Ararat’s enduring friendship with China spans more than 150 years. It reaches back in time to 1857 when Chinese prospectors stumbled upon gold while en route to the Ballarat goldfields.
In 1994, this relationship was formalised with Ararat Rural City entering into a Sister City agreement with Taishan in China’s Guangdong Province. This is the region from where most of the original Chinese prospectors originated.
The signing of the official document was carried out in Taishan by Mr Chen Jhou Jun, Mayor of Taishan and Cr Patrick McAloon, then Mayor of Ararat. Mr Henry Gunstone was elected head of this Committee and has served in this capacity ever since.
In 2000, the Taishan Government donated 56,000 tiles to Ararat Rural City for the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre.
In 2004, returned this kindness with a $10,000 donation to erect a ‘friendship stone’ in Taishan commemorating 10 years of friendship. More than 90 people travelled from Ararat to Taishan to witness the historic unveiling of the friendship stone.
The majestic Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre pays homage to Ararat’s historic links with China. This multi-million dollar facility is a replica of a traditional Southern Chinese building.
Over the years, many Ararat student groups have visited China. They have the opportunity to return the hospitality, with Taishan students also visiting Ararat on occasion. These visits have been arranged in the spirit of building strong relationships between children in a bid to strengthen future relations.
Trade delegations have also been hosted in both China and Ararat, paving the way for fruitful trade arrangements into the future.
Council believes its relationship with Taishan represents one of the most progressive Sister City agreements in Australia.
Chinese Teacher Exchange
Each year a teacher exchange takes place, with teachers from Ararat and Taishan exchanging places. This program has helped to cement the strong alliance between the two Cities.
Chinese teachers who have stayed in Ararat over the past 11 years are: Frank Lei, Derek Zhu, Joan Xie, Charlie Chen, Sally Li, Sandy Huang, King Weng, June Yang, Helen Li, Roger Peng and Betty Huang. The most recent Exchange Teacher, Betty Huang is pictured with Council's Community Services Coordinator, Henry Gunstone.