Santi Forest Monastery

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Santi Forest Monastery

Santi monastery logo

Tradition/Linage Thai, Ajahn Chah
Main School Theravada
Sub School Thai
Founded 2003
Founder(s) Bhante Sujato
President(s) Nicola le Couteur
Director(s) Ajahn Brahm
Contact Infotmation
Address Santi Forest Monastery Coalmines Rd
New South Wales 2578
Country Australia
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Phone +61 2 4883 6331
Postal Address P.O. Box 132 Bundanoon NSW 2578 AUSTRALIA


Santi Forest Monastery is a Buddhist NunsMonastery with facilities for people to visit, study and practice the teachings of the Buddha. For short periods, Monks may visit.

Established by Bhante Sujato in 2003, it is set in the rugged bush ravines of the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia. Santi offers accommodation, teaching, and support for study and practice in the Forest Tradition, with a special emphasis on the earliest teachings of the Buddha that are shared by all Buddhist traditions. Since 2005, the Sangha of Santi has performed ordinations and has become internationally recognized for its advocacy of full ordination for Buddhist nuns (bhikkhunis).

After Bhante Sujato’s departure from Santi in August 2012, the monastery has been handed over to the Bhikkhuni Sangha by Bhante Sujato, a decision supported by Santi’s spiritual director Ajahn Brahm.

History of Santi

The property at 100 Coalmines Road was purchased in 1986 by Elisabeth Gorski. She was a local Buddhist practitioner, who was working with local meditation teacher John Hale to set up a meditation centre. As a fitting precursor to Santi’s role in supporting women’s ordination, one of the founding trustees was the first Western bhikkhuni of modern times, Ayyā Khemā.

The meditation centre never eventuated, and John Hale resettled in Tasmania, where he passed away a few years later. Elisabeth kept the property, and from time to time retreats were held or a monastic would reside, and yet the place never fulfilled its potential. Meanwhile, another local monastery, Suññataram, was set up on land offered by Elisabeth, although entirely independent of the Coalmines Road property.

In 1997, Elisabeth purchased two lots adjacent to the original property, bringing the monastery size to around 150 acres. Shortly afterwards, she went to Perth, where she took ordination under Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Vāyāmā at Dhammasāra NunsMonastery. On October 22nd 2009, she became one of the first group of women to receive full Bhikkhuni ordination in the Forest Tradition in Australia.

Before leaving, Elisabeth established a charitable body, then called Citta Bhavana Incorporated, to manage the Coalmines Road property. This consisted of a small committee, with Ajahn Brahm as the 'Spiritual Director'. At the AGM of 2003, it was agreed that the property should be run as a Forest Monastery under the leadership of Bhante Sujato, and the name was officially changed to Santi Forest Monastery Incorporated. In subsequent years, the constitution was amended to reflect these changes, and Bhante Sujato replaced Ajahn Brahm as the 'Spiritual Director'.

In the Rains retreat of 2003, Bhante Sujato stayed together with just one lay resident. Since then, the monastery has grown rapidly, and now usually has a resident community of around fifteen people.

Teaching & Practice

Santi Forest Monastery is established with three primary goals.

  1. Building a community based on Vinaya
  2. Study of the Buddha’s words in the early scriptures
  3. Meditation in seclusion


The property is wholly owned by Santi Forest Monastery Incorporated, a not-for-profit charity. The management is carried out by a committee that is elected each year. The 2014 committee is:

President – Nicola le Couteur
Secretary – Nilushi Disanayake
Treasurer – Sue Gye
Committee Member – Ruwinie Delgoda

The committee meets monthly, and is charged with ensuring the financial compliance and security of the monastery. They ensure all accounts are kept to the stringent requirements of the Australian charities laws, and are professionally audited each year. In addition, the committee assists with various administrative duties in running the monastery, such as insurance, work safety, and so on.

If you have any inquiries in how the monastery is managed, or monastery finances, don’t hesitate to contact our office.