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Only two and a half hours from Melbourne, J Ward is a museum that explains the early history of the goldfield times and later, the incarceration of the criminally insane.

J Ward was a gaol from 1861 to 1886. It was built to serve the district during the Gold Rush period. In 1887, the old gaol was handed over to the Lunacy Department and housed the ‘criminally insane’ from the Victorian Prison System until 1991 when it was closed.

J Ward is the premier tourist venue in the Victorian town of Ararat, visited by more than 10,000 people annually (greater than Ararat's population).

Relive its past by taking a guided tour conducted by the Friends of J Ward volunteers. These people are passionate about J Ward's heritage. J Ward is not just dry history. The volunteers tell its story of people who lived, who broke the law, who could not help themselves, who feared and who died.

Tours of the J Ward Museum run for times daily, with extra times on Sundays and public holidays. Ghost tours run on Saturday evenings and special group tours can be arranged. Please visit the website or contact the number provided for specific times.

Content: Friends of J-Ward Inc.

Price & booking


Type Entry cost
Tour prices: adults $15, concession $13, under 16 $5
$5.00 - $15.00
Children under five free.

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  • Car park

  • Disabled access available, contact operator for details