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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

A person with passion always leaves a legacy (Day 160)

Dandenongs is a very special place, especially the William Rickett Sanctuary, and a man full of passion and love for nature and mother earth. He certainly has left a legacy.

We’ve hired a car for a few days. On our list of what to visit is the William Ricketts Sanctuary, situated in a beautiful ferny glade with many towering gum trees in the Dandenongs. I went 28 years ago, but it was pouring with rain and a very quick visit.

William Rickett was born in 1898 from humble beginnings. He got interested in pottery and in 1935 purchased several acres of bush land in Dandenongs for A$50 as his artist’s retreat calling it Potter's Sanctuary. He became known not just for his extraordinary pottery but also as an Aboriginal and ecological spiritualist, however he believed his talent was put into his hands as “Weapons of the spirit” by his Creator.

We parked up just as a few drops of rain fell, luckily only for a few moments, then walked across the road to this mystical place. Rickett’s beautiful clay sculptures are mainly of aboriginal people intertwined with plants and small native marsupials weathered with moss and algae and embedded into the rock so that they seem completely integrated in their surroundings.

We entered his small hut and watched a film that was made when he was in his 90s before his death in 1993. In the film he shared his philosophy which gives an understanding to his life work. He spent a lot of time with Aborigines, being accepted by them, he was known as Brother Billy. He got to understand their relationship with the natural environment and deep love and respect for mother earth. He spoke of the unity of all life and how he used clay as it represents what our forms end up as after death. He shared that we, animals and plants are all connected, all atoms in the “wild” life, all part of the same. Therefore we should care for each other and our landscape. He hinted at having an enlightened experience and his passion and love for the natural life was paramount.

He was saddened at the destruction that white settlers was causing to the land and its indigenous people and he wanted to express his respect for the aboriginal people and the land. There was quite a disturbing sculpture called Betrayal showing him and two Aboriginals nailed to crosses with a hard-faced gunman behind them.

As we strolled along the maze of pathways, at each turn was a beautiful sculpture of Aboriginal people, a women with children surrounding her, an elder’s head and torso forming out of the rock, some of himself with Aborigines, a sense of being accepted and connected. There were 92 sculptures of people and animals to explore in these magnificent natural surroundings, I’m sure that we missed some of them. A very beautiful, spiritual place which I hope allows visitors time to reflect about our relationship with each other and planet earth. As we were leaving I noticed in the guest book that someone had written “A person with passion always leaves a legacy”. How very true.

After our visit, we drove to Sassafras, a quaint village that we had passed on the way with antique shops, wooden toy shop, a plethora of cafes and tearooms and even a shop that sells stacks of teapots. I had spotted some nice clothes shops, not that I would be buying but window shopping has its pleasures. As we got out of the car, we saw a huge gold rose on the grass verge. Tim picked it up, it had a label on it so we wondered if we could find the shop it was possibly bought from. Perhaps they would know the buyer. On the corner was @QuirkyAndTheJakster, a fantastic shop with gorgeous quirky clothes and paraphernalia – right up my street. Two ladies were chatting and when one, Elizabeth, saw us with the rose she burst out laughing. It turned out that it had been hers and she tried to get rid of it. Ah-ha it must be a boomerang in disguise! Apparently she used to have a job that involved lots of glitter which got everywhere and she cannot abide the stuff now! Such a lovely lady, great fun and we had a good laugh with her. I did have a browse round and was very tempted by a dress and a flowery bomber jacket – I resisted.

Elizabeth recommended we went to @RipeCafeSassafras across the road. Mmmm…nice cakes, and we haven’t had any since arriving in Melbourne. Time for a treat? We ordered a chocolate and pecan cake and an Orange cake. When we were serviced, I asked for a knife, we like to share our cakes – two for the price of one, and for some ridiculous reason I did the action of a knife cutting. What did I do that for? It reminded us when we were in a pub with our brother-in-law Martin once and the waiter asked if we wanted coffee and did the action of pushing the plunger of a cafetiere. How we laughed and we had a good laugh today as well. As we left, both the waiter and I were doing actions to one another – great having a giggle.

As we came out of the café we noticed a pathway to Sassafras Creek Forest Trail to Emerald. It was about 15km long and as it was getting towards 5pm, we certainly weren’t going to do that. However we did a smidgen of the walk, amongst the ferns and incredibly tall Mountain Ash. As it was getting towards sunset, the birds were coming in to roost and the cacophony of birdsong was nearly ear splitting! Sadly we needed to get back, so returned to the car, a quick supermarket stop and back for a “pleased to see us” Murphy.

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