I was on my way to Naracoorte (via Penola) the other day. In a bit of a hurry. When I noticed a heap of activity at “Father Woods Tree”.

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The artist/sculpturer (Kevin Gilders: pictured above) is creating the attraction. Now he is hoping the local council will get behind it and advertise the location properly.

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Looks to me like Kevin Gilders is doing a great job. He seems to have a “support” group who are assisting him while he creates his “group of early settlers”. I wish him luck with obtaining support from the local council. (and I will find out more about this in the future.. and get some more/better pics..)

From Win News:

The trees are being carved to highlight significant achievements of Father Julian Tenison Woods. They’ll be officially unveiled by the Catholic Arch Bishop on May 23.

Father Woods’ Tree sits on the Riddoch Highway as trucks and cars pass it every day. It symbolises where Julian Tenison Woods used to take mass. He’s significant because he co-founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph with Mother Mary MacKillop.

Opposite the tree is a park donated by Peter Gartner’s father almost 60 years ago. “Father woods was left a little bit on the side line so he thought he was going to put him up there not in front of mother mary but up there with her,” Peter Gartner said. But the park became overgrown so Peter Gartner decided to do something about it, clearing the land of pines late last year.

See: Win TV News: Father Woods Tribute

From ABC South East South Australia:

With thousands of pilgrims set to make their way to Penola ahead of Mary MacKillop’s canonisation, the community is taking the opportunity to honour the man who helped pioneer education for all.

Father Julian Tenison Woods was the Catholic priest of the Penola Parish in the 1860s and with the Blessed Mary MacKillop, they formed the Order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. It was this order that helped provide education to children in remote areas, a model later used across many centres and countries to provide education and help the poor and sick.

Now, the locals in Penola are planning to recognise the work of Father Woods, at the site of a tree planted in his honour. The Father Woods Tree site, north of Penola, is being renovated to include a series of sculptures made from tree stumps.

Seven tree stumps stand in the middle of the park across the road from the Father Woods Tree, which signifies where the parish priest uesd to conduct mass. These tree stumps are being sculptured into the image of Father Woods and Mary MacKillop, plus symbols of their work.

“The Father Woods park was established many years ago by the Gartner family… this is a significant place of interest,” says Father Woods’ great grand nephew Colin Woods who was in Penola last week to oversee the start of the project. “Julian Tenison Woods also had an interest in science so there will be various themes that will be added here to the park, including the wood carvings which are not only a memorial to Tenison Woods but hopefully an inspiration to younger people.”

Mr Woods says his family is excited by the months ahead with the canonisation of Mary MacKillop, which he hopes will make the public more aware of Father Julian Tenison Woods and his role in pioneering education but also his contribution to science on a world scale. “He was a scientist of some distinction particularly in the area of geology but he was well regarded in many scientific fields and also a popular lecturer and educator,” Mr Woods says.

The man employed to create the wood carvings is sculptor Kevin Gilders, who’s work is well know across a number of regional areas. Based in Melbourne, Kevin has sculptures in a number of regional area including the highly regarded Avenue of Honour carvings in Darmoor, Victoria. Although he had hoped to start slowing down from the physically demanding job of being a sculpturer, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to recognise the important historical figures.

“It’s little communities that are terrific to work with, they take it to heart and you get so much support,” he says. It’s hoped the sculptures will ready for the official rededication of the Father Woods Park in May.


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