The Communion Forest Comes to The Abbey


The Abbey at Raymond Island recently joined the Communion Forest creation care initiative to express its continuing commitment to caring for God’s creation.

The Abbey at Raymond Island is a Christian centre for hospitality, spirituality, and the environment.  It is an initiative of the Anglican diocese of Gippsland Australia and welcomes all people to a place where they can reflect on their spiritual life while immersed in the beauty of God’s creation.

The Abbey is situated on Raymond Island in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria Australia.  It provides accommodation, worship, and conference facilities set in 5 ha of land comprising remnant vegetation, revegetation, and neighbouring protected land.  A foreshore reserve of native vegetation extends along the southern boundary and overlooks Lake King which protects habitat for migratory birds under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

The Abbey has a long history of caring for God’s creation.  Many thousands of trees and shrubs have been planted and the area has been cared for by people from the Abbey community over many years.  The Gunaikurnai people are the traditional owners of Gragin and have cared for the island for thousands of years and they continue to joint-manage parts of the island.

The Communion Forest

The Communion Forest is a global initiative comprising local activities of forest protection, tree-growing and eco-system restoration undertaken by provinces, dioceses and individual churches across the Anglican Communion.  The Communion Forest was launched in 2022 during the Lambeth Conference and is a sign of the Anglican Communion’s commitment to the Anglican Fifth Mark of Mission: Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.


A Spiritual and Physical Journey

Caring for God’s creation is both a spiritual and physical journey.  The Abbey provides its visitors an opportunity to understand and respond to the Bible’s stories about creation through liturgy, contemplation, and prayer, and an opportunity to immerse themselves in the wonders of one part of the creation.

Being a part of the Communion Forest is one way for visitors to The Abbey to be linked with other Communion Forest initiatives around the world and share common beliefs that to plant is to hope, to protect is to love, and to restore is to heal: sharing in God’s reconciling work in all creation.

The Grandmother Tree (Narrow-leaf Peppermint Eucalyptus radiata, but waiting for positive identification?) occupies a special place in The Abbey gardens.  It is a tree that shows signs of great struggle, with part of this tree appearing dead whilst signs of fresh shoots offering new life continue to show their presence. This tree has become a focal prayer place, with visitors pegging their prayer intentions onto leaves of this tree. Across the Diocese, parishes will be responding to the invitation to have their own prayer tree, knowing that the Grandmother energy for these prayers is held on the sacred grounds of The Abbey.


Who lives at The Abbey?

In addition to its human residents, The Abbey and its surrounds provides valuable habitat for a variety of native animals and plants.  About 150 species of birds and 120 plants together with many invertebrates and marine creatures have been recorded in the vicinity of The Abbey.

The most conspicuous large trees in the grounds are Forest Red Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis and Bangalay Eucalyptus botryoides.  These old trees provide hollows for a wide range of birds, insects, and other animals and a nesting site for the resident pair of Tawny Frogmouths
Podargus strigoides.   On the ground there might be an Eastern Blue-tongue Tiliqua scincoides taking advantage of the sun’s warmth.  Although not part of the original fauna, Koalas are perhaps the best-known inhabitant of Raymond Island, and they are often seen asleep during the day.

As you enter the path to the beach you will find some old and gnarled Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia.  The dense shrubby vegetation comprises Common boobialla Myoporum insulare, Long-leaf Cassinia Cassinia longifolia, and the invasive Sweet Pittosperum Pittosperum together with Black Wattle Acacia mearnsii, Swamp Paperbark Melaleuca ericifolia, Coast Tea-tree Leptospermum laevigatum, and Coast Wattle Acacia longifolia.

As you emerge onto the sand there will be many low Seaberry Saltbush Rhagodia candolleana, Australian Salt-grass Distichlis distichophylla, and the Rounded Noon-flower Disphyma crassifolium.  If the tide is out there will be many thousands of barnacles attached to the rocky shoreline.