Monsignor Hawes Heritage Trail

Take a fascinating 600 metre walk through the legacy of Mullewa’s famous former resident, the man who was the local Catholic priest from 1916 to 1939.

Monsignor Hawes designed and built numerous well-known churches around the Mid-West and all around the world. Yet while the buildings he designed resonate on an international scale it is the man himself that is at the centre of this experience.

Hawes was an astonishing character, a man of dramatic contradictions and fascinating passions and the life he lived could be truly said to be unique.

The trail features 11 substantial interpretive nodes, each detailing a phase of Hawes’ inspiring life story. It also features a number of large mosaics created by local Wajarri artists as a tribute to the relationship between Hawes and the indigenous people of the area.

Various trailside structures evoke shapes and forms common in Hawes’ buildings and all along the way be guided by Dominie, the good Monsignor’s beloved fox terrier.


Mons Hawes Heritahe Trail


Waypoint 1 – Home Base: Childhood and Family, School and Architecture

The young John Hawes enthusiastically devoted himself to studying architecture and learned to carve and model in clay and stone, skills that were later highly evident in his church buildings.

Waypoint 2 – Dual Roles: Anglican Priest and Architect

Monsignor Hawes first posting to the Church of the Holy Redeemer in the Clerkenwell slums of London proved an ideal framework for the young curate who quickly adopted a way of life that brought him into close contact with his poor parishioners. He lived a strict monastic life here but still managed to find time to design substantial new buildings.

Waypoint 3 – Missionary Man: The Bahamas and Catholicism

After a severe hurricane in the Bahamas wrecked all but two of 12 stone church buildings on Long Island, Monsignor Hawes left England to help the rebuilding effort but what were his 'growing doubts concerning the Church of England'?

Waypoint 4 Rome and Beyond: Beda College and Bishop Kelly

What did Beda College offer Hawes an older ‘independent minded’ man of considerable life experience? And why did Hawes respond to Bishop Kelly's 'call from afar' from the vast untamed and empty Western Australia?

Waypoint 5 – The Outback Missionary: Horseman and Good Sport

In typical resolute fashion Hawes quickly adapted to these difficult circumstances and was soon recognised throughout his far-flung parish as ‘a good sport’. Spending countless hours in the saddle ministering to the isolated areas of his parish, what did he come to make of his natural horsemanship?

Waypoint 6 – Geraldton and Mullewa: Cathedral Builder and Parish Priest

Architect, foreman, labourer and fundraiser, such was Hawes work load of the iconic cathedral. Hawes then split his time and energy between the construction project and his appointment to the parish of Mullewa. What simple altar did he create to engage the Aboriginal population of Mullewa?

Waypoint 7 – Diocesan Architect: A Busy Builder Indeed

Buildings in Morawa, Kojarena, Carnarvon, Geraldton, Tardun, Perenjori, Carnamah, Nanson and Bluff Point remain as a dramatic and alluring testament to the skill and productivity of this remarkable man. Which caused him considerable grief due to an extended disagreement with the local priest?

Waypoint 8 – The Conscious Stones: His Own Church and Priest House

It was not until his church in Mullewa was complete that Hawes responded to the Archbishop’s direction and drew up plans for his priest house. Who as a result of Hawes attention to detail received their own private entrance low down in one wall?

Waypoint 9 – Mullewa's Monsignor: A Hard but Happy Life

John Hawes was to be at Mullewa for from 1916 to 1938. In this time he became a highly respected and much loved member of the community. Even in the early years while distracted by the Geraldton cathedral project his devotion to his parish was extraordinary.

Waypoint 10 – On the Move: Back to the Bahamas

Six months after leaving Western Australia some 29 years since he had sighted the Bahamas, Monsignor Hawes returned to his beloved islands. The final phase of his extraordinary life was about to begin.

Waypoint 11 – Final Years: The Hermit of Cat Island

After a period of 'lurid publicity' and high demand for his architectural talent Monsignor Hawes chose to retire to Cat Island. Now he could enjoy the quiet and peaceful life he so longed for or could he?