Barkly Street, looking east towards Mt Langi Ghiran
|Area||12.6 km² (4.9 sq mi)|
|LGA(s)||Rural City of Ararat|
Ararat is a small city in south-west Victoria, Australia, about 205 kilometres (130 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 2011 census was 7,024.
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. Today, however it continues to decline.
It is named after Mount Ararat 10 kilometres south west of the town which was named by Horatio Wills in 1841.
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, 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 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.
Servicing visitors to the Grampians National Park and the local wine industry, tourism is a relatively small but significant industry in Ararat, employing 150 people and generating around $8 million to the economy, however its impact on the surrounding region is significant with tourists spending $270 million annually.
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.
Ararat has four primary schools - Ararat Primary; Ararat West Primary; Ararat North Primary and St Marys Catholic Primary School. In addition there are several kindergartens in the city. There are two main colleges - Ararat Community College and Marian College which is a Catholic high school. Ararat has regional campuses of the University of Ballarat and Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE.
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. 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.
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 
Popular tourist destinations include the Gum Sam Chinese Heritage Centre 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. In 2013 reality weight-loss TV show The Biggest Loser will film special episodes in the town.
The main form of transport is road transport and motor vehicles. According to the 2006 Census, 88% of people traveled to work by motor vehicle, the vast majority of which traveled by automobile. Ararat is situated at the junction of several main roads including the Western Highway via High Street (running eastward to Ballarat and Melbourne and westward to Horsham and Adelaide); the Pyrenees Highway via Vincent Street (running east to Avoca and Maryborough); Ararat-Pomonal Road via Barkly Street (westward towards Halls Gap) and the Mortlake-Ararat Road via Vincent Street (running south with connections to the west and Hamilton, south and Warrnambool and to the east and Geelong). Ararat's urban area streets are laid out in grid plan. Roads are also important for public transport. Ararat Transit provides 86 bus services on three routes 5 days a week, connecting with train services. According to the 2006 Census, just 4 persons in Ararat traveled to work by bus. Taxi services are provided by Ararat Cabs (since November 2010), provides 6 normal taxi-cabs and 1 wheeel-chair bus, capable of 2 wheelchairs or 10 standard passengers.
Rail transport includes both passenger rail and freight rail. The city's only station is Ararat's railway station which is on the Ararat railway line and is the terminal train station for the Ararat V/Line rail service. Twice daily peak VLocity services run to Ballarat (53 minutes) and on to Melbourne (133–143 minutes), with some trains stopping at stations in between. The rail station is at the junction of the Ararat line, the Western standard gauge railway and Avoca railway. The Overland runs to Melbourne three times weekly (140 minutes) and travel to Adelaide is also possible (16 hours).
Ararat & District Hospital (established in 1850) is a major regional hospital and is coordinated by the East Grampians Health Service and Ararat Medical Centre.
Ararat's water supply is from the Langi Ghiran Reservoir and the Picnic Road Reservoir both located in the Langi Ghiran State Park and managed by the Ararat Rural City Council. Olivers Gully reservoir is a secondary supply.
Notable people 
- Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Scherger was born in Ararat on 18 May 1904
- Shane Kelly Olympic Cyclist and medal winner
- Luke Brennan Chief of Medicine at Mannix College in Melbourne
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Ararat (UCL)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- Premier Postal History, Post Office List, retrieved 2008-04-11
- Full Points Footy, Ararat, retrieved 2008-07-25
- Country Racing Victoria, Wimmera Racing at Ararat, retrieved 2009-05-07[dead link]
- Australian Harness Racing, Ararat, retrieved 2009-05-11
- Golf Select, Ararat, retrieved 2009-05-11
- Golf Select, Chalambar, retrieved 2009-05-11
- "Ararat transit launched". Ararat Advertiser. yourguide.com.au. 13/05/2008. Archived from the original on 22 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
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