Many years ago, Steve stumbled upon the story of John Hawes, an English priest and architect who lived in the midwest region of Western Australia in the early part of the 20th century.  He was captivated by the life story of this remarkable man, who left about 25 buildings in Western Australia as well as several in the UK and more in The Bahamas.  It led to a photographic project to record the West Australian buildings, and a book "The Builder Priest" which was completed in 2012.

While Steve always had the idea of travelling to the UK and The Bahamas to photograph the buildings Hawes left in those places, the possibility seemed to fade as time went on and he had all but given up on it.  But then in late 2017 he learned that a group from Geraldton was putting together a "pilgrimage tour" which would do exactly that, in May 2018, so he signed up and was able to extend the portfolio to include almost all of the existing Hawes buildings.  The tour was a wonderful experience, and the 17 "pilgrims" in the group were treated almost like celebrities at many of the places visited, especially in The Bahamas.  It enabled production of the second book, "Stone Upon Stone", completed in 2019, which effectively supersedes the first book.

Born in 1876 near London into a devoutly Anglican family, John Cyril Hawes experienced a religious calling shortly after qualifying as an architect in 1897, which led to ordination as an Anglican deacon in 1903.  Later in life, after a two-year posting in The Bahamas in 1909-1910 and many years of struggle with his beliefs, he converted to Catholicism.  After study in Rome he was ordained again in 1915, this time as a Catholic priest.

Almost by chance he was recruited in Rome by Bishop William Kelly from Geraldton, a diocese in remote Western Australia, with the promise of a commission to design a cathedral for the fast-growing town.  He spent the next twenty-four years of his life in Western Australia, ministering to the widely-scattered congregations and undertaking an incredibly productive program of design and construction throughout the midwest region.  The Geraldton Cathedral is his most important building there.

He left Western Australia in 1939 and returned to The Bahamas, where he spent the remainder of his life living in the stone hermitage he built for himself on Cat Island.  Almost to the end of his life he continued to design, build, renovate or extend many other buildings there.  After his death in 1956 he was laid to rest in a cave beneath his hermitage, in accordance with his detailed instructions.

There are other books about John Hawes, including two biographies and a detailed study of his architectural works. This book is a simple photographic appreciation of his remarkable legacy.  Click here for a preview of some of the content.

The book can be viewed/purchased at the following locations:

* Monsignor Hawes Heritage Centre next to to the cathedral, in Geraldton

* Perenjori Visitor Centre

* Priest House Museum in Mullewa

* Carnarvon Papershop newsagent and bookshop, 36 Robinson St Carnarvon

If none of these works for you, you can contact us directly to view or purchase a copy.  Single-copy pricing and postage details are as follows:

Where you areBook pricePostage
In Perth, Western Australia $40 Not applicable, we will deliver,
and take payment (cash or card)
In Australia, outside of Perth WA $40 $10
Outside Australia AU$36 Depends on location, contact us

Payment within Australia can be by bank transfer or PayPal, or if you still use cheques, you are welcome to send us a cheque.  We can also do payment by credit or debit card, but at this stage only by phone or face-to-face.  If you are comfortable with telephone transactions, contact us and we can sort out a mutually convenient way to do it.  Overseas purchasers, please use Paypal.  If you wish to purchase books for resale, please contact us for pricing.

There is an organisation in Geraldton called Monsignor Hawes Heritage Inc, dedicated to promoting the John Hawes heritage and the preservation of the buildings. Their website is at

In late 2012, the Geraldton Diocese initiated a project to do a significant renovation of the cathedral, and build a heritage centre in the area to the west of the main entrance, to display historic material about the cathedral and the life and work of John Hawes.  The first actual work started in early 2015 with the removal of the old asbestos roofing: the nave, transepts and sanctuary were re-roofed in terracotta tiles and the dome in zinc.  This was the start of nearly 3 years of work, and the expenditure of nearly A$9 million.  The cathedral finally re-opened in November 2017 with only a few details remaining to be tidied up, including the installation of the new carillon of bells.  After many delays this was completed in late 2019 and the dedication and first official ringing was on 29th November.

The renovation has transformed the cathedral into something truly magnificent.  It is a reason to visit Geraldton, if it was not already.  The project website is at