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William Ricketts Sanctuary, A Spiritual Encounter

15/12/2016
2 mins read

Sculpture of 3 aboriginals at William Ricketts Sanctuary in Mt Dandenong in amongst treesSituated in the ferny glade of the Mt Dandenong’s, the William Ricketts Sanctuary is an outdoor gallery that reveals an intriguing perception on the Aboriginal Culture. William Ricketts’ life-long devotion to his extraordinary artwork has produced a unique experience for us all to enjoy. The mystical sculptures that weave through the forest setting, creates a beautifully tranquil environment. The themes in his artwork align with his philosophies of connections with humans, nature and earth. The sanctuary is a four-acre gallery, featuring 92 ceramic sculptures of native animals and aboriginal people. Ricketts’ artistic inspiration was drawn from his experience living in indigenous communities in Central Australia. His aim was to create a place for quiet reflection and replenishment of the spirit, as well as depicting his feelings towards the devastation that the white settlement had on aborigines and their culture.

Key Information

  • 1 hour drive from Melbourne
  • William Ricketts Sanctuary is managed by Parks Victoria but is FREE to visit
  • Open every day from 10AM-4:30PM
  • The 500m walk is slightly uphill but not challenging

3 aboriginal boys sculpted by William Ricketts

At first glance, the sculptures are almost eerie due to their life-like features, but, as you wander further down the track, you start to appreciate William Ricketts’ emotional and spiritual attachment to Australia’s original settlers. Ricketts devoted his entire life and life savings to create these quirky and surreal sculptures. William wished to express his ideology that ‘everything in and on the earth belonged to it, and that we, and all living things, are one life’.

William Ricketts and an aboriginal sculpted on a cross

Ricketts used natural elements to communicate the heartache and desolation the Aboriginals experienced. The presence of running water portrays the constant flow of life, and the woman surrounded by many children represents the strength in the essence of motherhood. Ricketts has also sculptured himself throughout the gallery in many different forms and dispositions, to convey his commitment to the Aboriginals, nature and everything living thing on this earth, pleading that everyone should ‘cherish all life’.

Essence of Motherhood sculpture inside the William Ricketts Sanctuary

The William Ricketts Sanctuary is currently run by Parks Victoria and continues to be a completely free activity. The walk through the sanctuary is only 500m in total, is well maintained and is not challenging. Make it a day and experience the passion and dedication William Ricketts inflicted into his incredible artwork. Pay close attention to the ominous expressions of each sculpture as Ricketts portrayed each mother, child, father or animal as raw and exposed as possible. Leave this incredible place feeling inspired and with an overwhelming sense of appreciation.

Looking for another unique experience in Victoria? You might also like the Redwood Forest in Warburton.

My Country is sculpted here amongst thick green moss at William Ricketts Sanctuary

How to get to the William Ricketts Sanctuary

  1. Use the address: 1412 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Mount Dandenong 3767 
  2. Upon nearing your destination, begin to slow down as the access for the car park is quite hidden.
  3. Park in the dedicated car park opposite the sanctuary
  4. Cross Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd and arrive at the location

William Ricketts Sanctuary arch sculpture

Want to find more hidden gems near Melbourne, Victoria? Search The Trail and follow us for updates and new places on Instagram: @humble.trail

Rosie Bartle

Rain, hail or shine I love to be outdoors. I love being active and experiencing new places that can both challenge and excite me, and I’m a sucker for anywhere with an amazing view!

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