The William Ricketts Sanctuary in Mount Dandenong is a lovely place with fascinating sculptures. This sculpture park is one of the most inspiring places on the mountain.
It was made by the sculptor and potter William Ricketts who had great respect for the natural world. He was inspired by the Aboriginal people and their spirituality. Ricketts started his work in 1934 and worked on it until his death. Between 1949 and 1960, he lived with the Arrente and Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal people and learned about their traditions and culture.
Today, 92 major sculptures of these tribes can be seen at the park. They are half-hidden in the rocks and the trees of the forest. At the entrance, there are two magnificent sculptures of Aboriginal Elders who emerge from the boulders. Other sculptures of Ricketts can be seen at the bird sanctuary Pitchi Ritchi in Alice Springs which is run by Leo Corbet who was his friend.
When he started his work, the name of the park was Potter’s Sanctuary, but after his death, it became known as William Ricketts Sanctuary. The park became very popular, and in the 1960s it was open to the public when the Australian government purchased the acres.
It is a place where man’s spirit becomes one with nature. Ricketts’s plea was to protect Mother Nature and to respect the human values. In these modern times, all around the world, people become less spiritual, and they live in constant stress in their everyday lives.
William’s point was to show how the Aboriginal people can connect with what the earth has given to them and that is why he placed the sculptures in a forest on Mount Dandenong.
He also went to India in 1970 where he spent two years at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram spiritual center in Puducherry learning about their culture and traditions. People who knew him described him as a kind and quiet person who believed that Australia should adopt the philosophies of these tribes.
Some of his works depict his feelings about the devastation of the natural environment by the European settlers. Today, tourists frequently visit this beautiful sanctuary and wander through its peaceful grounds. Rickett’s house and former studios are in the park, while inside the house the visitors can watch a documentary about his work.