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About This City

Ararat is a city in south-west Victoria, Australia, about 205 kilometres (130 mi) west of Melbourne, on the Western Highway.

Is the largest town and administrative centre for the local government area known as the Rural City of Ararat. The town is set between mountain ranges and is surrounded by fertile grazing country. Its estimated population is 8,220.

Gold was discovered in 1857 sparking the Ararat district gold rush and making it a significant boomtown of the Victorian gold rush. The city continued to prosper until after the turn of the 20th Century after which it has steadily declined in population and continues to decline[2].

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

Prior to the European settlement of Australia, Ararat was inhabited by the Tjapwurong Indigenous Australian people[3].

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.

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

The Post Office opened 1 February 1856 although known as Cathcart until 31 August 1857.[4] 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, the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre commemorates the history of the community.

Ararat became a city of asylums J Ward, a lunatic asylum for criminally insane opened in 1859. In 1865, a large facility Aradale Mental Hospital was opened. 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 French settlers.

Ararat's economy is driven by primary industries of the region including wool, beef and the Grampians Wine Region. The region has a number of wind farms including the Challicum Hills Wind Farm produce large amounts of renewable energy to the National Electricity Market.

The city also has a significant service economy with health, community services and is a regional commerce centre. HM Prison Ararat is located in the town.

Tourism is a relatively small industry in Ararat, employing just 150 people and generating around $8 million to the economy[5]

Ararat is nestled between several mountain ranges, including the Grampians National Park, Mt Langi Ghiran, Mt Cole, Mt Buangor, Ararat Hills Regional Park and the Pyrenees Ranges. Green Hill lake is nearby also.

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[17].

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


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