Quaker Centre

About Silver Wattle


The vision for Silver Wattle Quaker Centre is to:

  • Have an atmosphere of prayer, simplicity and gratitude before God.
  • Embody Quaker practice in all its aspects and activities
  • Welcome the spiritual presence in all who come to Silver Wattle
  • Be willing to encounter deeply Australian First Nations’ spirituality and care of this land and its peoples
  • Reflect a way of life that is spiritually, physically, environmentally and economically sustainable in Australia.
The road to Silver Wattle

The road to Silver Wattle

With the establishment of this Quaker Centre in the southern hemisphere, Australian Quakers acknowledge that they have an important role in the Asia-Pacific region. We are clear that, within a distinctively Australian landscape, this Quaker study centre is growing in the Australian environmental and social setting. We desire and seek a right relationship with the First Nation Peoples of this land and region. We are committed to matters of environmental restoration and cultural heritage, and in honouring the ongoing life of the First Nations of this continent and their rich contribution to country and culture.

People working together

People working together

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The Land and Wildlife of Silver Wattle Point

The property lies on the western side of Weereewa (Lake George). The lake is some 6km wide, with a line of steep hills along the edge. The freehold land covers 42 ha of wooded hills and alluvial slopes passing onto the lake bed. Pastoral leases of Crown land, covering another 1052 ha, extend to the north and eastwards across the lake bed. Historically the lake has alternated between being full of water and completely dry, on a decade scale. The main buildings are on high ground well above the lake shoreline.

Silver Wattle was established as a sheep property. There was some clearing of the land, and much of the sheep grazing was done on the dry areas of the lake bed. Water levels in Weereewa / Lake George have varied. In the past there was a fishing industry and a local ferry. During the 1970s the shoreline was close to the Sydney-Canberra highway. For many years the lake bed has been almost dry, but occasionally winter rains form extensive sheets of water on the eastern side.

The property was bought in the 1990s and developed as a training and conference centre. Adventure courses for young people were also held here. The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn bought the property in 2005 and the Catholic lay community, St Joseph’s House of Prayer moved from Goulburn to Silver Wattle. But members of the community started to go their separate ways in 2007. This faith community had a sense they were not to be here permanently, and were preparing the site for the next group.

We have several mobs of Eastern Grey Kangaroos, some Swamp Wallabies and occasional Wallaroos. Grey kangaroos with white joeys (and vice versa) are occasionally seen.

Long-Necked Turtle

Long-Necked Turtle

At least 4 species of Frogs are common in gardens and dams. Reptiles include Black Shinglebacks, Long-necked Turtles, Jacky Lizards, various small and large Skinks, and occasional Brown Snake, Tiger Snake or Red-belly Black Snake.

Snakes seen near buildings and gardens are caught and bagged by a trained resident snake catcher and taken a long walk into the bush to be released unharmed.

Since establishment in 2009, we have listed all on-site birds identified by enthusiastic birdwatchers.

Birds of Silver Wattle

The list contains 98 bird species seen from September 2009 to May 2014

A thorough wildlife survey has not yet been done.

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SWQC Library Jan 2013

SWQC Library January 2013

We hold more than a thousand titles, including books and comprehensive series of Quaker periodicals such as The Australian Friend, The Friend (UK) and Friend’s Journal (USA), Swarthmoor and James Backhouse Lectures. We also have a growing collection of CDs and DVDs on spiritual topics and peace activism, and audio copies of James Backhouse Lectures given at Australia Yearly Meetings during the last 15 years. The Library serves the guests at Silver Wattle. We do not lend.

The SWQC Library is catalogued online and can be searched at http://www.librarything.com/profile/SilverWattleQuaker

  • search the collection by typing in a search term into the search box
  • access the new classification number in the “Comments” field (using the SilverWattleQuaker’s suggested viewing style option)
  • a pull down list of searches includes titles/authors and subjects

The strength of the collection lies in its Quaker readings but there are many allied and completely different subjects. We are building up the collection to hold all the titles recommended in Quaker Basics and other Quaker learning programs. We have a Special Collection of published writings of Australia Quakers. We welcome donations of items and are seeking financial help to purchase significant Quaker writings and reference books.

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Brief History

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia Inc embraced the formation of a Quaker Centre as a concern at the 2009 Australia Yearly Meeting. A Working Group was appointed to search for a site and organise courses. After an exhaustive search for suitable properties in south-eastern Australia, Silver Wattle was chosen, and a rental arrangement negotiated with the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, the then owners.

The Centre started with limited offerings in late 2009 and followed these with a more extensive and a very successful program in 2010. Two prime tasks in these first two years were to identify leaders and develop courses, and secondly identify and encourage suitable resident elders. The response to enrolments and feedback in 2009-10 helped refine course offerings and begin more active marketing. During 2010 a separate legal entity was formed – Silver Wattle Quaker Centre Ltd, a company limited by guarantee and registered with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). The Australian Taxation Office approved tax deductible status for an Education Building Fund.

An appeal was launched to raise the necessary funds to acquire the property, establish the centre on a permanent basis, and start an endowment fund to finance maintenance, future initiatives and scholarships. In 2011, Australia Yearly Meeting confirmed its support for the centre and approved transfer of funds and assets to the new entity.

In 2012, Australia Yearly Meeting and Friends Fellowship of Healing (FFOH) agreed to nominate representatives to the Advisory Committee. The Convener of the Australian Friends Fellowship of Healing Charitable Trust (AFFHCT) confirmed an allocation of $312,000 to establish at Silver Wattle the “Olaf Hodgkin Unit – An Australian Home of Healing”.

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Quaker Roots

Quakers (also known as the Religious Society of Friends) often recall the words of William Penn, writing in 1682 in the language of his time:

“True godliness don’t turn men out of the world,
but enables them to live better in it,
and excites their endeavours to mend it.”

Quakers have continued to be instrumental leaders of social reform for over 350 years. They were involved as the earliest advocates of prison reform, as initiators of community centres and social welfare, as workers for non-violent resolution of conflicts, and providers of aid for those affected by famine and war. They have been core supporters of Indigenous voices, civil rights movements and environmental activism, especially in the early stages when the issues were not widely understood or accepted. Although Christian in origin, the Quaker approach is experiential. Worship is conducted within silence with spoken ministry delivered by men, women or children, as they are prompted by the movement of the Spirit within them. There are no priests or sacramental rituals. Quakers believe that every person has something of the divine within them, and this leads to a sense of reverence for all humankind, for other living things and for the planet we share. Quakers therefore seek to express in their lives the principles of truthfulness, simplicity, equality, compassion, peace and care for the earth.

Lorna Marsden, writing in 1986, summarised that worship is the basis of Quaker work in the world:

“Our testimonies arise from our way of worship.
Our way of worship evokes from deep within us at once an affirmation and a celebration,
an affirmation of the reality of that Light which illumines the spiritual longing of humanity,
and a celebration of the continual resurrection within us of the springs of hope and love;
a sense that each of us is, if we will, a channel for a power
that is both within and beyond us.”

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Where is Silver Wattle

Road Rail access to Silver Wattle Quaker Centre BY AIR Canberra Airport is 40 minutes away by road. Hire cars and taxis are available at the airport. We offer pickups and drop-offs at $33 per person. Or you can transfer to the Kingston Railway Station by airport bus or taxi and then catch the Sydney train which stops at Bungendore.

Airport express buses: http://www.canberraairport.com.au/travellers/parking-transport/buses-and-coaches-2/


Check at a Train Service, phone 132232 or the website: www.nswtrainlink.info/destinations/timetables All Trainlink trains between Sydney and Canberra stop at Bungendore Station. From Sydney to Bungendore (approx 3 hours 45 minutes): From Bungendore to Sydney (approx 3 hours 45 minutes): From Canberra* to Bungendore (approx 40 minutes): From Bungendore to Canberra* (approx 40 minutes): *Kingston Railway Station has local buses to the city centre, interstate bus station and airport.

TAXIS Bungendore taxi service, phone: 0412381977  YOU MUST BOOK IN ADVANCE.

PICK-UP and DROP-OFF If you let the SWQC know your travel details, we will pick you up from the Bungendore Station at no extra charge.

BY CAR Silver Wattle is 15kms from Bungendore, at the end of Lake Road, off Bungendore Road, which is a continuation of Gibraltar Street, Bungendore.

Do not trust your GPS – it may mislead you to a non-existent road!  Lake Road can only be accessed from Bungendore Road, near Mathews Road.

Driving on Lake Road – just be careful!

Lake Road is a graded dirt road. It is dusty when dry, slippery when wet, and between twice-yearly maintenance by the Shire, it can develop some potholes and corrugations. There are often native creatures, large and small, sitting in or crossing the road.  For your safety, and the safety of other Lake Road residents, please be careful.

There have been several incidents on this road in recent years, including a roll-over, skidding and stones breaking windscreens. Please drive to the conditions.

  • Take care round blind corners, due to high banks and thick vegetation
  • Slow down after rain in case of soft surfaces or potholes
  • Drive far enough behind a vehicle to let a dust plume clear
  • When passing another vehicle, go slow to avoid stones
  • Watch out for people walking, riding, or exercising dogs
  • Escaped animals can be reported to local residents or to the SW Office
  • If you injure an animal, contact Wildlife Rescue Service, WIRES, on 13 00 094 737
  • If stock are being moved on the road, slow to 5 kph as you go through the mob
  • Let us know about fallen trees on the road.  They are cleared promptly by the Shire
  • If someone is broken down, stop and offer help

As you turn into Lake Road, it’s your signal to start slowing down – and not just in speed.  Slow your mental processes and begin to open to the spirit of the place. Lower the window and smell the air.  Notice the wind farm windmills gently turning.  Look out for the horses, alpacas and Boer goats that live in properties along Lake Road.  Say hello to rosellas, lizards, wallabies and kangaroos.  Wind your way under ancient gnarled gum trees. And as you turn the last corner to enter the tunnel of elms, let the mind-clutter just slip away.

From Canberra (45 kms) or Batemans Bay (120kms)

Via Queanbeyan, take the Kings Highway to Bungendore and turn left at the roundabout onto Bungendore Road and then north (right) into Lake Road. Via Wamboin, take the Federal Highway to Macs Reef Road, turn right at Bungendore Road t-junction, and after descending down Smith’s Gap on Bungendore Road, turn north (left) into Lake Road.

From the Sydney region (80 kms from Goulburn) Take the Hume Highway past Goulburn and then the Federal Highway to Canberra. Leave the Federal Highway at the sign to Bungendore (Bungendore Road), and after descending down Smith’s Gap, turn first left (northwards) into Lake Road. This road is a no-through road and Silver Wattle is the last property. An alternative route from the Federal Highway is via Tarago to Bungendore village.

From Melbourne or Albury (70kms from Yass) Take the Hume Highway past Yass and then the Barton Highway to Canberra. Turn left at Murrumbateman and follow signs to Bungendore.  This includes a very short stretch on the Federal Highway. On Bungendore Road,  after descending down Smith’s Gap, turn left (northwards) into Lake Road.  Silver Wattle is at the end of the road.

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Board, Committees & Resident Staff


SWQC Constitution (amended AGM 13 October 2013)

Board of Directors

The Board articulates and fosters the vision and strategic goals of Silver Wattle, ensuring the Quaker identity and character of the institution, and is responsible for strategic planning and the financial viability of Silver Wattle.

Maxine Cooper (Clerk)

Bev Polzin (Assistant Clerk)

Ray Brindle

Mark Lockwood

Susan Clarke (Director) ex-officio 

Advisory Committee

This committee supports and fosters the vision and strategic goals of Silver Wattle, and provides timely, accurate and pertinent advice to the Board on policies, financial and legal issues.  It also nominates members of the Board.

Members: Judy Henderson (Convener), Kerry O’Regan (providing a link with AYM), Ivanka Belic (representing Friends Fellowship of Healing), Moira Darling, John Baker.

Committee of Elders

This committee identifies, encourages, supports and provides guidance and resources to those Friends who offer themselves for service as Elder.  It also supports and holds accountable those involved in the management and operation of the Centre.

Members:  Trish Johnson (Convener to Sept 2016), Lesli Grant (to Sept 2016), Christine Larkin (to Sept 2016), and Susan Clarke, (ex-officio) Centre Director.

Committee for Programs & Learning

This committee identifies, encourages, supports and provides guidance and resources to those who offer themselves as course teachers, leaders or facilitators.  It also reviews the overall programs and individual courses, ensuring the offerings address spiritual transformation in a balanced manner – which is the foundational focus of Silver Wattle.

Members: Convenor: Sheila Keane, Helen Bayes, Drew Thomas, Catherine Heywood, Aletia Dundas and Susan Clarke (ex-officio) Centre Director.

Land and Property Committee

This committee advises on the management of the land and development of the Silver Wattle property

Raina Emerson (Convenor) Susan Clarke (Centre Co-Director (ex-officio)) Bill Cady, Richard Field, and David Liversidge.

Resident Staff

Centre Director:  Susan Clarke (to December 2016)

Non-Resident Staff

Business Manager: Tracy Bourne

Cook:  Ruth Gaha-Morris

Librarian: Lois Cady


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Courses and Workshops

People gathered to learn

People gathered to learn

6-day Courses are offered on a wide variety of topics. This is the mainstay of our learning program, providing the opportunity for withdrawal from normal life to allow for real deepening and transformation. Shorter courses are also available, normally 3-4 days. Guided Silent Retreats are an important part of the program, led by a Spiritual Director or an experienced Quaker, and can be from several days to several weeks.


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Your own stays

You are  welcome to book in for your own private retreat during quiet times.

We also invite you to immerse yourself in this spiritual and practical community, for your own purpose such as writing, study, or helping the centre. We accept bookings from 2 nights (min) to much longer stays.  Please contact us to discuss with us your needs.

  • Full board accommodation per person: $99 single room/$88 shared
  • Bed and Breakfast (self-catered midday and evening meals): $66
  • Working stays, with full board  in return for 3 hours work per day: $44 single or shared
  • Camping, fully self catered $22 per person.  Meals can be booked: $18.
  • Children (under 16 years) staying in the care of their family: No charge

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About the Centre


The main building, built in 1990s

The main building, built in mid-1990s

The main centre is an L-shaped building with conference room, sitting room, dining area and commercial kitchen facilities.

The Woodhouse Room, for large groups and presentations

The Woodhouse Room, for large groups and presentations

The Woodhouse Room can be set up in the round, or for a speaker’s presentation, and is equipped with with data projector, sound system, white boards and piano.

The Guest Wing

The Guest Wing

Residence wing has four units each with three bedrooms and bathroom/toilet. Gas space heating is turned on in the cold months. Behind the residence wing are the carpark, workshops and machinery sheds.

a comfortable room for small groups

a comfortable room for small groups

The sitting room stays cool in summer and is heated in winter by a large wood stove (made by the Quaker ironworks, Darby of Coalbrookdale).

A great environment for children

A great environment for children

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