The Abbey is located on 400 hectares 5kms east of Yarra Glen. In 1954 the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (known also as Trappist monks) from Roscrea, Ireland purchased the former Tarrawarra property from William Houghton for the purpose of establishing a self-sufficient community. The land included Elm Cottage as well as the 1901 homestead building, built for the Macalister family, which became the basis for the Tarrawarra Abbey complex.