Australias only Spanish Town, New Norcia is situated 132km north of Perth, a drive of about one and a half hours. The drive also takes in the beautiful Swan Valley. New Norcia is named after the birthplace of St Benedict, the founder of the Order of Benedictine Monks. New Norcia is situated on the Moore River, in the Victoria Plains.
The New Norcia Mission was founded 1846; Benedictine Monks Dom Rosendo Salvado and Dom Joseph Serra, and their small party trekked on foot from Perth to Noondagoonda Pool, some 8 km north of what is now New Norcia some six weeks later. Good relations were established with the aboriginal people of the Victoria Plains and foundation stone of the chapel was laid and the first primitive dwelling and chapel in 1847 were completed on the anniversary of their arrival. Under the stewardship of the monks, New Norcia was Aboriginal mission from 1846 to 1900 and schools from 1908 to 1991.
Father Placid Spearritt, Abbot of New Norcia said in an addressoThe grand vision has always been a core community of monks who lived and prayed together and were open to the practical love of their neighbours in whatever ways were most needed at the time. This is my grand vision for the future too. A monastery that is defined in terms of some one definite work has got its priorities upside down. Besides, it is more exiting not to know too much in advance which way the Spirit of the Lord and the cries of the poor will direct us in the future.
The New Norcia Heritage Trail follows the development of the township, beginning at the New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery. Allow a leisurely three hours to complete the trail, which includes The New Norcia Museum, the New Norcia Art Gallery, St Gertrude College, the Statue of Rosendo Salvado, the historic cemetery, St Ildephonsus College, the historic Flour Mill and the Monastery among many other places of interest.
New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery
The New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery houses one of the finest collections of movable heritage in Australia. See paintings given to the New Norcia Monastery by the Queen of Spain; and early artefacts; including a cartoon from the workshop of Raphael, entitled oHead of an Apostle. This New Norcia treasure is the cartoon for work commissioned by Pope Leo X in the 1500s, being for the oDescent of the Holy Spirit tapestry, hanging above the altar in the Capella Paolina in the Vatican.
The Great New Norcia Robbery
Summer of 1986 saw crooks flew from Sydney to Perth; drive to New Norcia and steal 26 seventeenth and eighteenth century paintings from the New Norcia Museum; all collected over 140 years at New Norcia. The New Norcia treasures were carelessly bundled up to escape. The Major Crime Squad caught the thieves in NSW and all but one of the paintings were returned to New Norcia. The New Norcia monks could not afford the cost of restoration so stabilized and stored the paintings and established a collection of contemporary Australian art.
The New Norcia Australian Contemporary Art Gallery
The monks at New Norcia have over 50 works of contemporary Australian art, including paintings, sculpture and craft including pieces from the Mandorla Exhibition for Religious Art.
This elegant hotel epitomises the Art Deco era of the late 1920s when it was first built as a hostel. The magnificent central staircase and high moulded ceilings in the hotel are exemplary examples of high Art Deco, in a most unusual situation.
New Norcia bread and New Norcia Olive oil are available from the village shop and a delightful range of local produce, art, books and music is available from the New Norcia Gift Shop.
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