It’s in our hands to make a difference (7 – 29 March)

This exhibition aims to create awareness and ask for support in the fight against the poaching crisis and to rescue and rehabilitate injured and orphaned rhinos that have survived poaching or drought-related incidents. As Nelson Mandela said “Education is the key to success, and without awareness and education we would not be able to successfully do what we do to save this endangered species.”

Nelson Mandela had a vision for the future - Nelson Mandela told the world “It is in our hands to make a difference.”

In 2003 Matthew Willman’s 18 month documentary on Robben Island caught the eye of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. With the approval of Mr Mandela himself, Willman began an incredible journey as a commissioned photographer to the Nelson Mandela Foundation. This afforded Willman many incredibly intimate moments over the years with Nelson Mandela himself.

Upon the sad passing of Nelson Mandela in 2013, Willman took up the cause of conservation to use his talent and ability to pay forward Mandela’s legacy through the protection and conservation of another of Africa’s great Icons, the cause of the black and white rhino. Both species on the edge of extinction in the wild parks of Africa.

This exhibition is a coming together of two great commitments photographer Matthew Willman embarked on. The photographic works of Nelson Mandela are regarded around the world as one of the finest photographic pieces of Mr Mandela. The artworks of the rhino have garnered attention around the world. Mandela often spoke about the need to empower new generations to take up causes that directly affect our world today. Honouring and supporting the testimony of Mandela’s life alongside our duty to protect and conserve our wildlife is not a gesture of charity, it’s an act of justice and unity in preserving the values of Mandela’s life and our conservation for wildlife.

Willman has created an exclusive photographic collection to help support the magnificent Rhinos.

The gardens at Retford Park Estate provide a space for contemplation as do all great gardens celebrated throughout the world. As the door opens and the curtains are drawn back, the house of the late James Fairfax welcomes the artistic expression. Coupled with his love of art he generously supported conservation and the World Wildlife Fund Australia amongst hundreds of other charities. He was passionate in his support and philanthropy of the visual arts, conservation organisations, research and education.

In common with James Fairfax is Matthew’s advocacy work. Matthew has been involved with Oxfam, Aus Aid, Australian Volunteers International, Australian Ballet Dancers, and Redfern Aboriginal Community Centre in Sydney. For years Matthews photographs have been used to lend support and speak on behalf of not for profit organisations in Australia and around the world. In Mandela’s words. “if you want to remain relevant, you must serve.”

This bringing together of conservation, advocacy and the arts makes Retford Park Estate a perfect venue to showcase this current and relevant exhibition.


Retford Park will be hosting a variety of tours and dinners to celebrate this extraordinary exhibition:


Tours and Dinner

See below for the different ways to enjoy this impressive exhibition. Please note, all the tours and dinners listed below include the magnificent gardens that surround the house. Bookings are essential for the following events and please arrive early to enjoy the full experience.


House & Garden Tours: Wednesdays – Sundays 8 – 29 March 2020

In the splendour of autumn at Retford Park, enjoy a tour of the exhibition hung throughout the house. Via the amazing photographs taken by Matthew Willman, you will learn about the life of one of the world’s greatest leaders and also about one of his great passions – the conservation of the native Rhinos.


  • National Trust member: $28
  • General admission adult: $35
  • Concession: $30
  • Children: $15
  • To book, please click here



Dinner for 40: 7 March 2020 (6pm – 10pm)

Retford Park will open its doors to host an evening event which has been planned to the finest detail. Be greeted with a glass of sparkling wine before being seated in the Morning Room to enjoy a sumptuous meal accompanied by quality wines. The house will be decorated with flowers picked fresh from the garden. Special guest, Matthew Willman and Curator, Cheryle Thompson will join the dinner party for an open-ended discussion about the exhibition, ‘It’s in our hands to make a difference‘.



Mandela Prepared to Die – Documentary

12 March – screening at the Empire Cinema – 6pm

Matthew Willman was commissioned to document the life of Mandela as a short film documentary in the USA in 2018 for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Centre.

In August 2019 the educational short film documentary won a regional Emmy Award for education in the USA.

This 28-minute film documentary shares in intimate detail the extraordinary life of Nelson Mandela, and his commitment to liberating all the people of South Africa from Apartheid. The film focuses on the many challenges he faced, his servant leadership and in choosing forgiveness as his greatest weapon to defeat his then enemy.

After the film documentary is screened, Matthew Willman will lead a 20 minute presentation followed by a half hour Q&A session with his audience.

This is a rare one-off opportunity to engage with Willman who for 10 years was commissioned to archive and document the life and times of Nelson Mandela for the Nelson Mandela Foundation creating Africa’s first and only Presidential Library / Centre of Memory.


  • National Trust members: $20
  • General admission adults: $25
  • Address: 327 Bong Bong St, Bowral
  • To book, please click here



Main Header “Ntoto the Brave, a little rhino with a Big Heart.”

Ntoto was a truly magnificent and brave little rhino calf who lost his mother in a brutal poaching incident in 2017. Ntoto was cared for at the Zululand Rhino Orphanage for 17 months where he came out of his shell and became a happy, boisterous little rhino with a big personality and a huge heart! Ntoto kept his carers entertained and he was dearly loved. Tragically, Ntoto’s health took a sudden turn and he passed away at 22 months old. Ntoto’s death was untimely and left the orphanage with many questions and broken hearts. We will never truly know the full extent of the trauma that these little calves suffer and how it affects them. Ntoto is a symbol of how brave these little calves are that have been left behind but also how fragile they are emotionally.

 B&W image on ‘what’s on’ page: ‘Baby Khula’. Khula is the Zulu word ‘to grow’. Little Khula was rescued after his mum abandoned him in the bush. Through careful rehabilitation Khula today sure is well on his way to being released back into the African bush as a healthy adult male white rhino.



Directions: Head up Merrigang Street from Bong Bong Street, the main street in Bowral.
Follow to the end of Merrigang and turn right at the ‘T’ intersection.
Watch for the Retford Park white gate, the second driveway on the left.
1325 Old South Road, Bowral


Open Gardens:
The gardens will open on the first weekend of each month 10am - 4pm.

Please note: if the first of the month falls on a Sunday, it is that weekend Retford is open to the public.

House Tours: (bookings essential)
Tours of the house are available on the Open Garden weekends in May, August and September.


January 2021

0418 720 066
Entry Fees:

Open Garden entry fees:
Adults - $15
Concession (including children) - $10
National Trust members - Free
Family - $35

Open Garden and House entry fees: (Bookings are essential)
Please book via the ‘What’s On’ section below.
Adult - $25
Concession (including children) - $18
National Trust members -$15

What we offer: