Werona consists of about 100 acres of steep bushland in Kangaroo Valley NSW, surrounded by high escarpments, hidden from the nearest road, and having the Kangaroo River as its northern boundary. It was a subdivided farm purchased about 50 years ago by a collective of people, many (but by no means all) of whom were Friends. Many of these collective ‘owners’ or their descendants can no longer be traced, and so a working group takes responsibility for bookings, maintenance etc.
Since it’s purchase, Werona has seen many changes. Early buildings are now only minimal ruins, while others have since been built. At one stage a resident caretaker ‘managed’ the property. It has been a sanctuary for conscience objectors in the VIetnam War. The aim of returning the property to it’s bush beginnings is being achieved, through the ongoing efforts of many who have cleared lantana, wild tobacco etc, and the slow but relentless march of Nature. Now Werona has about 95% tree cover, with (mostly) dry schleropyll forests, and the many orchids such as greenhoods.
Werona now provides for many solace, a place for spiritual renewal and sanctuary. There is room for large groups and small, campers in tents and rock overhangs, and those who prefer to sleep in a building. Exploring the property is a never-ending source of surprises, as the visitor finds hidden canyons created by rockfalls, delicate native orchids, startled wildlife, a William Ricketts sculpture, a stone ”chair” from which to watch the sun set or a rock “chimney” through which to squeeze to scale a cliff. Each person’s experience of Werona is unique, and reflects their own heart and interest.
This panel shows many facets of life at Werona. Clockwise from top left:
The cabin which sleeps small groups
The popular fire pit near Friends’ House, location of many evening barbeques and conversations under the stars
One of the many views over the Valley, with the sun setting through the trees
Friend’s House, the main building at Werona, and is the main gathering place
A Young Friend playing down at the river – leaping from an overhanging rope and about to splash into the river and break the reflections on its surface. Young Friends have had many Easter get-togethers at Werona.
The panel also contains some of the tiny, shy orchids which grow at Werona, and the wombats represent some of the wildlife that visitor encounter, including possums, lyrebirds, antechinus and endangered rock wallabies. Some of these can be particularly enthusiastic about sharing food!
Original design by Alan Lawrence
Stitched by Judy Wollan