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25 May 2012 / leggypeggy

Nosing around New Norcia

The Abbey Church

New Norcia was a delightful and unexpected side trip in Western Australia. We would probably never have gone there except that Kate, the friend we stayed with in Perth, has strong ties to New Norcia and goes there quite often.

It’s only two hours north of Perth and, on the way, we had lovely stops at the Coorinja Winery and another village, Toodyay.

Two Spanish Benedictines—Rosendo Salvado and Joseph Serra—established New Norcia in 1846 as a way to minister to the local Aborigines. They named it after a town in Italy, the birthplace of St Benedict.

A New Norcia chapel

Today New Norcia is Australia’s only monastic town and, as such, a popular tourist destination. It’s brimming with history and well worth a detour from Perth.

We had the good fortune to be shown around by one of New Norcia’s long-term residents, Dom Christopher. He has a huge passion and vast knowledge for his home. He’s also an active curator of the community’s impressive museum and art gallery (just one photo because they aren’t really allowed).

Dom Christopher, walked and talked us through New Norcia’s vast grounds and many buildings, including the gallery, education centre, convent, chapels, conference centre, former boarding schools, orphanages and more.

New Norcia is also capitalising on its culinary history. The bakery, built in 1886, is still producing breads, nutcakes and biscotti. The community also produces olive oil, wines, port and beer.  We learned that New Norcia’s last Spanish Benedictine monk died just two years ago, at age 99, and was making bread and olive oil virtually until his end.

We were interested to hear that ghosts live in New Norcia. Not surprising, given that the cemetery is in the centre of town. We didn’t see any and, as far as we know, none came home in the car with us.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Louise M Oliver / May 26 2012 10:39 am

    Hi Peggy,
    Many thanks for this. The photos are lovely and so are the chapels. Like many other things, it’s on my list of places to visit eventually.


    • leggypeggy / May 26 2012 10:49 am

      New Norcia is a lovely place and with so much history.


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