Ararat, Victoria



Percy Appleby is believed to have moved to Ararat around 1905-6 after having spent some time in Sydney, and travelling throughout eastern Australia, performing in Brass Band concerts and championships. He found employment in Ararat as a carpenter working for a builder, Joshua Stephenson, who was the bandsmaster of the Ararat Citizens Band. It is likely that the pair had met at band competitions and Stephenson had offered Percy work in Ararat. Stephenson's business, Messrs E. Stephenson and Sons, was a leading builders and contracting company in Ararat.

Percy won 1st prize playing a Bb Baritone Solo "Linda de Chamonix" in Ararat on 31st October 1906. It was in Ararat that Percy met Emily Eliza, third daughter of William Bennett Colley (1846-1927) and his wife, Emily Elizabeth. Percy and Emily were married at St Barnabas Church in Bathurst on 1st October 1908.

After having three children in Bathurst, Percy, Emily and family moved back to Ararat where a son, Jack Bennett Appleby, was born on 9th October 1915. During this, his second sojourn in Ararat, Percy was a member of the Ararat Citizens Band and conductor of the Holy Trinity Church of England choir. An article in the National Advocate newspaper on 13th January 1916 recorded a farewall held in Percy's honour by the Ararat Citizens Band prior to his departure to Sydney, having been assigned to the Eveleight Workshops in Redern, Sydney, by the Railways Department. There is no record of Percy ever returning to Ararat.


Holy Trinity Church of England, Ararat, where Percy Appleby was the choir master

About Ararat, Victoria

Ararat is a city in south-west Victoria, about 198 kilometres (120 mi) west of Melbourne, on the Western Highway on the eastern slopes of the Ararat Hills and Cemetery Creek valley between Victoria's Western District and the Wimmera. Its urban population according to 2016 census is 8,297 and services the region of 11,752 residents across the Rural City's boundaries. It is also the home of the 2018/19 GMGA Golf Championship Final.

It is the largest settlement in the Rural City of Ararat local government area and is the administrative centre.

Ararat is nestled between several mountain ranges, including the Grampians National Park, Mount Langi Ghiran, Mount Cole, Mount Buangor, Ararat Hills Regional Park and the Pyrenees Ranges. Cemetery Creek, the valley's main catchment runs through the north of the town while Green Hill lake is on the city's eastern fringe.

Servicing visitors to the Grampians National Park and the local wine industry, tourism is a relatively small but significant industry in Ararat, employing 150 people and generating around $8 million to the economy, however its impact on the surrounding region is significant with tourists spending $270 million annually. Key tourist attractions include the Ararat Regional Art Gallery, Mount Langi Ghiran winery, tours through Aradale (Australia's largest abandoned 1800's lunatic asylum) and the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre.

The discovery of gold in 1857 during the Victorian gold rush transformed it into a boomtown which continued to prosper until the turn of the 20th century, after which it has steadily declined in population. It was proclaimed as a city on 24 May 1950. After a decline in population over the 1980s and 90s, there has been a small but steady increase in the population, and it is the site of many existing and future, large infrastructure projects, including the Hopkins Correctional Facility development project.

Ararat is named after Mount Ararat 10 kilometres south-west of the town which was named by Horatio Wills in 1841.

Prior to the European settlement of Australia, Ararat was inhabited by the Tjapwurong Indigenous Australian people. Europeans first settled in the Grampians region in the 1840s after surveyor Thomas Mitchell passed through the area in 1836. In 1841, Horatio Wills, on his way to selecting country further south, wrote in his diary, "like the Ark we rested" and named a nearby hill Mt Ararat. It is from this entry and the nearby Mount that the town takes its name. The Post Office opened 1 February 1856 although known as Cathcart until 31st August 1857.

In 1857, a party of Chinese miners en route to the Central Victorian gold fields struck gold at the Canton Lead which marked the beginning of great growth in Ararat. The Chinese community was substantial in Ararat, and the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre commemorates the history of the community.

Rapid growth brought about a municipality, which was incorporated as a borough on 24 September 1858.

Ararat became a city of asylums, with a large facility Aradale Mental Hospital was opened in 1865 and J Ward, a lunatic asylum for criminally insane (formerly the Ararat County Gaol), opened in 1887. Both have been closed but remain as significant reminders of the city's role in the treatment of mentally ill patients.




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