A short drive outside of Melbourne in the pine forests of Mt Dandenong is a fantasy kingdom and one man's life-work in sculpture.

The William Ricketts Sanctuary holds 92 sculptures and characters which seemingly grow out of the landscape. All of which were made by one man: William Ricketts, whose six decades of artworks adorn the forest park.

The park is full of almost 100 of Ricketts' pieces and buildings. Photo / Chris Haych, Flikr.com
The park is full of almost 100 of Ricketts' pieces and buildings. Photo / Chris Haych, Flikr.com

40 km east out Melbourne, Ricketts arrived at the property in 1934. As a gifted sculptor in clay, he bought a four acre plot to pursue his talent.

On this land he spent time with the Arrente and Pitjantjatjara indigenous people. These people influenced his work and philosophy as he became a steward for the land.

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William Ricketts Sanctuary: Off the road of Mt Dandenong. Photo / Chris Haych, Flickr.com
William Ricketts Sanctuary: Off the road of Mt Dandenong. Photo / Chris Haych, Flickr.com

His indigenous Australian neighbours became subjects for his work, many of which you can see scattered throughout the sculpture trail.

Today almost one hundred of his clay works can be seen in the grottos and stone faces of the reserve including a sculpture of Ricketts himself, growing out of a fern as a lyrebird totem.

The Arrente and Pitjantjatjara feature in the park sculptures. Photo / flikr.com, dream_in_the_dark_of_day
The Arrente and Pitjantjatjara feature in the park sculptures. Photo / flikr.com, dream_in_the_dark_of_day

Inspired by the sculpture trail, in the 1960s the Victoria Government bought the land for public use. Ricketts remained working on the land and his sculptures right up until his death in 1993.

Sculpture of Ricketts growing out of a fern as a lyrebird totem. Photo / Nils Versemann, Getty Images
Sculpture of Ricketts growing out of a fern as a lyrebird totem. Photo / Nils Versemann, Getty Images

"Each one of us is a transformer of Divine Power and when love finds form in sculpture and music we are richly blessed because through such we can reach God… Man is nature's masterpiece, therefore claim your inheritance by giving her the co-operation you owe." – William Ricketts

Sculpture trail: 1960s the Victoria Government bought the land for public use. Photo / Chris Haych, Flikr.com
Sculpture trail: 1960s the Victoria Government bought the land for public use. Photo / Chris Haych, Flikr.com

Getting there:

Take Canterbury Road from Melbourne to Montrose, then follow the Mt. Dandenong Touist Road.