Set in 500 hectares of pleasant bush and pasture land, St. Mary’s Towers is gifted with an atmosphere conducive to prayer and reflection. St Mary’s Towers is significant also because of the well known historical figures who lived there and because of the substantial two-storey Gothic revival country residence which has altered little since the additions designed by Edmund Blacket in the 1860s.
About a third is pasture land and the remainder is eucalypt bush and sandstone ridges – so bring your walking shoes, hat and sunscreen as there are plenty of interesting walking tracks. The Nepean River gorge to the north, and Allan’s Creek gorge to the west, run the full length of two sides of the property and are home to many native animals, birds and wildflowers. If you trek into the bush early morning or late afternoon – and are quiet – you will encounter wallabies, kangaroos, possums, echidnas and wombats. Platypus are also said to be present in the waterways.
Further down Allen’s Creek off the property are rock paintings of the Dharawal people; the original inhabitants of this land. Unfortunately the paintings have been badly defaced. The Dharawal considered the land to the south of Razorback and at the meeting of the rivers to be Sanctuary land. To the north is ceremonial land. It is enriching to stand in this land, sacred from times ancient.
To the south of the property is the Illawara Coal (BHP Billiton) Tower Colliery, which commenced in 1978. Fortunately the tower and plant are not visible from the Retreat Centre but can be viewed from the hilltops behind the Centre. Douglas Park Drive (formerly Mt. Kiera Road) marks the Eastern Boundary of the property. The South-Western Freeway (Hume Highway ) cuts the property in two, with bush on the northern side and farm and buildings occupying the southern. Two of the largest freeway bridges in the country connect the property to surrounding lands. Moolgun Bridge spans Allan’s Creek, while the view of Douglas Park Bridge from the Nepean River crossing below is quite awe-inspiring.