Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Moving closer to Perth, we have decided to spent the night in Lancelin and do a day trip from here out to New Norcia.  It was either Lancelin or Guilderton but the accommodation at Lancelin was at least $15 a night cheaper and it was right on the beach.   It was a council run park and a little tired but it had lovely hot showers and plenty of water and the bonus was that we had ocean views, even if the weather was cold and windy.
Thong Tree in Lancelin
We didn’t divert down any side roads today but headed straight to Lancelin which means we arrived around lunch time.  No sightseeing this afternoon either as we have pretty much be on the go for days and it was nice to just have an afternoon to chill out.  Steve went for a walk down along the beach to the jetty.  He also took his rod down to the beach later in the afternoon to throw in a line… no success today. (I think it was way to windy).

Ian and Kathy also went for a late afternoon walk.  I had a nap and then spent some time trying to get my blog up to day.  I don’t think I have been on top of it since we were in Broome.

Meals are still being held indoors as it is way to cold to sit outside.  We didn’t have a late night as we needed to be up early the following morning an gone by 8am for our drive to New Norcia.  They do a town tour at 11am and we wanted to make sure we were there for that.  New Norcia was about 130kms from where we were staying, so although it was only an hour and a half journey, we wanted a little extra time up our sleeves so that we could stop if we saw anything that interested us along the way, since we were doing a lot of driving off the main highways.  We also needed to stop and get some fuel.  Steve with the help of fuel maps had found a service station at Windmill Roadhouse that was selling diesel for 118.9cpl,  some of the cheapest we have come across so far.  
Some rather nifty gates we saw leading into a property on our drive this morning.

The Windmill Roadhouse had these parking meters installed.
We saw emus on our way this morning also.
Fueling up at the Windmill Roadhouse.
 The drive to New Norcia was magical,  the wildflowers never cease to amaze us in their colour and coverage of the highways and hills, and once again we were in awe of the fields and fields and roadsides ablaze with colour.  In places they were like giant purple carpets covering the hills.  
More wildflowers growing by the side of the road.
the hills were covered in colour
  We stopped on several occasions to take photos.   In fact a couple of times, I almost felt like closing my eyes so that I couldn’t be tempted to want to keep stopping and capturing the beauty.  I must admit though, the photos do not do it justice.  They help you remind you of the senses you experiences when seeing such beauty but they fail to capture what you senses experience.  

New Norcia
We arrived in New Norcia just after 10am which gave us plenty of time to have a look around before the tour of the Monastical town ( the only one in Australia) started.

New Norcia  was founded in 1848 by two Spanish Benedictine monks, Bishop Rosendo Salvado and Bishop Dom Joseph Serra who travelled to Australia to set up missions. They were granted 7,500 hectares of freehold land which they developed into the New Norcia Mission and a profitable farm. Eventually becoming one of the most successful missions in Australian history.

The town was named after Norcia, a town in the Umbria Province of Northern Italy in honour of the birthplace of the Order's founder, St Benedict.Salvado's original idea was to create a self-sufficient town based on Christian ideals and agriculture. In 1867 Bishop Salvado was appointed Abbot.

During the 1860's-70's the mission flourished with the monks building a series of wells, breeding horses, producing silk & olive oil and growing grapes, almonds, dates & carob. After developing his mission for over fifty years. When Salvado died in Rome in 1900, the local aboriginals were inconsolable. So strong was their anguish, it is said that they greatly influenced the decision to bring his body back from Italy. Today Salvado's body lies in a tomb in the Abbey Church.
Their bread is amazing...

Some of their balsamic vinegar
Their olive oil..

The entry fee was pretty reasonable as it cost us $22.50 each ( that was with a concession) and that entitled us to the 2 hour tour of the town, entrance to both the Museum and the Art Gallery, and the rest of the day to wander as we pleased.  

Just like my grandmothers

Whilst waiting for the tour to begin, we had a look through the Museum, and read about the early days of New Norcia, and the Benedictine Monks.  At one stage there were between 70 and 80 Benedictine monks living at New Norcia, but today the number is only 10, and most of these are elderly in their 70’s and 80s.  We did meek Dom Paul, a Benedictine monk who was in his 30’s.  He has a doctorate in Music and is the musical director at New Norcia. He actually performed for us in the Abbey Church on both the piano and the pipe organ.

Our tour started at 11am, and our guide Gary first took us to the Abbey,  we had to hurry to get there as he wanted us catch one of the monks playing the piano and pipe organ, and I am so pleased we did as Dom Paul was excellent and really gave us a performance, especially on the Pipe Organ.
Heading to the Abbey
Dom Paul gives us a small concert on the piano and the pipe organ
Heading to the Abbey

The Pipe Organ arrive at the Abbey when Dom Moreno, the Abbey Organist at the time was given a 1000 pound budget to purchase an organ in Germany when he went there to further  his musical study.   The organ was designed in consultation with  Dom Moreno and built in 1922 by Albert Moser of Munich.  It was displayed at the German trade exhibition in Munich in 1922 before it was dismantled, packed in 24 zinc–lined cases and shipped to Australia, arriving at Fremantle on 21 April 1923.  It was installed at New Norcia from April to August 1923 by Dom Stephen Moreno, assisted by his brother Dom Henry Moreno, Dom Boniface Gomez, Dom Vincent Quindos and an aboriginal boy Harry Weston.  The opening concert was given by Stephen Moreno on Sunday 2 September 1923.

Bishop Rosendo Salvado was bought back from Rome and buried in the Abbey

After Dom Paul’s performance we had a look through the Abbey, admiring the many paintings, and we were also introduced to displays of art work that grace the walls of the abbey in particular, a form or art called “sgraffito”.

 In 1967 the Benedictine community at New Norcia, Western Australia, commissioned a large scale mural of the Stations of the Cross for the Church from the Czech-born artist, Josef Kucík (1912–1993). This mural is unusual because it is executed in sgraffito and extends beyond the traditional fourteen scenes to include supplementary pictures, some of which are connected with the history of the Benedictine Order in New Norcia. Sgraffito is a technique of wall decor, produced by applying layers of plaster tinted in contrasting colours to a moistened surface.

The Benedict Monks Coat of Arms
 Once we finished our tour inside the Abey it was out the front door where we had a good look at the outside of the church.
the Abbey Church

From the entrance to the church you look straight down to the Gates of the Monastery and that was our next port of call.  As monks still live there today, we did not go in but were given the details about the building and in particular the gates.  
Looking down from the Abbey to the Monastery
The Monastery

One of the Monks cars
Monastery Gates
Then it was back across the paddock past the Olive Grove to the Education Centre where we visited the their Deep Space Ground station where we saw a video which was informative in how New Norcia was chosen to  house one of the world's largest antennae's.  It was  built near New Norcia by the European Space Agency.  Having visited the Carnarvon Space and Technology Centre, which assisted NASA with placing men in space, it was interesting to see the significant role Australia plays in the Space Tracking and Exploration, world wide.
Olive Groves
Heading towards the Education Centre

We were fortunate to be on site when they were running one of their printing workshops, so we got to visit and see their  old printing press in operation.  Interestingly enough, we also found out where upper and lower case letters come from.  There are two boxes that have all the alphabetical letters, the Capital Letters sit in a box above the lowercase letters, hence the names upper and lower case.  Of course I had to take a photo of the boxes.

Upper and Lower Case

The Flour Mill was our next port of call, where we were able to see the old steam engine that ran their milling machines.  They also had a big milling stone and several other machines that are used to process the wheat into flour to use in the baking of the New Norcia bread they are so famous for.  

One of the many wells in New Norcia

 The tour concluded with a visit to both St Ildephonsus’ and St Gertrude’s Colleges, which are striking enough from the outside but the highlight was discovering what awaited inside!   We discovered, beautiful chapels with interiors reminiscent of what you’d expect to find in the finest chapels in Italy.
St. Ildephonsus - New Norcia
St Ildephonsus Chapel


 Once we had been through the chapel we were taken to look through the old dormitories and school.
From St Ildephonsus, we walked across the paddock to St Gertrudes, the girls school and had a look through their chapel.

St Gertrudes
Entrance to St Gertrude's Chapel

St Gertrude's Chapel
One of the angel children in this painting is an Aboriginal child.
  It was 1pm by the time we finished our walking tour, and we were feeling a little thirsty and hungry, so decided to head down to the New Norcia Hotel for lunch, and what a lunch it was.  Everything was fresh, produce from the farm, bread baked by the monks, and lovely surroundings.  The meals were huge, in fact so big that we didn’t bother having dinner that night,  we were still too full to warrant eating again. 

New Norcia Hotel
Enjoying Lunch out together
Ian's lunch
Steve's lunch
Steve's lunch
Ian and Kathy
Steve and I
Ian even managed to find a piano to have a tinker on..
Ian enjoying a play on the piano.

After lunch we made our way back up to the Information Centre and Gift Shop to finish looking through the Museum and Art Gallery.
 New Norcia Art Gallery houses one of the largest collections of moveable religious art in Australia. There are paintings by Spanish and Italian Masters and contemporary Australian artists, as well as gifts from the Queen of Spain and artefacts tracing New Norcia's eclectic history.  It was well worth the visit.  

 They also have a special piece of Raphael Art.  The Raphael Room houses the cartoon entitled, “Head of an Apostle”. This work is part of a larger scene depicting the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It was commissioned by Pope Leo X in the 16th century along with a number of other preliminary works which were then woven into tapestries in Brussels. The tapestry “Descent of the Holy Spirit” currently hangs in the Capella Paolina in the Vatican. Over its almost 60 years at New Norcia this painting has been given a number of unofficial titles: Study in Distemper and Head of St John the Baptist. This painting is the only one of its kind in Australia – either in public or private hands.

It was probably 3.30pm before we were ready to leave New Norcia.  Kathy had read about a very scenic drive that took you down towards Toodyay, so we decided to drive the extra 50kms or more and drive home this way.  

The scenery was pretty spectacular on the drive home also
While the drive was lovely through lovely green fields with cattle and sheep grazing, the wildflowers on this stretch of the road were not as prolific as they were on the drive this morning.   We arrived home just as the sun was setting. 
It has been a big day,  but one we have all enjoyed immensely.   It was definitely worth the drive and I would recommend it to anyone.


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