Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Father Woods movement

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Sheryl Lowe, Naracoorte Community News

Father Woods Park statues will be the focus of discussions between Wattle Range Council and the Penola Catholic Community in coming weeks.

Father Woods statues
Wattle Range Council will consider moving the statues from Father Woods Park to Penola. Photo: Naracoorte Community News

The entry and exit points of Father Woods Park onto Riddoch Highway Glenroy were identified as ‘dangerous’ at the Wattle Range Council ordinary meeting on November 9th 2021. The addition of the proposed Penola Coonawarra rail trail crossing the highway in close vicinity to the park is a concern to some locals, who say they’d prefer the trail to continue along the railway line from Penola to the Hundred-line Road and not follow the road reserve to the highway.

Mr Peter Hocking, Tom Edwards and George Kidman own neighbouring properties to the park and told The News, they believe the proposed trail crossing at this site is a tragedy waiting to happen. Crs. Burrow, Price and Agnew agreed that the site is dangerous.

Cr Price successfully moved for Council to approach the Catholic Church leaders at Penola to see if they would support the relocation of the statues to Penola due to the safety concerns at the current site.

Cr Price said the relocation of the statues would remove the need for the rail trail to follow the road reserve through Mr Hocking property to Father Woods Park and would create a tourist attraction in Penola. This, he said, would increase the foot traffic through businesses in the struggling town. Penola businesses say they have noticed a reduction in tourist numbers since the Penola by-pass opened in 2020.

Cr Kevin McGrath agreed Penola needs help, saying “it is not the bustling town it once was.”

The seven wooden statues at the site were carved by Kevin Gilders, and are a significant place of interest, not just for the religious but for tourists as well. Father Woods was a Catholic Priest in the south-east of South Australia during the years 1857 to 1867. He met and inspired Mary MacKillop to devote her life to the wellbeing of all children.

The Park is opposite the tree where they say Father Woods preached his sermons. The land was donated to the Catholic Church by Mr Jack Gartner. Wattle Range Council plans to install toilets, seats and water facilities if the rail trail connects with the park.

The Mary MacKillop Centre in Penola has been contacted for comment.

Naracoorte Community News 1 December 2021

This article appeared in Naracoorte Community News, 1 December 2021.

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