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Located in the foothills of the Grampians and surrounded by vineyards and stunning natural attractions, Ararat is the only Australian town to have been founded by the Chinese who flocked to Victoria during the gold rush. The town retains the impressive architecture of the era, as well as beautiful orchids and the fine wines of local vineyards. Take a stroll on one of the many walking trails in the Grampians National Park, Mount Langi Ghiran and Mount Cole. Explore Ararat's gold heritage with a walk through the town, past impressive gold rush era buildings, some of which have been recognised by the National Trust. You can find out more about Ararat's unique past with a visit to the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre and the Langi Morgala Museum. Wander through beautiful Alexandra Gardens, which features the famous orchid glasshouse, or view unusual exhibits of fibre and textile art at the Ararat Regional Art Gallery. For something unusual, inspect J Ward, formerly Victoria's asylum for the criminally insane. Visit Ararat for the annual Jailhouse Rock Festival then venture further afield to explore the Grampians National Park or nearby Mount Langi Ghiran, Mt Cole and Mt Buangor. Take a tour of the pioneering Challicum Hills wind farm, meet the winemaker at one of the region's wineries, or play a round of golf at the Chalambar Golf Club. Ararat is approximately 2.5 hours from Melbourne via the Western or Pyrenees highways.