After a short drive around Lake Burrumbeet and along the Western Highway, we arrived at our next camp – Green Hill Lake. Originally called Warrayatkin Swamp, it was deepened and cleared into a recreational reserve by volunteers, local council, and prisoners from the nearby gaol.
It is great that local communities provide these types of facilities. We had a drive along the campsites, and still being a long weekend there were many others there. Located about 4 km from Ararat, Green Hill Lake is an area of 260 hectarces, so there were many sites to chose from. We found one right on the water, other campers said someone had left this site earlier in the day. This is a donation camp and has hot showers in the amenities block, which we were not far from, and provides fishing, swimming, and boating. Potable water is available in a few spots, and the dump point is easily accessible in Ararat. We even saw a camper with chickens in a coop, so he gets his fresh eggs – great idea. We did see some BBQ's around the lake and there is a playground and a couple of boat ramps.
We had a drive around the town. The house where Matthew Lynn lived is no longer there, but the house across the road was probably what the Lynn house looked liked. We ended up at the information centre located in the old railway station. We met a lovely fellow, Grant who was most helpful and told us a lot of history. He gave us a historic walk and drive booklet, and suggested a few places to look at so off to the lookout we went. One Tree Hill lookout forms the western boundary of Ararat. It has a monument in memory of the pioneers of the district, and transmission towers. We also went to Alexandra Gardens, and were keen to look at the Asian Garden. We had high expectations when we walked across the bridge to the Asian Garden island, but I think it is still a work in progress. It will look really beautiful and tranquil when complete and maintained. We had a walk around the park. It is approximately 800 metres around the lake and there is a cafe located in an old section of the garden with an interesting water feature – sadly no water. The land was put aside as a botanical garden in 1860 and early work was done by prisoners of the nearby gaol. Today there are play areas, bbq's, herb garden, and a swimming pool. It is close to the shopping areas.
The area was first inhabited by the Tjapwurrong people. European settlement began in the 1840's in the Grampions, which we will visit. Major Thomas Mitchell surveyed the area in 1836, and in 1841, while taking stock south, Horatio Spencer Wills stopped to camp by a large mountain. He wrote in his diary 'like the Art, we rested' and he named the mountain Mt Ararat. The Town Hall was originally converted market sheds in the 1860's and they were demolished to make way for the current Town Hall in 1899. It was built in the Roman Revival style by James Irwin, who later became Mayor. Externally little has been changed. Internally, changes were made to accommodate more of today's offices and an art gallery.
The fountain in the front of the Town Hall is a memorial to the Boer War. Most of the buildings are from the late 1890's and early 1900's. A lovely town to walk through, and it has all the shops one could want.