William Ricketts Sanctuary

Site closure: This site is temporarily closed to visitors as a public health precaution in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is a rapidly changing situation. For up-to-date information on affected visitor sites, visit www.parks.vic.gov.au/COVID19. 

Cruise out to Mount Dandenong and spend a few quiet hours in the peaceful surrounds of the world-renowned William Ricketts Sanctuary. Located in a ferny glade off the tourist road, the sanctuary is home to more than 90 evocative sculptures, many of Aboriginal people, which lie half-hidden in the trees, rocks and undergrowth of the native forest.

Indigenous connections

Influenced by his time living in Aboriginal communities in central Australia, William Ricketts believed everyone should respect the inherent spirituality of the natural world. Many of his sculptural works reflect his commitment to this ideal, while others depict his response to the effect the European settlers’ had on the environment.

Faces in the trees

Take the time to explore the sanctuary grounds, wandering through the paths that criss-cross the property. See the striking sculptures, carved into rocks and trees show that show the local aboriginal peoples’ strong and ancient connection to the land.

Check out the audio-visual display to learn about the history and get an insight into the passion and vision of William Ricketts.

Travel safe

Weather and travel conditions can change quickly. Always check the local weather conditions and current bushfire information on the Parks Victoria website before you visit.



Address: Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Mount Dandenong, Victoria, 3767

Official Website: https://visitdandenongranges.com.au/activity/william-ricketts-sanctuary
Cost: See Website
Open Hours: See Website



William Ricketts (1898–1993) was an Australian potter and sculptor of the arts and crafts movement.

Born in Richmond, Victoria, in 1898, William settled permanently in Mount Dandenong, Victoria, in 1934. Although not trained as a potter and never technically superior (his works, large and small, frequently exhibit cracking), the power of his vision of a modern Australia that embraces Aboriginal spirituality and respect for the natural world was his general message throughout his artworks.

His major works include the “Dromana” in the Seawinds Garden, Arthurs Seat, Victoria, and “Gun Brute” at the William Ricketts Sanctuary, Mount Dandenong, Victoria. Many smaller works are in the collection of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Photographic records of his sculptures, particularly those from the sanctuaries of Pitchi Richi and Mount Dandenong, which have been vandalised, are held in the archives of Australia’s libraries. Ricketts, never rich, supported himself through commissioned sales of his art and made pieces as gifts. These signed original small pieces are increasingly sought after for private collections.

From 1949 to 1960 he made frequent trips into Central Australia to live with Pitjantjatjara and Arrernte Aboriginal Australians, whose traditions and culture inspired his sculpture. He was not an Aboriginal by blood but considered himself adopted by the Pitjantjatjara nation. He left many of his central Australian works at Pitchi Richi near Alice Springs – a bird sanctuary run by his friend Leo Corbet – as he considered the landscape integral to these sculptures.

From 1912 to 1920 Ricketts developed skills in playing violin, crafting jewellery, and clay modelling. In 1934 he started his major artistic work, creating the sculpture park now named William Ricketts Sanctuary. He worked on this project until his death in 1993. In the 1970s, he spent two years in India, mostly at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram spiritual center in Puducherry, developing spiritual empathy with Indian people and knowledge of their philosophy.

William Ricketts Sanctuary

Ricketts’ major work is in the sculpture park that he named Potter’s sanctuary, but which is now known as William Ricketts Sanctuary. In the 1960s the Government of Victoria bought the Sanctuary from Ricketts, and made it a public park. Ricketts lived there until his death in 1993.


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