Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Monday, November 20, 2006

New Norcia 16 -17 November 2006

New Norcia is a really special place to visit as it is still centred around a monastery run by 6 elderly monks and the 70 people they employ to help run it. It was founded by Benedictine monks as a mission in 1849 and was a self contained with a flour mill, bakery, laundry, piggery, winery, orchards, blacksmith, lots of water wells etc. The Benedictine order is Spanish and hence all the buildings, which are still based around the monastery have a uniquely Spanish feel about it. They have an amazing art gallery with post-Renaissance religious art works. 26 of the major works were stolen from their frames in 1986 and all but one found and returned in a “devastated state”. They have been meticulously restored and recently opened to the public. They are bright and luminous in their freshness.We stayed 2 nights at their oval to stay overlooking their wheat crops. We strolled along the riverside walk, took the 2 hour tour and bought the fresh (warm) wood-fired oven bread for morning tea (fruit version) and lunch (wholemeal version.) They make their own wines, olives, speciality cakes and biscuits which we sampled. The whole set up is much bigger than we expected and as no development has intruded on it, it feels like an old European village. The central clock tower certainly let all the local birds know what time it was. The galahs responded to the bells from time to time at night! We drifted off at night to 1-3 bells every 15 mins and then the usual hourly calls. No street lighting and a good re-enactment of the past for us. The history was interesting and the ornate decorations in the buildings, chapels and the Abbey Church very elaborate. It survives on visitors and we were surprised that it was even on ‘Get Away’ last week - maybe that will be the death of it! Though the oldest monk is 94 and the youngest 56, it will be shame when it stops though the town is heritage listed.


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