Woods Sculptures

During his ten years as parish priest for the 57,000 square kilometre South Eastern district, Father Woods often stayed with Donald and Catherine McArthur on the original Limestone Ridge Station, where he meditated and prepared sermons under a large red gum known as Father Woods Tree.

The park was established on land donated to the Archdiocese of Adelaide by Mr Jack Gartner as a memorial in recognition of the work done by Father Woods. It was blessed by Archbishop Matthew Beovich on 8 August 1951.

In 2010, through the foresight of Peter and Michael Gartner, chainsaw sculptor Kevin Gilders transformed pine tree trunks into a series of sculptures depicting Woods as a bush priest, good citizen, scientist and explorer, founder and educator. On 23 May Archbishop Philip Wilson blessed the sculptures and re-dedicated the park as a place of pilgrimage, prayer and contemplation.

Since then thousands of people have visited the park and learned more about this remarkable man who, prior to his departure from Penola in 1866, said:

‘If ever any people deserve gratitude…at the hands of another, the settlers of the South Eastern District deserve it from me. I have received kindness from one and all…[during] a residence of ten happy years of many sunny memories…

Our experience in life tells us that it is the circumstances and the people that make our happiness in the sphere into which we are thrown. If it be so, how much do I owe to the people of the bush.’