We’ve got a little artist in our family. A budding conservationist and activist, too. William Ricketts would have been so proud. Almost as proud as me, I’d guess.

William Ricketts was an Australian sculptor and potter, and the perfect role model for our Fairy Princess. His philosophy that “we are all brothers to the birds and trees” seems to fit her own mantra a little too perfectly, especially considering she’s only seven. That’s not to mention that his sculpture style appeals to her in the deepest of ways.

The Fairy Princess isn’t my biological daughter but even people who know us well sometimes forget this. She’s the creative, compassionate little mini-hippy that could only have been born to me. As a step-parent, you can imagine how beautiful a feeling this is.

William Ricketts Sanctuary - Dandenong Ranges National Park - Victoria
I’ve been meaning to visit William Ricketts Sanctuary for a long time when we finally bring the kids along. It’s very fitting that my first visit would be with my soul daughter.

As soon as we step inside the Sanctuary’s gates, an eerie calm washes over us. Even the kids stroll around solemnly taking in the (more than 90) sculptures, which seem as much a part of this rainforest as the giant tree ferns do.

Need to Know

Length: approx. 800 metres
Time: 1 hr
Grade: Easy / Grade 1 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style Circuit.
Region: Melbourne.
Park: Dandenong Ranges National Park
Car Access: From Melbourne, head east on the Eastern Freeway (and East Link), exiting at the Ringwood Bypass (the first exit after the tunnel) which becomes Mt Dandenong Road. Follow this to a roundabout where you’ll turn right onto Mount Dandenong Tourist Road and then follow this for about 9 km to the well-signed William Ricketts Sanctuary Carpark on your left..
Public Transport Access: From the CBD, catch a train on the Belgrave Line and get off at Upper Ferntree Gully Station. From here catch the 688 bus which will stop at William Ricketts Sanctuary. The journey should take around 1.5 hours each way.
Map: A map is available in the Parks Victoria Park Note for William Ricketts Sanctuary.
Opening Hours: William Ricketts Sanctuary is open daily 10am to 4.30pm (except Christmas Day, Total Fire Ban days, or when under maintenance). If you wish to double check before making the trip, call 13 19 63.
Entry Fee: FREE (donations are appreciated).
Further Info: Wheelchair access – there are stairs but nearly the whole garden can be accessed via wheelchair.

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William Ricketts spent a lot of time with Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, where he learnt about the spirituality of the Aboriginal people. He respected their spirituality and believed that Europeans and the earth could benefit greatly from adopting their connection to mother Earth. The many sculptures that dot the tracks in his garden reflect this.

We spend about an hour strolling around the 800 metres or so of tracks. Parts of it are like a maze and the kids have a great time exploring the hidden nooks, dancing over the stepping stones and ducking under sculpture adorned archways. The track finishes at the gift shop, where the Fairy Princess buys a couple of postcards to take home and stick on her wall.

“I wanna come back here again, Neil!” she demands. “That was so beautiful!”

William Ricketts Sanctuary - Dandenong Ranges National Park - Victoria
William Ricketts Sanctuary - Dandenong Ranges National Park - Victoria
William Ricketts Sanctuary - Dandenong Ranges National Park - Victoria

Have you visited William Ricketts Sanctuary? Got it on your bucket list? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.

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