Sound and light show for 150th anniversary celebration of the Ararat Aradale former lunatic asylum

THE Ararat community has been invited to take part in the 150th anniversary celebrations for Aradale Mental Hospital.

On Saturday night, a sound and light show will be projected on the walls at J Ward, commencing at 9pm.

The presentation will be free and the public are in invited to come and view the event, which organisers said would be spectacular.

Celebrations are being planned to coincide with the 150th anniversary by Friends of J Ward.

A series of events will be held at Aradale on Saturday, prior to the sound and light show at J Ward, to mark 150 years since the first patients moved in. 

The format for the festivities will consist of a formal welcome at 2pm on Saturday at Aradale, with guest speakers, tours of some of the buildings with a guide, and afternoon tea.

Ararat Rural City Council mayor Paul Hooper will unveil a plaque to commemorate the 150 year milestone.

Cr Hooper said organisers have been busy putting the finishing touches of the celebrations in place.

“Friends of J Ward members have worked hard on this celebration and everyone is welcome to attend to commemorate a significant part of Ararat’s history,” he said.

Former psychiatrist superintendent of Aradale, Dr Blair Currie, will speak about his memories of the institution,

Historian Graeme Burgin will present a history of Aradale and Eddie Smith will also speak about ‘My family and me’.

Tours of Aradale and afternoon tea will be held between 3.30-5pm.

A ticketed formal dinner will be held at J-Ward from 6.30pm.  

The celebrations will include looking back on 150 years of the history, including when work commenced on building the new hospital in 1865.

Aradale, formerly known as Ararat Lunatic Asylum, was completed in 1867 and the first patients moved in on October 19 of that year.

John James Clark, who had a great deal of input in the design of Government House in Melbourne and many other buildings of the era, was credited with designing the hospital.

Aradale became a major centre for the treatment of mental health issues and was also a major training hospital.

At the peak of its operation in 1959, the institution housed approximately 900 patients and close to 500 staff. It closed on December 10, 1993.

Melbourne Polytechnic University now leases the building from the state government.

Friends of J ward run historical tours of Aradale on Wednesdays and Sundays, while Eerie Ghost Tours host night time ghost tours on Fridays and Saturdays as well as day tours on Saturdays.