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J. Ward Museum Complex Ararat, Victoria

J Ward is a museum that explains the early history of the goldfield times and later, the incarceration of the criminally insane.

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.

The Ward was closed in 1991. J Ward is now a museum complex within the original prison structure dedicated to recording and preserving the history of the criminals imprisoned and hung here during the life of the goldfields gaol and later as the infamous maximum security housing for Victoria's Criminally Insane men in a ward (J Ward) of the Ararat Mental Hospital.

The best way to see and understand J Ward is to join one of the regularly conducted Guided Tours.

There is so much to see that no two tours are exactly the same. Each of the Guides is knowledgable in the basic history of J Ward but each has a wealth of favourite true stories to tell.

You will see the place where murderers breathed their last. You will see where their bodies are buried in unconsecrated ground, supposedly in unmarked graves. You might hear the story of the notorious Garry Webb or of Bill Wallace who lived here for over sixty years and died in his 108th year. You might hear how the Chapel was built due to the efforts of William Watson Carr. You might hear of escapes or suicides or of twelve year olds incarcerated here.

You might hear none of these. There are so many stories in J Ward that people have been back four and even five times. Hours can be spent in the Museum reading early case histories and gazing in wonder at the equipment of the early days of the hospital and the arts and crafts of the patients.

Contact Information

location
Ararat Victoria (map)
phone
+61 (03) 5352 3357
Contact

Opening Hours

Tours run every day at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm. Extra tours run at 12pm and 3pm on Sundays and Vic. Public and Vic. School Holidays (except Christmas Day)

Entry Fee

Adults $15, concession $13, under 16 $5, under 5 free

Location

Ararat Victoria

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Chess Set Pieces

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Chess Set Pieces...32 in all(16 painted Gold, 16 painted Silver). Moulded in Plaster of Paris (from rubber moulds). Some pieces with green felt on base.

Tobacco Cutter

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Metal tobacco cutter (guillotine style), mounted on wooden base, with wooden striker plate.

Significance

Tobacco cutters were used at both J Ward and the Aradale complex in Ararat. They were used to cut tobacco, which was then apportioned out to patients for their consumption.

Inscriptions & Markings

A. McMILLAN inscribed on striker plate.

Muzzle-loading firearm in display case.

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Muzzle-loading firearm in display case. Case contains firearm, ram & four lead balls.

Radio Set

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Radio Set, green & white in colour, case made of plastic. Black & gold knobs.

Inscriptions & Markings

'Electrice' brand. 'Model E 516M' on rear.

Spectacles & Case

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Spectacles with metal frame,circular lenses & pink-coloured nose rests.

Haemometer

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Wooden box, covered with blue material. Components glass & plastic. Used for diagnosing blood disorders.

Inscriptions & Markings

Assistant + Logo. Haemometer. G I M geelcht

Photograph of May Day celebrations. - May Day in Ararat.

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Photograph of May Day celebrations in the Alexandra Gardens in Ararat, with J Ward buildings in background. After investigation, it was concluded that the photograph was taken on the 1st of May 1901 (the year of Federation).

Cricket Trophy 1978 - Aradale Vs Hillcrest SA

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Cricket Trophy 1978 Red wooden base with plastic model of a cricketer on top.

Inscriptions & Markings

Manufactured by Lewbury Trophies [Tilbury Lewis]

Hacksaw - Hacksaw used for autopsies

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Hacksaw with wooden handle & steel blade

Airway

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Rubber tube, curved, brown in colour...rubber perished. Metal inlet.

Diagnostic Set

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Black wooden box, fabric covered. Contains stainless steel instruments.

Inscriptions & Markings

'Gowlands' Made in England

Speculum. - Speculum

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Speculum, made of stainless steel.

Diagnostic Set

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Wooden box covered with black paper. Contains medical instruments. Has damaged lid.

Inscriptions & Markings

'Keeler' London W1 England

Retractor

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Retractor, made of stainless steel, with rubber on ends.

Inscriptions & Markings

Jetter Scheerer Germany

Surgical Instrument - Tonsil Remover

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Chrome-plated metal surgical instrument used in tonsilectomies.

Inscriptions & Markings

Medical Supply Depot

Autopsy Set

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

A number of autopsy instruments in a wooden box

Inscriptions & Markings

Instruments chrome plated

Union Poster.

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Original Union Poster from J Ward, circa 1990. Mounted in wooden frame with glass cover.

Inscriptions & Markings

HEF 2. Official Picket Line. The document was signed by staff members who formed the Picket Line.

Chloroform Mask

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Chloroform mask, stainless steel, without gauze cover.

Inscriptions & Markings

British Made.

Bird Carving

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

A red house-brick carved into the shape of a bird by a patient at j ward.

Cane Basket

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Cane green,white & natural coloured picnic type basket with metal catch & hinges. White corners and green strips are in a plastic material. The Green Handle is made of cane with plastic covering - It's 9cm high x 16cm long. Donated by John Warren, given to him by his mother who received it from a person who worked at J ward. This basket was made by an inmate in the therapy department.

Medicine Tray.

J. Ward Museum Complex, Ararat

Medicine Tray, made of hardwood & plywood. Tray has 12 holes for medicine containers.