J Ward is now open for fully vaccinated visitors. You will be required to present proof of vaccination upon entry. Online bookings are preferred as group sizes are limited.


These are some of the many stories you may hear on a guided tour of J Ward.

The Infamous Garry Webb

Another story told on the display panels is about the infamous Gary Webb. Webb apparently had a long career in crime but the part of his life we are interested in started in Rye on the Mornington Peninsula.

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Another Story for the Birds

Roughly in the centre of the back yard, along the east line of fence near the present toilet block, there once stood an aviary. There were apparently some quite exotic birds in this aviary. On the floor of the cages were sheet metal trays filled with sand to catch the bird droppings.

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Pumpkin Soup

In the early days of growing vegetables one particular patient was in charge of the pumpkin patch, but he was a J Ward patient, and his subsequent behaviour might give an indication why.

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J Ward wins Victorian Museum Award

Friends of J Ward recently received a 2019 Victorian Museum Award for their volunteer work in establishing and maintaining J Ward as a museum and an on-going tourist destination. The award was presented on 26 June 2019 at NGV International.

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Time Capsule Opening, 21 April 2019

Buried in 1994, the J Ward time capsule was opened at 2:30pm on Sunday 21 April 2019.

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The Women of Old Ararat Gaol and J Ward Asylum

Jacqui Sanders explores the lives of the women who were imprisoned in Old Ararat Gaol and the J Ward Asylum during the nineteenth century.

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The County Gaol turned Lunatic Asylum

J Ward started its life as a goldfields prison in 1859.

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The ghost of Governor Fiddimont

George Fiddimont was the last Governor of the gaol.

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George Leondieu, dangerous and delusional

George was sent to J Ward in the 1950’s for allegedly killing a man who made homosexual advances to him.

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