Mystical gardens and sculptures tour


Garden sculptures of heightened spirit Downunder


All of the three following gardens are located on the outer Eastern fringe of Melbourne, Victoria.  Each garden is approximately one hour travel time from the centre of Melbourne with an additional 45 minutes of travel between them.



Australia Garden :

Cranbourne, Victoria


Contemporary landscape garden, Melbourne

Queensland Bottle Trees in a rock landscape

Contemporary Australia Garden, Cranbourne, Melbourne


The bold, sweeping contemporary botanical gardens at Cranbourne were created from a former sand quarry. It was designed to allow visitors to follow a metaphorical journey of the movement of water through the Australian landscape, from the desert to the coastal fringe. Via innovative artistry of landscape design, this integrated landscape brings together horticulture, architecture, ecology, and art to create the largest botanic garden devoted to Australian flora.
The first half of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne was completed in 2006 and Stage 2 was completed in Spring 2012. The stylized native landscape gardens showcase the diversity of environments found on the Australian continent along with much of the exotic and wonderful flora which may be found there.


Orange-red Grevillia flowers  -- Australia Gardens, Cranbourne

Grevillia flowers  — Australia Gardens, Cranbourne

Spread out over 15 hectares and inspired by Aboriginal art forms, the highly landscaped gardens use colour selections of clusters of native plants to sculpt shapes onto the landscape. Lots of open spaces are given consideration between the designed elements to replicate the vast open expanses of the Australian landscape.
Also known as the ‘Australia Garden’, it presents sequences of original sculptural and artistic landscape experiences modelled into precincts such as the Gondwana Garden, Red Sand Garden, Ephemeral Lake, Serpentine Walk, Vine Garden and Eucalyptus walk. Included in the gardens are a rich variety of native plants which include the Albany Daisy, Kangaroo-paw, Pincushions, Pineapple Bush, Rope-rush, Popflower, Snakebush, Mat-rush, Grass tree and other fascinating rockery plants.
The unique Australia Garden is designed to be a companion piece to the Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens and is in contrast to its European botanical features. The layout utilizes 170,000 plants across 1700 species all adapted to this challenging site condition, with species selected not only for their suitability to low organic media, but also their adaptation to low water utilization and drought tolerance.
The young gardens are still evolving and has free entry and can be witnessed from the elevated Boon Wurrung Cafe. Visiting these gardens is a journey that becomes a choreography of movement balancing abstraction, metaphor and landscape poetry through the combination of ancient native plants, rocks and water with space.



Rock garden – Australia Garden



Royal-Botanic-Gardens-Cranbourne--Australia---large lake

‘Melaleuca Spits Lake’



Blue Wren on rocks

Blue Wren – Australia Gardens



Stylised landscape garden Cranbourne

Rock garden built with Castlemaine stones



Cranbourne Botanic-Gardens---Lily-Pad-Bridge

‘Lily Pad Bridge’ – Australia Garden, Cranbourne, Victoria




Cranbourne Botanic-Gardens---Castlemaine-rocks

Cranbourne Botanic Gardens—Castlemaine rocks



Ephemeral-Lake at Cranbourne Botanical Gardens - metaphorical sculpture

‘Ephemeral Lake’ at Cranbourne Australia Garden

Sculptor Mark Stoner in collaboration with Edwina Kearney

Highlighted by white ceramic elements, the work is predicated on the idea of the presence and absence of water and the horizontal nature of its dispersal across the arid zones of Australia. Viewed as a meandering rather than a direct flow pattern. This requires a certain way of movement, a linear sensibility. This allows a rhythm and tempo in the work, a quietness, a distillation of time and space. Ephemeral Lake introduces the narrative of water in this ancient, degraded, arid and flat continent.



Cranbourne Botanical Red Sand Garden

‘Red Sand Garden’




Contemporary-Australia-Garden aerial view

Red Sand stylized garden




Aerial view-Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

Australia Garden – aerial perspective

Maybe because the aerial configuration of the gardens look like an abstract painting, to me the gardens felt like a living, breathing sculpture. Traversing the gardens was a grounded, immersive experience that felt vibrant and refreshing. As you enter the gardens, the first thing you witness is the huge, minimalist Red Sand Garden, an immediate statement of scale and conceptual intent for a botanical garden you haven’t seen the likes of before.



Johnsons Grass Trees with their spectacular flower spikes

Flower Spikes on Johnson’s Grass Trees

Australia Garden, Cranbourne, Victoria



Bush-Ranger-(Anigozanthos) red Australian native flowers

Red Bush Ranger (Anigozanthos) – Australian native flower




Cranbourne Botanical Garden - photo by Craig-Ward

Contemporary landscape gardens, Cranbourne

 photo by Craig-Ward


Royal-Botanic-Gardens-Cranbourne--Australia---red bush-gumnut flowers photo by DancerAustralia

Flowering red gum nuts



Cranbourne Botanical Gardens - photo Roger-Nelly

Cranbourne Botanical Gardens – photo by Roger Nelly





Native plants in a contemporary setting at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Cranbourne




Australia-Garden sightseeing

Sightseeing buggies at Australia Garden





RBCG – Royal Botanical Cranbourne Gardens




RBGC_Australia_Garden abstract outdoor sculptures

Australia Garden water course sculptures




Melaleuca Spits – Sculptured lakes – Australia Garden, Cranbourne, Victoria



Queensland Bottle Tree - Australia Garden - large yellow tree with bottle shaped trunk

Queensland Bottle Tree – Australia Garden, Cranbourne



William Ricketts Sanctuary :

Olinda, Mount Dandenong


William Ricketts Sanctuary is nestled in the Dandenong Mountains in a lush fern forest, in a natural setting of beauty and tranquility. It is an ideal location for Ricketts mystical sculptures, which merge naturally with the ferns, along enchanting pathways. William Ricketts, an Australian potter and sculptor, began creating his sculptural odyssey in 1934, making his visionary pieces from clay and kiln firing them before attaching them onto the natural rock formations.
Having spent 2 years in India at the Sri Aurobindo spiritual center in Pondicherry, and making frequent trips into Central Australia to live with Pitjantjatjara and Arrernte Aboriginal people from 1949 to 1960, his works express a spiritual resonance reflecting his empathy with Indian and Aboriginal spirituality and philosophies. His sculptures were inspired by the cultures and ancient traditions of the Indigenous Australians and their bond with the earth. Torsos of men, women and children covered in moss protrude from tree trunks and boulders. Winged sculptures reach heavenward and others embrace protectively, reinforcing their family bonding. His kinship with the Aboriginal peoples and love of the Australian landscape has translated into a collection of over 100 forest sculptures, which amount to a life long mission, to promote and immortalize the deep spirit of the ancient Australian cultures.


Indigenous Elder waterfall sculpture at Ricketts Sanctuary

Indigenous Elder waterfall sculpture at Rickett’s Sanctuary




Winged Aboriginal boy sculpture



William-Rickett sculpture with lyrebird tail feathers

William Ricketts self portrait sculpture with totem Lyrebird tail feathers



Entrance to William Ricketts Garden Sanctuary with two aboriginal busts

Entrance sculptures to William Ricketts Sanctuary




Ricketts Sanctuary entrance rock sculpture




Rock sculpture of Aboriginal elder

William Ricketts sculpture of an Aboriginal elder





Rock wall sculptures under native ferns




William_Ricketts_sanctuary_Aboriginal earth mother

A William Rickett’s ‘Earth Mother’ sculpture





Three Aboriginal angels sculpture

Photo by Jakwak


Ricketts-rock-sculpture at the Dandenong Mountains

Unique sculpture garden of rock and moss




William Ricketts – (1898-1993)

Photo by Ern Mainka



William-Ricketts fern forest sculptures

Mountain fern forest Aboriginal sculpture

Ricketts Sanctuary




Stone sculpture with concentric circle motif

Inscribed on the Sculpture :
Beyond organized religions, Beyond man’s institutions
Is the true state of being
That Thou Art – Tat Twam Asi



William Ricketts bush sculpture of Aboriginal children

William Ricketts sculpture of aboriginal children





Terracotta sculpture by William Ricketts

Carter’s Price Guides to Antiques and Collectables




William Ricketts earthenware plaque modelled with an indigenous Australian motif





Unglazed earthenware sculpture – William Ricketts



William-Ricketts-Sanctuary-aboriginal children sculpture

Ricketts Sanctuary

Olinda, Mount Dandenong



William-Ricketts-Sanctuary - Bearded aboriginal elder sculpture -photo-Chris Wang

Moss covered,  bearded Aboriginal elder sculpture





Wall relief and inner sanctum –  William Ricketts

Google Earth photo – Indriati Naland




William-Ricketts-Sanctuary-Earthly-Mother with family

Earth Mother by William Ricketts




William-Ricketts-Sanctuary-----image from Google Earth

Sculpture of an aboriginal seated on a rock ledge with hands reaching up from the earth.




William Ricketts rock sculpture in a fern forest

Rock sculpture immersed in the fern forest




Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden :

Marysville, Victoria


Bruno Torfs grew up in South America and moved to Australia as an adult. One of the first places he visited was the mountainous Marysville, which he interpreted as a kind of Middle Earth location due to its natural splendor, mystique and beauty and he immediately felt an affinity with the rugged and graceful landscape. After acquiring an established art gallery there he began creating his sculpture garden full of artworks of Celtic, European and Russian influence along with Australian aboriginal art. Assisted by his wife Maureen, he expanded his garden over several years to include over 200 sculptures and paintings. The lush rainforest embraced his sculptures like they always belonged there, even after they were confronted with the misfortune of a dreadful bushfire in 2009 that destroyed most of the town including his home and some of his artworks.

As a professional artist he believed that the universe supports you when you follow your passion so he continued. He also viewed the event as a cleansing and rebirth for himself and the environment and entered a new phase for his fantasy garden project. His clay sculptures are quite often constructed outdoors and kiln fired on-site. Through his diverse talents and a spirit for adventure, Bruno has kept creating his unique sculptures full of culture and character and his wonderful garden is on the way to a full recovery.


maiden-riding-a-unicorn Bruno Torfs garden

Girl Riding a Unicorn sculpture – Bruno Torfs Garden


Bruno Toff in his garden at Marysville

Bruno Toff in his garden at Marysville



Queen Bee sculpture - Bruno Torfs

Queen Bee sculpture




Bruno Torfs Garden sculptures


Bruno-Torfs---Seated Goddess on her throne in a fern canopy

Seated Goddess on her throne in a fern canopy


Surviving Goddess sculpture from Marysville bushfire

After surviving the Black Saturday bushfire. A close call, some of the sculptures were crushed by falling trees.


Bush fire at Bruno's sculpture garden

Terracotta statues intact after the raging furnace



Bruno Torfs sculpture in a razed bush landscape

Sculpture of a man and a boy in a fire ravaged landscape, curiously in synch with the environment



Surviving sculptures after the bushfire at Bruno's garden

Another surviving sculpture in synch with the event.




 embracing couple sculpture in a forest after a bushfire - Bruno's garden

A sculpture of an embracing couple in a razed forest




 tree carved sculptures after bushfire

Scorched tree carved sculptures at Bruno’s garden




Bruno Torfs large hand sculpture fountain

Large hand sculpture water fountain – Bruno Torfs



Aftermathll- Bruno Torf with surviving art from bushfire

Bruno Torfs holding a painting that avoided destruction




Forest Flute player at Bruno Torfs gardens

Forest Flutist sculpture




Robed female sculptures – Bruno’s Garden




brunos_sculptures_Gum tree elemental figure

Bush forest gumtree elemental sculpture



Bruno-Torfs,-sculpture-garden Sculpture of a woman coiled in a snake

Coiled snake woman sculpture





Sculpture on a bed of moss – Bruno’s art and sculpture garden




Bruno-Torfs-sculpture bearded Sadhu sculpture

Bearded mystic sculpture




Sculpture of a bearded man beneath a Gumtree meditating

Bush meditation sculpture against a gum-tree trunk




Sculpture-Garden-Bruno-Torfs - Girl playing with wombat sculpture

Sculpture of girl with forest wombat



Sculpture-Garden-Bruno-Torfs Boy in forest with owls sculpture

Sculpture of a boy in the forest with owls


Sculpture-Garden-Bruno-Torfs - Bush forest minstrel sitting on a tree stump

Forest minstrel on a tree stump sculpture



Mermaid sculpture in a mountain stream

Mermaid sculpture in a mountain stream


Garden sculpture of a seated man with a crow

Talking to a crow – Bruno’s Garden


Wood_Sculptures of Aboriginal with didjeiradoo

Sculpture of an Australian Aboriginal with Didgeridoo



The forests of the above 2 gardens are home to the remarkable Lyrebird, capable of a diverse range of bird calls and mimicry






1 Comment

  1. Maryam beheshti
    Posted June 20, 2023 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Hello, good time, due to copyright, can I use these photos to create a sugar work about Australia?

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