New Norcia - Places to See

New Norcia Heritage Trail

The most sensible way to explore New Norcia is to follow the two short heritage trails (combined they take about 3 hours) which are detailed in the New Norcia Heritage Trail: The Development of the Benedictine Settlement at New Norcia, Western Australia.

Museum and Art Gallery
Any visit to New Norcia should include the major buildings in the complex. It is sensible to start at the Museum, Art Gallery and Shop where the Heritage Trail brochure can be purchased and where some of the treasures of the monastery are on display. The museum houses the daily requirements of the monks and shows what their daily life involved - a medical display, an agricultural display, a display of Aboriginal artifacts. The art gallery is a mixture of European religious art (including the fascinating story of the theft of art works from the gallery and the destruction of those works by rolling up the canvases - it is now estimated to cost over $100 000 to repair the recovered canvases - the damage the thieves did to the canvases can be seen) and modern Australian religious art - some indifferent and others truly inspirational. The Museum and Art Gallery are open from 10.00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m. daily.

New Norcia Monastery
Then there is the Monastery which, although built in the early years of this century, is actually located on the site where the first mission building was constructed in 1847.

New Norcia Hotel
The New Norcia Hotel was built in 1927 as a guest house for parents visiting their children in the schools. It is now a hotel for people who want to stay in the area or who want to enjoy a meal.

Abbey Church
The Abbey Church is a wonderful example of bush architecture combining stones, mud plaster, rough hewn trees and wooden shingles. It was originally built as a typically Georgian church but Abbot Torres' additions gave the building a decidedly Mediterranean feeling. On the wall of the church is the painting of The Mother of Good Counsel (otherwise known as Our Lady of Good Counsel) which was the subject of the first miracle to occur at the settlement. During 1847 a bushfire threatened New Norcia and Dom Salvado produced the painting, pointed it in the direction of the flames, prayed, and the wind promptly changed direction and the bushfire dissipated.

Other Buildings
St Gertrude's Girls Residence was built in the Gothic Revival style and completed in 1908 with elaborate gables and a stucco and brick exterior. The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart were entrusted to run it as a girl's boarding school.

The local Police Station was originally the old Novitiate. Built in 1876 it has, at various times, been used as a guest house and as worker's quarters. It has a particularly impressive sundial on the northern wall.

St Ildephonsus' Boys Residence is less imposing that St Gertrude's. Designed by Abbot Torres its style is Byzantine influenced. It was opened in 1913 and originally staffed by the Marist Brothers. The Benedictines took over the teaching in the college in 1965

The New Flour Mill, reputedly the oldest working flour mill in Western Australia, was built in 1879. It is still operational and flour from the mill is used to produce the bread which is baked in the monastery's ovens. There is a display on the first floor. Ask at the Tourist Information Centre for access. The Old Flour Mill over the road dates from the 1850s and is the oldest surviving building in New Norcia.

Bishop's Well and Bishop Torres Beehouse
Across Moore River are the Bishop's Well and Bishop Torres Beehouse (which is not open to the pubic). The well is the largest surviving example of wells which the monks sunk in the surrounding region. The beehouse is an unusual octagonal shape.

People wishing to read more on New Norcia should get a copy of The Story of New Norcia, published by The Benedictine Community of New Norcia, which is available around the town.