In the laundry of the Keswick Convention Centre I picked up a map of the Northern Wheat Belt. I had never been in this area and it sounded interesting. By coincidence, Lesley had thought about this area as well as some of our friends were exploring the area. It occurred to me that this could be combined with a visit to New Norcia as it is sort of in the same direction.
Lesley, my navigator, checked it all out and sure enough it would not be far off the track. Decision was made – New Norcia would be our first stop on our way to explore the northern wheat belt.
The history of this place goes back to the early settlement of Western Australia when two Spanish Benedictine monks decided to come to Australia to found a mission to convert the aborigines to the Christian faith. They named the place New Norcia, after the birthplace of St Benedict, Norcia, in Italy.
Today there are no Spanish Monks left, the nine remaining monks are all Australians. The monastery used to be much larger.
We enjoyed the tour of the town, the only monastic town in Australia. ($15 – $13 concession)
The courtyard of the actual monastery, which is not accessible to the public.
There is an extensive museum and gallery in the grounds that contains a religious artwork exhibition of some renown. We didn’t visit this exhibition, but had ample opportunity to see art in the various buildings we visited.
Pressed tin ceiling.
This used to be the post office, now a private residence.
The flour mill. This is no longer in use as it does not comply with today’s Health and Safety requirements. The monastery still grows wheat which is milled off site. The flour is then used in the monastery’s bakery which produces not only bread but I understand is famous for its biscotti.
The wooden beams in the mill that you can just see in this photo are quite substantial.
The following photos depict panels that tell the story of the six seasons that aborigines divide the year into. They stand in the St. Gertrude’s girl school – today a facility that provides school retreats to learn about aboriginal culture, religion and outer space, the latter being taught by members of the European Space Agency which is situated just outside of town.
Inside the chapel which is part of St Gertrude’s college.
Some of the stained glass windows have very fine details.
After the tour we had lunch in the hotel. This elaborate hotel was built as they expected the Queen of Spain to visit. However this never happened. We both had a burger with salad and chips.
We continued on to Cadoux [CAMP6 WA #556] a rest area near the sporting grounds. This was OK for an overnight stop. Only one train passed us in the middle of the night. We woke up as it approached – at least the whistle blowing right next to us didn’t wake us, but it sure made us jump.