Gum San Chinese Heritage Museum, Tourism Victoria

Population 7170

Ararat is a city with a vibrant history. Once inhabited by the Tjapwurong Aboriginal people, the promising lands soon saw squatters move in, and the area really started to boom when gold was discovered in 1854. Thousands of prospectors arrived, and Ararat finally came into existence when Chinese immigrants rested on the town's site in 1857, after walking from South Australian ports in order to avoid Victorian poll taxes. One member of the party discovered alluvial gold, and Ararat was born. Today Ararat is a service centre to its agricultural surrounds.

Visitor Information

Ararat Railway Station, 91 High St; (03) 5355 0281 or 1800 657 158

Nearby national parks

  • Mount Eccles National Park

    Mount Eccles National Park is Victoria’s first co-managed national park, being managed by the traditional owners,...more

  • Brisbane Ranges National Park

    In Brisbane Ranges National Park low mountains are dissected by rugged gorges and hidden gullies with basalt grasslands and woodlands. An...more

  • Wyperfeld National Park

    In the state’s arid north-west, Wyperfeld is a vast park of open plains and spreading mallee eucalypts. The usually bone-dry bed of...more

Nearby towns

  • Stawell

    Pastoral runs were established in the Stawell (rhymes with ball) region in the 1840s, but it was the discovery of gold in 1853 by a shepherd...more

  • Halls Gap

    The little village of Halls Gap is set in the heart of the Grampians. It was named after Charles Browing Hall, who discovered the gap and...more

  • Avoca

    Avoca was built during the gold boom of the 19th century and is renowned for its wide main street, divided by a stretch of park with trees...more

In Town

J Ward The town's original gaol, 'J Ward' served as an asylum for the criminally insane for many years and offers an eerie glimpse into the history of criminal confinement. Now guided tours reveal in chilling detail what life was like for the inmates. Girdlestone St; daily tours; (03) 5352 3357.

Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre Gum San means 'hill of gold', a fitting name for this impressive centre built in traditional Southern Chinese style and incorporating the principles of feng shui. The centre celebrates the contribution of the Chinese community both to Ararat, which is said to be the only goldfields town founded by Chinese prospectors, and to the surrounding Goldfields region. The experience is brought to life with interactive displays and an original Canton lead-mining tunnel, uncovered during the building of the centre. Western Hwy; (03) 5352 1078.

Alexandra Park and Botanical Gardens: an attractive formal garden featuring ornamental lakes, fountains and an orchid glasshouse; Vincent St.

Historical self-guide tours (walking or driving): of particular note are the bluestone buildings in Barkly St, including the post office, town hall, civic square and war memorial; details from visitor centre.

Ararat Art Gallery: a regional gallery specialising in wool and fibre pieces by local artists; Barkly St.

Langi Morgala Museum: displays Aboriginal artefacts; Queen St.


Mt Buangor State Park The park features the Fern Tree Waterfalls and the 3 impressive peaks of Mt Buangor, Mt Sugarloaf and Cave Hill. Its diverse terrain with many varieties of eucalypts offers great sightseeing, bushwalking and picnicking. There are more than 130 species of birds, as well as eastern grey kangaroos, wallabies and echidnas. Contact Parks Victoria on 13 1963. Access to the southern section is via Ferntree Rd off the Western Hwy; 30 km E. Mt Buangor and Cave Hill can be accessed from the main Mt Cole Rd in the Mt Cole State Forest.

Garden Gully Winery: hosts a scarecrow competition each Apr, with ingenious entries from across the state scattered through the vineyard; 17 km N on Western Hwy. Many more of the region's wineries can be accessed on the Great Grape Rd, a circuit through Ballarat and St Arnaud. This region is famous for sparkling whites and traditional old shiraz varieties; brochure and map from visitor centre.

Green Hill Lake: great for fishing and water activities; 4 km E.

McDonald Park Wildflower Reserve: an extensive display of flora indigenous to the area, including wattles and banksias, impressive during the spring months; 5 km N on Western Hwy.

One Tree Hill Lookout: 360-degree views across the region; 5 km NW.

Langi Ghiran State Park: Mt Langi Ghiran and Mt Gorrin form the key features of this park. A popular walk starts at the picnic area along Easter Creek, then goes to the Old Langi Ghiran Reservoir and along the stone water race to a scenic lookout; access via Western Hwy, Kartuk Rd; 14 km E.

Mt Cole State Forest: adjoins Mt Buangor State Park, with bushwalking, horseriding, 4WD tracks and trail-bike riding. The Ben Nevis Fire Tower offers spectacular views; 35 km E.

Fishing spots near town

Lake Wartook 48 km

Drought and changes to irrigation have left dry many of Victoria’s former favourite fishing lakes. Drive through the cropping plains of the Wimmera and you come across once-famous lakes, including Toolondo,... Find out more

Lake Bolac 50 km

One of my favourite fishing activities after a hot summer day is to wander along the banks of the Barwon River in Geelong, casting lures for redfin. Redfin are feisty, competitive fish that bite readily and taste great.... Find out more

Eco-friendly activities around town

Indigenous tours, Grampians National Park 38 km

Brambuk, the Grampians National Park and Cultural Centre, houses an Aboriginal cultural centre explaining much of the history and stories associated with the area. There is also a bushfoods cafe, where you can try emu,... Find out more

Grampians National Park 48 km

There are many, many reasons to go to this remarkable 1680-square-kilometre national park: its spectacular spring wildflowers, its dramatic cliffs and sandstone features, its bushwalking, the stunning views from its... Find out more

Golden Nugget Discovery Tours, Ballarat 88 km

This carbon-neutral business in Ballarat runs small, personalised tours of no more than six people in the Goldfields region, with three themes – wild nature, gold history and heritage, and food and wine.... Find out more

Cafes & restaurants around town

Nectar Ambrosia

This former pub was the tallest building outside of Melbourne when it was built in 1859. Today it has been transformed into a smart eatery and produce store championing local produce from olives to sheep’s milk... Find out more

Campsites around town

Greenhill Lake Reserve camping area 5 km

The campsites here on the shoreline of Greenhill Lake are relatively flat, and there’s reasonable shade. From the centre of Ararat, drive for 4 km along the Western Hwy towards Beaufort and turn north on Greenhill... Find out more

Langi Ghiran camping area 15 km

This camping area is equipped with picnic tables where you can have a long lunch among the candlebark gums. Afterwards, take a slow, pleasant drive south along the Langi Ghiran Track, which links up with several walking... Find out more

Bush camping (walk-in camping) 16 km

Bush camping is permitted in the mountainous section of the park. Hidden Lagoon, which lies between Mt Langi Ghiran and the slightly shorter Mt Gorrin, is a popular spot for off-track hiking. Make sure you’re... Find out more

Chinamans camping area 24 km

Birdwatchers are very fond of the 5 km Borella Walk that leads north from Chinamans camping area to Ben Nevis, due to the 120-plus species that fly around the forest. This walk has a couple of steep sections, so allow... Find out more

Mugwamp camping area 27 km

Mugwamp is in the centre of Mt Cole State Forest, near Mugwamp Creek. It’s on the Beeripmo Walk – a decent stretch of the walk to the south, beyond the Beerimpo camping area, detours through the eastern... Find out more

Ferntree camping area 28 km

Ferntree is located in the centre of the park and has only 5 sites for campers, arrayed alongside the picnic ground. Take the short nature walk from here to the Ferntree Waterfalls, wander over to the Sugarloaf... Find out more

Bomjinna camping area 28 km

Secluded Bomjinna, accessed via Mitchell Rd, has only three campsites, making it a peaceful place to rest up for the night. From here, loop back around to Grampians Rd and then head down Mt William Rd to tackle the hike... Find out more

Beeripmo camping area (walk-in camping) 28 km

‘Beeripmo’ is an Aboriginal word that means ‘wild mount’, referring to Mt Cole in the south of the forest. This is an overnight stop for hikers doing the 21 km, 2-day Beeripmo Walk, which starts... Find out more

Middle Creek camping area 29 km

If you’re part of a large group, or are towing a caravan or camper trailer, head for relatively flat ground at Middle Creek. You can walk right across the park from here. A particularly steep and demanding trail is... Find out more

Bush camping 29 km

Bush camping is allowed within the forest. Contact ranger for details.... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

Lake Fyans Holiday Park 30 km

This is a spacious waterfront park on the shores of Lake Fyans, a popular watersports area to the south-west of Stawell. The park has a cafe and canoes for hire. It is just a short drive to nearby Halls Gap and is an... Find out more

Halls Gap Caravan and Tourist Park 40 km

We find this large park ideal for a holiday at any time of the year and regularly stay here. Located in the centre of town, it is within easy reach of most of the area’s attractions and makes a good base for... Find out more

Big4 Grampians Parkgate Resort 40 km

This is a very good quality tourist park less than 1.5 km from Halls Gap. With great recreational facilities including a tennis court, this is a popular holiday destination and a great base from which to explore the... Find out more

BIG4 Ballarat Windmill Holiday Park 81 km

This well-established, quality park is in a quiet rural area 6 km west of the city on the old Western Highway. It has a great range of facilities including a spa, sauna and tennis court. Bookings are required at Easter... Find out more

Wimmera Lakes Caravan Resort 87 km

This is a spacious park on the fringe of Horsham, 4 km south-east of town on the Western Highway. It has a range of facilities including a tennis court and spa. It is a good base for exploring the local area. Bookings... Find out more

Eco-friendly places to stay around town

Grampians Eco YHA 40 km

At this eco-hostel you sleep under roof tiles that are actually solar panels. Any extra power generated is fed back to the electricity grid. The passive solar building, featuring rammed earth walls, also has solar... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Greenhill Lake camping area 5 km

4km E of Ararat (L) or 40km W of Beaufort (R)

Well off the highway on the shores of the lake.

Langi Ghiran camping area 15 km

T/O 13km E of Ararat (L) or 31km W of Beaufort (R)

Secluded area 5km (unsealed) north of the highway in a natural bush setting in Langi Ghiran State Park.

Mount Langi Ghiran rest area 17 km

17km E of Ararat (L)

Just off the highway among a few trees. For eastbound only.

Great Western rest area 17 km

At Great Western

Just off the highway among a few trees. On the north side of town.

Bailes camping area 28 km

T/O 32km SE of Ararat (L) or 12km NW of Beaufort (R)

Secluded area 9km (unsealed) north of the highway in the forest of Mt Buangor State Park.

Middle Creek camping area 29 km

T/O 32km SE of Ararat (L) or 12km NW of Beaufort (R)

Secluded in the forest 8km (unsealed) north of the highway in Mt Buangor State Park.

Borough Huts camping area 35 km

T/O at Stawell to Halls Gap

Small area in Grampians National Park located 11km south of Halls Gap via Grampians Rd. Good facilities and shade in a natural bush setting. 

Canadian Gully Bushland Reserve rest area 37 km

57km SE of Horsham (L) or 10km NW of Stawell (R)

Just off the highway under some large trees on the edge of a lagoon.

Plantation camping area 44 km

T/O to Halls Gap

Large area in a natural bush setting in Grampians National Park. Located 10km (unsealed) north of Halls Gap via Mt Zero Rd.

Lake Bolac rest area 46 km

2km E of Lake Bolac (R) or 49km W of Skipton (L)

Just off the highway under trees on the shores of the lake.

Fishermans Point camping area 46 km

T/O 3km E of Lake Bolac (R) or 48km W of Skipton (L)

On the shores of the lake 500m south of the highway.

Wickliffe park area 48 km

At Wickliffe

Adjacent to the highway. In the middle of town.

East Beach camping area 49 km

T/O 3km E of Lake Bolac (R) or 48km W of Skipton (L)

On the shores of the lake 3km south of the highway.

Picnic Point camping area 49 km

T/O at Lake Bolac

Under shady trees on the shores of the lake 2km south-east of the highway via Mortlake and Frontage rds.

Smith Mill camping area 49 km

T/O to Halls Gap

In a natural bush setting in Grampians National Park. Located 18km north-west of Halls Gap via Nothern Grampians (Mt Victory), Lake Wartook and Old Mill rds.

No. 2 Creek rest area 54 km

59km S of St Arnaud (L) or 3km N of Avoca (R)

Just off the highway among a few trees.

Troopers Creek camping area 54 km

T/O to Halls Gap

Small area 42km (partly unsealed) north-west of Halls Gap via Northern Grampians  and Roses Gap rds.

Lexton South Rest Area 55 km

27 km S of Avoca (L) or 43 km N of Ballarat (R)

Large area just off the highway. Only limited shade.

Nine Mile Creek rest area 55 km

41km E of Hamilton (R) or 33km W of Lake Bolac (L)

Just off the highway under some large trees.

Teddington Reservoir camping area 57 km

T/O at Stuart Mill

Secluded in the forest 6km (partly unsealed) south-west of Stuart Mill via Teddington Rd.

Buandik camping area 58 km

T/O 38km N of Cavendish (L) or 67km S of Horsham (R)

Secluded bush setting 9km (unsealed) east of the highway in Grampians National Park.

Stuart Mill South rest area 61 km

28km S of St Arnaud (R) or 34km N of Avoca (L)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

Stapylton camping area 63 km

T/O to Halls Gap

Large area in Grampians National Park. Located 48km (partly unsealed) north-west of Halls Gap via Northern Grampians and Olive Plantation rds.

Cherrypool rest area 69 km

55km N of Cavendish (R) or 50km S of Horsham (L)

Just off the highway on the banks of a river. 

Hynes Reservoir camping area 73 km

T/O 41km N of Cavendish (L) or 64km S of Horsham (R)

Near the reservoir 9km west of the highway via Hynes Rd.

Deep Lake camping area 75 km

T/O at Derrinallum

Large grassed area among trees on the edge of the lake. Located 4km north of the highway via Chatsworth Rd.

Woady Yaloak Creek rest area 77 km

26km E of Skipton (L) or 6km W of Smythesdale (R)

Surrounded by scrub just off the highway.

Smythesdale camping area 78 km

At Smythesdale

Secluded and shady setting 500m north of the highway via Gardens St.

Derrinallum park area 78 km

At Derrinallum

Adjacent to the highway, in the middle of town.

Lake Green rest area 79 km

12km SE of Horsham (R) or 55km NW of Stawell (L)

Adjacent to the highway and overlooking Lake Green.

What's on around town

Jailhouse Rock Festival: Mar.

Australian Orchid Festival: Sept.

Golden Gateway Festival: held over 10 days; Oct.

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