J Ward, Ararat’s Old Gaol and Lunatic Asylum
Take a guided tour of J Ward, Ararat’s Old Gaol and Lunatic Asylum. Hear stories of murderers, ghosts and mistreatment of mental illness.
J Ward is two and a half hours from Melbourne, close to the Grampians and open daily for tours by passionate Friends of J Ward volunteers. More than 10,000 people visit each year.
Tours run at 10:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm each day with extra tours at 12:00pm and 3:00pm on Sundays and Victorian public and school holidays (except Christmas Day).
J Ward started its life as a goldfields prison in 1859. When the gold ran out in the mid 1880s the prison buildings were acquired by the Lunacy Department as a temporary housing for the Criminally Insane. The County Gaol then became a ward (J Ward) of the Ararat Lunatic Asylum where the most depraved and most dangerous men in Victoria were housed in horrific conditions under the highest security.