A series of seven sculptures sit atop tree stumps in the middle of Father Woods Park to recognise the work done by Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods in the southeast region of South Australia. Situated approximately 20 kilometres north of Penola on the Riddoch Highway, the park marks the location where Father Woods used to meditate, prepare sermons and celebrate mass. A huge car park, as well as some picnic facilities, are available at the park.
Father Woods was a pioneering Catholic priest who ministered in the South Eastern District for ten years during the mid 1800s. He often rode on horseback across his 56,000 square kilometre parish attending to all spiritual needs.
Besides being a devoted priest, he was also an eminent scientist of his day. He successfully combined his priestly duties with his geological work while ministering. He even received a prestigious award for science in 1888.
As an educator, Father Woods co-founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph with Mary MacKillop at Penola. Both the sisters and him played a crucial role in the establishment of Catholic education in Australia opening a number of schools right across the country.
Each sculpture depicts an aspect of the life of Father Woods. Sculptor Kevin Gilders used chain saws to create the original carvings and since then some restoration work has been carried out by disabled artist Anthony 'Ant' Martin. These intricate works of art are worth having a look at next time you're in the Limestone Coast. And, while you're there, feel free to write a few words of appreciation in their visitors' book.