growth brought about a municipality, which was incorporated as a borough on 24 September 1858.

Ararat became a city of asylums, with a large facility Aradale Mental Hospital was opened in 1865 and J Ward, a lunatic asylum for criminally insane (formerly the Ararat County Gaol), opened in 1887. Both have been closed but remain as significant reminders of the city's role in the treatment of mentally ill patients.

Vines were planted in 1863 by Swiss settlers, the Pola family.


Ararat from One Tree Hill lookout
Ararat from One Tree Hill lookout looking south west toward the Challicum Hills Wind Farm

Ararat is nestled between several mountain ranges, including the Grampians National Park, Mount Langi Ghiran, Mount Cole, Mount Buangor, Ararat Hills Regional Park and the Pyrenees Ranges. Cemetery Creek, the valley's main catchment runs through the north of the town while Green Hill lake is on the city's eastern fringe.



88% of people in Ararat were born in Australia.

62% of people in Ararat identify as Christian. Anglican and Catholic faiths are evenly represented with 18% of people identifying with each.



Ararat Town Hall, Ararat, Vic, jjron, 12.01.2011
Former Ararat Town Hall, now the Ararat Regional Art Gallery and Ararat Performing Arts Centre

Ararat's National Trust listed former town hall with its elaborate clock tower, designed by Molloy and Smith and built in 1899, is now home to the Ararat Regional Art Gallery, and the Ararat Performing Arts Centre for the city.


Australian rules football is a popular sport in Ararat. The Ararat Football Club (formed in 1871) was a founding club of the Wimmera Football League and continues to compete with its most recent premiership in 2001. A second club, the Ararat Eagles Football Club was formed more recently in 2000 to play in the Lexton Plains Football League, but now play in the Mininera & District Football League. Like many country football clubs, Ararat's clubs offer netball as a popular sport for women in Ararat, with the Ararat Rats representing the city in the Wimmera Netball Association.

The horse racing club, the Wimmera Racing Club, schedules around five race meetings a year at Ararat including the Ararat Cup meeting in November.

Ararat Harness Racing Club conducts regular meetings at its racetrack in the town.

Golfers play at the Aradale Golf Club on Grano Street or at the course of the Chalambar Golf Club on Golf Links Road.

Motocross has become a popular sport in the area, and the Ararat Motorcycle Club regularly holds events up to state level.

Association Football is played at junior level, with the Ararat and Grampians YMCA school competition from years 8–12.


The city's main community festival is known as the Golden Gateway Festival and has run since 1958 when it was set up to commemorate the city's centenary.

The Jailhouse Rock Festival (since 1994 a retro 1950s themed festival) are two major festival events in Ararat.

In popular culture

Two Royal Australian Navy ships have been named after this town. HMAS Ararat (K34), a Bathurst-class corvette, and HMAS Ararat (ACPB 89), an Armidale-class patrol boat.

In 2014 Ararat residents appeared in the Channel 10 hit show The Biggest Loser.


Popular tourist destinations include the Gum Sam Chinese Heritage Centre, Aradale Lunatic Asylum Tours, Langi Morgala Museum, The Astor Cinema, and J Ward. Guests can attend a day time history tour of J Ward or be incarcerated for an evening on the J Ward Ghost Tour.

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