Weekend Getaway: Ararat

Hiya Pals,
The rural city of Ararat is known as the gateway of the Grampians. It’s also a town that people simply pass by without a second thought. It was founded by the Chinese during the GoldRush times (1851 – c. 1914.) and sits upon the land of the traditional owners, the Djab Wurrung (soft language) people
Country Victoria has so many cities worth visiting, it just depends on what you’re after in a weekend away!

If you would like to know “How to spend a weekend in Ararat” click ‘read more’

In this article, you’ll find: (click to be taken there)
The Basics: How to get there.
My Top Choices: What you should see.
My Recommendations: Mostly, where to eat.
Where to Stay: Where I stayed or where friends stayed.
What I did: My diary entry.

All my posts have a key:
⏰ Opening Hours. 📍 Location
💰 Cost 📝 To note. 🎒 What to bring.


How to get to Ararat: From Melbourne.

🚃 Rail:

2h 30m | AUD: $30.40  | USD: $21.70
-You will need to purchase a paper ticket from the Vline Booth at Southern Cross Station.
– There is no Wifi on the Vline itself and may cut out at times. Make sure you’ve got something else to distract yourself; podcasts, books etc.

Want a book recommendation? 
Check out books I read in 2018 here.

🚌  The bus (firefly) is double the price and takes an hour longer. Really not worth it. 3 h 30m | AUD: $65.00  | USD: $46.58

🚗  Drive:

2h 52m 


Aradale Ghost Tour

⏰ 18:00 – 24:00 Saturday & Sunday.
📍 13 Heath St, Ararat VIC 3377
💰 $20.00 – $30.00
Ghost Tours: 2-Hour Tour: $40.00 | 4-hour tour: $75.00
📝The Aradale Ghost Tours are run by EerieTours.
🎒 Wear closed toe shoes, take a water bottle.

The Aradale Institution was originally known as the “Ararat Lunatic Asylum” which provided housing for over 1000 patients. The tour will tell you the history of how it came to be, the treatment of the patients, the doctor’s lives and how easily it was to be labelled “insane” back in the 1860s (especially for women, hysteria anyone?!) The Institution was open for a bit over 120 years and closed in 1993 (after I was born!)
If I’m honest, this was mostly a sad tour than a spooky tour. Just the treatment and overall history of this place.

Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre

⏰  11:00 am – 4:00pm
📍  31-33 Lambert St, Ararat VIC
💰  $10.00 Adult | $8.00 Concession 8.00 Children
The Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre is an interactive museum that displays the history of the migrant Chinese. Focusing on the hardships of the Gold Rush, there is a 12-minute video that introduces you to the story of those who made the journey across. You can read more about the history of Chinese-Australians here.

Ararat Gallery TAMA

⏰  10am to 4pm
📍  Ararat Gallery, Town Hall, Vincent Street, Ararat
💰 Free
The TAMA is a textile-based gallery. Although small, you could easily spend 30 minutes here.

Alexandria Gardens

⏰  24 hours.
📍  Girdlestone St, Ararat
💰 Free

One Tree Lookout.

⏰ 24 hours.
📍 52 One Tree Hill Rd, Ararat 
💰 Free
📝No access by Public Transport.
With a park bench overlooking onto The Grampians, it’s nice to take a picnic up there.


Foragers Cafe

⏰  10am to 4pm
📍 82 Vincent Street, Ararat.
Next to the TAMA Gallery (note: this doesn’t show correctly on google maps.)


The Restful Retreat

Airbnb Link (just to take you to the listing. not an affiliate.)
Don’t have Airbnb yet? (weird) then click here (this is the affiliate) for $55 AUD off your next trip!

🍽Free breakfast: toast with spreads, weetbix with milk.
Coffee & variations of teas.
Microwave, Toaster and Fridge available.
🛁 One shared bathroom between the two rooms.
🛏Two double beds and one single. Really comfy.
🎲Pictionary, Scrabble. Booklet on everything to do around.


We left Melbourne around 13:00 and decided we would do a detour via Daylesford to have the world’s best scones at Bad Habits Cafe ⏰ 10am to 4pm 📍7 Daly St, Daylesford. I’m serious. These are the worlds.best.scones.
Bad Habits Cafe is located within the Old Convent. It’s surrounded by lovely gardens and there is a gallery for $5 if you’re interested.

Friday, we arrived and checked into our Airbnb. I wanted to zonk out right away but figured we should probably you know, eat. We had dinner at the Ararat RSL. An RSL supports men & women who have served or are serving in the Defence Force.
The Saturday, we spent at The Grampians. Read my post here.

We had dinner at Sicilians Restaurant, one of the most recommended restaurants in Ararat. ⏰ 11:00 –15:00 | 18:00–21:00 pm 📍 102 Barkly Street. Now when you think big portions, think bigger, and then bigger again. There you go, the size of the Parma, which Benjamin finished (disgusting.) 
The Aradale Ghost Tour was cool, but it just went that bit too long. I kinda started losing attention after about the 2.5-hour mark. Some of the stories were pretty amazing, but mostly – just sad. I don’t think sad equates to spooky.

The Sunday we spent looking around the town of Ararat. We started off with coffee at Foragers Cafe and then checking out some cool art in TAMA. Textiles is a pretty interesting medium, you want to just touch it but it’s art – so you shouldn’t…. and don’t. Checking out the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre was super interactive. We didn’t find any gold when we were panning so although disappointed, we’ll just strike up gold somewhere else.

We didn’t specifically go into the J-Ward because we picked Aradale. They have a range of day tours here.
⏰ 11:00 –15:00 | 18:00–21:00 pm 💰 $17 A | $15 C 📍102 Barkly Street.
After checking the gardens and outside area of J-Ward, we headed off to One Tree Hill Lookout before driving home.

Full list can be found on Google Maps here

Ararat sure has some cool things to distract you over a weekend, may not be a top choice for some, but if you’re near the Grampians anyways – maybe there are a few things you’d like to see or do.

Have you ever been spooked on a Ghost Tour? Do you think you’ll stop by Ararat next time you visit the Grampians?
Let me know below.
Stay cool,

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