Ararat’s most famous tourist attraction, J Ward, turns 160 years old this month. Construction began in 1859 with the facility opening as The Ararat County Jail in October 1861. It was later used as a maximum security psychiatric ward for the criminally insane and eventually closed its doors in 1991.
J Ward is now a museum that provides an insight into conditions for 19th century psychiatric patients and prisoners. The building stands eerily intact, with 19th century medical devices and other relics on display.
Friends of J Ward operate historical tours throughout the week, which give visitors an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the people who lived and worked in the establishment.
If you are feeling brave, you can join Ararat’s oldest and most popular ghost tour with Lantern Ghost Tours. Tours operate in the evening and include access to the museum followed by a ghost tour of the home of notorious criminals including Chopper Read, Gary Webb and William Wallace.
Tours explore the original cells, hangman's gallows, kitchen, shower block, grave sites, Governor’s bathroom West Wing, J Ward Block, exercise yards and grounds in search of the souls that still linger. Lantern Ghost Tours’ founder, Jacqueline Travaglia, says “We are proud to work with Friends of J Ward to share the venue’s unique history. Our guests travel from far and wide including interstate and Melbourne to explore J Ward and the greater community of Ararat. We are thrilled to be able to promote not only J Ward but the entire Grampians Region through our tours”.
VENUE: J Ward, Girdlestone Street, Ararat, Victoria| BOOKING ESSENTIAL, PLACES STRICTLY
LIMITED GHOST TOUR DATES: Selected Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year. Private Tours any day on request.
TO BOOK: www.araratasylums.com 1300 390 119
About Lantern Ghost Tours: Be incarcerated in a lunatic asylum, visit an abandoned morgue or be a ghost hunter for the night. Lantern Ghost Tours run a multi-award winning ghost tours in Australia and the UK's most haunted locations. They are WINNERS of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, RACV Tourism Award Finalists and Telstra Australia Business Awards Finalists. www.lanternghosttours.com