Finding Beauty in Dark Moments ...


'As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow.' A.C. Benson

'I think everybody has their own way of looking at their lives as some kind of pilgrimage … Everyone's got their own definition. Mine, I suppose, is to know myself.’ Eric Clapton 

Sometimes, we move so fast we forget to notice how beautiful the world is. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the pace of our lives, that we don't allow ourselves to stop and draw breath and just look around us. Sometimes, in our most difficult moments, we deny the beauty and wisdom that each of us has within. This weekend, in the serenity and quiet that pervade The Monastery at Stroud, is an opportunity to slow down, breathe, walk, talk, play, create.

art + journalling + reflection + serenity + time + nature =

discovery/rediscovery of who you are + insight + greater clarity + peace.

When:  5PM, Friday 4th September - 2PM, Sunday, 6th September.

Where: The Monastery at Stroud is like stepping back in time to Medieval Europe, except with kangaroos and the carolling of magpies. Beauty, peace and an air of welcome.  

The Monastery of The Blessed Virgin Mary

Cost: $275/$250 concession. Accomodation, art materials and all meals included. Please bring your own bed linen as this is not supplied by the Monastery. Please also bring a journal - preferably an A4 visual diary with blank pages. And no, you don't need to be an artist to do this, you just need to want to slow down, gain some peace and perspective in your life.

Content:  The main focus of the weekend is on Life as a Journey, the ancient practice of pilgrimage - taking time out of your life in order to find yourself, to centre yourself in who and where you are in your life now. Being able to look at your life in this way brings greater clarity and a much-enhanced sense of inner peace. We're able to withstand many of the pressures in life if we can see both beginnings and an end in sight, that life is indeed a journey and a process. Taking time out enables us to gain this perspective and to re-emerge into our lives stronger and renewed. 


The natural beauty and tranquillity of Stroud Monastery provide the perfect setting for Pilgrimage. The Monastery is located just outside Stroud, a rural village approximately 1 hour north of Newcastle and 2 ½ hours north of Sydney. Stroud is a pretty town, full of flowers and friendly folk. It even has a free swimming pool, open to the public.

The Monastery was established in the mid 1970s by a group of Anglican Sisters to provide a home for their life of reflection and prayer. With help from many parishioners from Anglican parishes around Australia, they constructed a series of beautiful mud brick buildings. Most of the walls in The Monastery are curved and the mud brick floors follow the contours of the Earth, rather than being straight and flat. This reflects Sr. Angela's original design that this place reflect the female nature of God. In March 2000 the Sisters decided they could no longer maintain community life and with the support of the Franciscan Association the Monastery is now used for workshops, retreats and gatherings. The Monastery has a history of prayerful reflection and is made available to groups who will preserve and add to the reflective ambiance of the site.  

The Monastery itself provides single room accommodation for up to 16 participants and includes two communal bathrooms with 4 showers and 6 toilets, an amazing kitchen that is a delight to cook in, a beautiful chapel, a spacious dining area and a large, cosy lounge area for workshops. The Hobbit House and Bean Room are separate from the Monastery and provide beds for another 2-4 participants. 

Misty mornings coloured pink by the rising sun, green paddocks and hills, families of kangaroos and the glorious carolling of magpies commence the days here at the Monastery. The surrounding countryside  is perfect for long early morning walks. Or short walks, for that matter - it depends on your fitness and inclination. But walking will be an important part of the weekend so please bring walking shoes and suitable clothing. An umbrella may come in handy as well as it rains quite a lot here in this beautifully green part of the world.

Please bring your own  bed linen as the Monastery does not provide sheets but pillows and donnas are provided.


  1. If coming from Sydney continue along the F3 past the Newcastle exits and follow the signs to Taree. These will take you across the Hunter River at Hexham. Now follow the directions from Pt 3. 
  2. If coming from Newcastle head towards Maitland past the Sandgate Cemetery. At the Hexham Bridge intersection follow the signs to Taree taking the left hand exit off Maitland Road to go across the bridge. 
  3. After crossing the bridge continue along the Pacific Highway and take the Raymond Terrace Bypass following the signs to Taree. 
  4. Approx 15 minutes after the Raymond Terrace Bypass turn left off the Highway onto Bucketts Way Road. Approx 1 km after the Truck Weigh Station. 
  5. Continue along the Bucketts Way Road for approx 20-25 minutes until you reach the Stroud town ship. 
  6. Go through Stroud and after approx 2 kms you will pass a Golf Club on the right. 
  7. Just after a 90km speed sign take a right turn into a dirt road called St Clair and there will be a sign to the Monastery. 
  8. Follow the driveway and park in the second car park. 
  9. If you wish you can drive down to the area just behind the monastery to drop off your luggage and then return the car to the car park. 
  10. If you come to a left hand turn to Dungog you have gone too far. Turn around and the turn off into the Monastery will now be on your left hand side.

[With thanks to Ananda Veda Holistic Living for their directions.  Ananda Veda Holistic Living ]


Friday afternoon/evening:

Arrive ~ Choose a bedroom in The Monastery ~ unpack ~ relax ~ explore ~ feel comfortable and welcome.

6PM ~ Dinner ~ meet fellow pilgrims

7PM ~ An introduction to the weekend, questions, discussion

Saturday morning:

Early ~ Walk into town and swim [optional but exceptionally good]

9AM ~ Breakfast

10AM - Midday ~  Art Therapy exercises

Saturday afternoon:

Midday ~ Lunch

1PM - 4PM ~ Art and Clay Play

Saturday evening:

6PM ~ Dinner

7PM ~ Movie in The Monastery Library ~ Journalling as a tool for self-awareness, empowerment and change.

'The Freedom Writers' based on 'The Freedom Writers DiaryHow a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them' by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell 

The Freedom Writers Trailer

Sunday morning:

Early ~ Walk into town and swim [optional but exceptionally good] 

9AM ~ Breakfast

9.30AM ~ Eucharist in the Chapel with Mother Pirrial [optional but also good]

10.30AM - Midday ~ Making Connections : From Image to Story 

Sunday afternoon: 

12.30 ~ Lunch

1 - 2PM ~ Storytelling and Closing Ritual


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