Cathcart is a rural locality and former goldmining town 8 km south-west of Ararat, and about 190 km north-west of Melbourne. It was named after General Sir George Cathcart (1794-1854) who was killed in battle at the Crimean War.

Cathcart was the site of the earliest gold discovery (1854) in the Ararat district, and it has also been known as Old Ararat. The Cathcart village was surveyed in about 1856 and a school was opened in 1858. There were several gold workings in the Cathcart area, and the district was also developed agriculturally. It is at the headwaters of the Hopkins River.

Bailliere’s Victorian gazetteer (1865) recorded Cathcart as having three hotels, but the figure probably overstated the position by enlarging the Cathcart district. Other contemporary records state that the Cathcart rush showed only heaps of pipeclay and gravel; and the population was estimated at 200, consisting of miners, farmers and dairy workers, compared with 3000 in 1855.

Cathcart is marked by a gold monument on the Ararat-Moyston Road, and numerous old gold workings. The brick school building (1872) closed in 1950 and was converted to a private residence.

Cathcart’s census populations have been:

1871 228
1933 53
2011 251

Further Reading

Lorna Banfield, Shire of Ararat: its settlement and development 1864-1964, Shire of Ararat, 1964