Aradale rep­re­sents un­tapped po­ten­tial

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

If there was ever a grand project wait­ing to hap­pen then it must surely be Ararat’s his­toric Aradale ‘vil­lage’.

The for­mer psy­chi­atric hospi­tal and asy­lum, much of it built with stone, is stag­ger­ing in sheer grandeur, as­pect, his­tory and… po­ten­tial.

The pri­mary struc­tures ris­ing from within the grounds take pride of place over the Ararat land­scape.

It seems ridicu­lous that, apart from en­ter­tain­ing tours and the use of a sec­tion of the site for a wine-mak­ing train­ing cen­tre, many of the pri­mary build­ings sit dormant – all the while de­te­ri­o­rat­ing.

The ef­forts to pro­mote the his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of Aradale through spooky or in­for­ma­tive tours are a won­der­ful ex­am­ple of ini­tia­tive.

But surely this rep­re­sents only the tip of the ice­berg.

The for­mer self-con­tained psy­chi­atric hospi­tal, orig­i­nally known as Ararat Lu­natic Asy­lum, had its 150th an­niver­sary at the week­end, and has so much more to of­fer.

The state owns Aradale, in­clud­ing all of its 60-odd build­ings and has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to the peo­ple of Ararat district, the re­gion, Vic­to­ria and be­yond to ex­tract it from the too-hard bas­ket.

When you stand in the grounds and look up at the site’s grand main build­ings it is easy to un­der­stand why some chil­dren catch­ing a glimpse of the site while trav­el­ling on the Western High­way re­fer to it as the Ararat ‘cas­tle’. It is sig­nif­i­cant. Most Ararat fam­i­lies have some con­nec­tion with the for­mer asy­lum – it closed in the 1990s af­ter open­ing for pa­tients in 1865 – and Ararat Ru­ral City Coun­cil, driven by com­mu­nity ex­pec­ta­tion to see the site used in an ad­e­quate, ap­pro­pri­ate and pro­duc­tive way, has spent con­sid­er­able time and ef­fort lob­by­ing for and ex­plor­ing ideas.

But the sheer size of the site, its in­fra­struc­ture, the na­ture of the fa­cil­ity and sig­nif­i­cance of the build­ings means it is a project prob­a­bly well be­yond lo­cal govern­ment level.

Let’s not beat around bush.

Es­ti­mates are that to bring the build­ings up to scratch might cost some­where be­tween $50-mil­lion and $60-mil­lion.

But as the en­ter­pris­ing tourism-based his­tor­i­cal and ghost tours of the site have re­vealed, there are lots of ways to skin a cat.

Aradale is a state as­set of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance – it is one of only three of its type ever built – and while, in many ways it had a dark past, surely it can present a bright fu­ture.

To do noth­ing at state and even fed­eral lev­els would be an act of his­toric neg­li­gence and we need ideas to al­low this un­tapped jewel to sparkle. the

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.