This walk is great for tourists and local alike! Journey past a range of historical features, observe interesting architecture and visit some of the prettiest spots in this fascinating rural town.
The walk starts at the train station, meanders through the CBD then heads out of town to Gum San the stunning Chinese Heritage Centre.
The Railway Station precinct is home to the Sand Dryer, Commercial House, the Terminus Hotel and the Railway Museum. If you are a visitor to the area – meander around to locate all these points of interest. The Visitors Information Centre is also located here and will provide a wealth of information - a detailed brochure about the historic sites in Ararat is a must have! The Railway Museum has limited opening hours so if you are hoping for a visit, check times before you go. For locals, the train station provides a convenient place to leave your car –plenty of parking available.
Interesting architecture from a variety of periods and a range of styles is a feature of the walk. Look out for historic markers to provide more information. The architecture in Ararat has had a variety of influences – Queen Anne, Art Deco, Gothic, Roman Revival to name a few. Many buildings were constructed throughout the Gold Rush era. The Shire Hall and Town Hall are magnificent examples of grand buildings constructed at this time.
A stroll through the centre of town, often under vine covered verandas, provides the chance for toilet stop and to refill your water bottle.
Heading out, Gum San and its orange roof form a striking feature on the hill and is well worth a visit. The walk then heads east to approach J Ward from the rear of the building site – a quick side trip to look at the amazing architecture of Pyrenees House, and then it is back to the beautiful, manicured surrounds of Alexandra Gardens.
The gardens, established in 1863, feature an ornamental lake, a fernery, a playground, a glasshouse an Asian Island, an Australian native garden and a herb garden –take time to admire them all! There is an 800 m walking track right around the lake, so if you are looking to add some steps – do the circuit a couple of times!
Leaving the gardens, you head back toward Barkly Street – you could turn left and return to your car, but this walk continues to the main street for a well-deserved coffee at Fred and Bet’s - one of the lovely cafes to be found. Enjoy!
The Visitor Centre located here and can provide loads of information about Ararat and the surrounding areas.
Look for this building as you head east on the Western Highway. It’s stand out paint work makes it very easy to spot! Turn left into Queen Street.
This red brick and bluestone building was built in 1874 and boasts a very interesting history. It opened as the Langi Morgala (Home of yesterday) Museum in 1970.
Completed in 1938 in the art deco style, The Astor was one of the largest purpose-built cinemas in rural Victoria. It closed with the advent of television, but re-opened in 1959.
The Shire Hall was built in 1871 – arguably one of Ararat’s most distinguished buildings. The building houses a WW1 honour board and a beautiful stained glass window that honours the fallen.
The monument was dedicated in 1930 to those who served Australia in various conflicts and in memory of those who died.
The Town Hall was built in 1869. The fountain, planned to mark Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, also commemorates volunteers who fought in the Boer War.
Barkly Street showcases many historic buildings and the vine covered verandas of the modern businesses. The first vine was planted in 1874 by Mr Grano outside his mixed business store.
Here if you need it! A small detour will take you to the Bull and Mouth Stables. Built in 1866 these bluestone stables were described at the time as “one of the finest in the country”.
The memorial was erected to the English-born nurse Edith Cavell who was executed in 1915 for assisting prisoners to escape from the Germans. Each Anzac day a nurse lays a wreath in her memory.
On the northern side of Barkly Street, pass Vindel House. Constructed in two parts, the Sub-Treasury and Assay office in 1858 – the post office was attached in 1862. The clock was installed in 1890.
A modern and thoughtful addition to the street provides the means for walkers to refresh and refill! Leave the main drag at this point and turn left into Ingor Street.
This dramatic two-story building with its authentic Chinese tiled roof houses a fascinating selection of audio-visual and static displays. Well worth a visit!
Completed in 1861, this building was originally a goldfields prison. From 1866 to 1991 was the only institution in Victoria entirely devoted to the care of the criminally insane.
Completed in 1886 in the Queen Anne style it operated as a general hospital until 1937. Since 1988 it has been used as administration offices and a nurse education centre.
The Alexandra Gardens is home to the Active Pathway Project consisting a multi use pathway around the perimeter of the lake, two exercise stations, a wetlands boardwalk and better wayfinding signage.
Head back to your car after leaving the gardens, or if you are in the mood, try Fred and Bet's for a great coffee and an indulgent treat.