Father Julian Tenison WoodsPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Graeme Saunders

The park commemorates the work done by Father Julian Tenison Woods who was the co-founder of the Sisters of St Joseph. The park was re-dedicated in 2010.   

Within the park there are seven wooden sculptures created with a chainsaw, to commemorate his work.  Sculptor Kevin Gilders, using chain saws, was the creator of the original carvings and tell the story of the impact Father Woods had on the young Mary MacKillop.   Due to the destructive work of longhorn beetles some carvings have been restored.  This work was carried out by Ant Martin from Millicent.

Julian Edmund Tenison-Woods (1832 – 1889) was an English Catholic priest and geologist, active in Australia. With Mary MacKillop (later Saint Mary MacKillop), he co-founded the Congregation of Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart at Penola in 1866.

He made regular long journeys over his large parish and systematically visited every place where he would find a member of his church. The climate improved his health, he was free from anxieties and passed through 10 happy years. Woods joined an exploring party that was starting for the interior and began a methodical study of geology and mineralogy. After four years as director of Catholic education, Woods continued working as a scientist and missionary priest in New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland.

The park is dedicated to the memory of pioneering Catholic Priest, Father Julien Edmund Tenison Woods who ministered in the South Australian South East region from 1857 until 1867.

On Sunday May 23, 2010 Archbishop Philip Wilson unveiled tree sculptures depicting various aspects of the life of Julian Woods: as co-founder with Mary Mackillop of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph; his work as priest-educator travelling on horseback over vast distances of the South East; and his scientific and geological achievements.

The Park is on land donated to the Archdiocese of Adelaide by Mr Jack Gartner in recognition of the work done by Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods in this region.
Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart



Address:Riddoch Highway, Father Woods Park, Glenroy, 5277
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.196225
Long: 140.844401
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Park
Monument Theme:People
Artist:Kevin Gilders (Wood Sculptures)


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 8th August, 1951
Front Inscription

Father Woods Park

During his ten happy years as parish priest for the 56,000 square kilometre South Eastern district, Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods often stayed with Donald and Catherine McArthur here on the original Limestone Ridge Station, where he is said to have meditated, prepared sermons and celebrated Mass under a large red gum known as Father Woods tree.

Born in London on 15 November 1832 to Irish Catholic and Anglican parents, Woods died in Sydney on 7 October 1889 at the age of 56.  An eminent scientiest as well as a devoted priest and founder of religious orders, this extraordinary man lived in Australia for over 30 years, with a three-year Asian interlude.

The park was established on land donated to the Archdiocese of Adelaide by Mr Jack Gartner as a memorial in recognition of the work done by Father Woods.  It was blessed by Archbishop Matthew Beovich on 8 August 1951.

On 23 May 2010 Archbishop Philip Wilson blessed the sculptures and re-dedicated the park as a place of pilgrimage, prayer and contemplation.

Left Side Inscription

Plaque :

Bush Priest

`I have been many nights out in the bush and have slept on my saddle many a time.` "Ten Years in the Bush", December, 1866

Soon after his ordination in Adelaide, Woods embarked on a stormy voyage to Robe, followed by two days on horseback, to take his appointment at Penola on 19 March 1857.

He regularly rode across his vast parish, which stretched from Mount Gambier to Bordertown and from Robe to Western Victoria, attending to the spiritual needs of his parishioners, who were from all walks of life.  He also provided musical entertainment in homes and enjoyed parish picnics at the Naracoorte Caves.

Plaque :

Good Citizen

`Your gentlemanly conduct and kindly bearing have won for you the respect and esteem of all classes and creeds.` Testimonial, residents of the South East, 1867

Woods used his skills as writer and orator to highlight government inadequacies in the provision of district roads and a reliable postal service, and backed the 1865 election of local MPs John Riddoch and Adam Lindsay Gordon.  He was Vice-President of the Penola Mechanics Institute, to which he donated scientific material.

Woods` medical knowledge helped many, but he was horrified to see aboriginal people dying from the effects of disease and alcohol, publicly commenting that `A more hideous, crying evil does not exist among Christians.` 

Plaque :

Gratitude is in the memory of the heart

Mary MacKillop, 1907

`If ever any people deserved gratitude... at the hands of another, the settlers of the South-Eastern District deserve it from me.  I have received kindness from one and all... (during) a residence of ten happy years of many sunny memories...  Our experience in life tells us that it is the circumstances and the people that make our happiness in the sphere into which we are thrown.  If it be so, how much do I owe the people if the bush.` 

Father Julian Tenison Woods
Lecture `Ten Years in the Bush`, Penola 19 December 1866

Gratitude is due to all who have contributed in any way to this memorial project

Chainsaw sculptor : Kevin Gilders

You are invited to view exhibitions on the lives and achievements of Father Julian Tenison Woods and Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop at the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre in Portland Street.

Right Side Inscription

Plaque :

Scientist & Explorer

`When out in the far bush, in the prosecution of my duties, it has been a most delightful employment... to study the great unpublished work of Nature.` Geological Observations in South Australia, 1862

Primarily a geologist, but also a competent palaeontologist, botanist, and zoologist, Woods successfully combined priestly and scientific work during his ten years in the South East.  After a scientific hiatus in Adelaide, his output again became prolific once he returned to missionary work throughtout NSW, Queensland and Tasmania.

Between 1883 and 1886, he undertook geological work for the British government in Asia, and then for the SA government in the Northern Territory.  He returned to Sydney and in 1888 was awarded the prestigious Clarke Medal for science.

Plaque :

Founder & Educator

`See in those children our Lord as a Child` Father Woods to the Sisters of St Joseph

At Penola in 1886 Woods co-founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart with Mary MacKillop to provide Catholic education for poor and isolated families.

He moved to Adelaide as Director General of the first system of Catholic education in Australia and in June 1867 Mary joined him there.  The Sisters of St Joseph were crucial to its establishment in SA and they later opened schools in Queensland, NSW, NZ, WA, and Victoria.

Woods also assisted in the formation of the first group of Diocesan Sisters of St Joseph at Perthville in the Bathurst Diocese.  From there other such groups were established at Wanganui, NZ, Goulburn and Lochinvar, NSW, and Tasmania.  He founded, too, the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Brisbane.

Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
Proudly sponsored by UBC Web Design