New Norcia – Australia’s Only Monastic Town
My recent day tour to the unique town of New Norcia reminded me of why it is an excellent destination for a day trip from Perth. New Norcia was founded in 1846 by Spanish monks & is to this day still run by monks, making it Australia’s only monastic town. The trip from Perth is a leisurely hour & a half drive on good quality sealed country roads. The scenic countryside on the journey provides a constant reminder of how fortunate we are to live in Perth & it’s beautiful & easily accessible countryside.
As you arrive in town the first thing you notice is the remote location & you cannot help but think of the extreme hardship & suffering that the founding monks must have experienced as they devoted their lives to this place. The beautifully preserved historic buildings & the serenity of the monks present day lifestyle make it easy to forget the difficult years of extreme temperatures, hard physical labor, sweat & blood that have been invested by the early monks to create the very enjoyable & truly unique experience that visitors enjoy today.
The town is run today mainly by volunteers who help the monks preserve the town through tourism, which funds much of the preservation & upkeep of the beautiful old buildings. There are guided tours twice a day which allow the visitors access inside the beautifully preserved buildings. These tours are very interesting & informative & truly allow one to appreciate what has been achieved in creating this remarkable town in such a remote & harsh landscape.
Visiting the museum is a must & provides an opportunity to purchase some great reminders of your visit, such as locally produced wines, bread, & preserves. The quality of this local produce is excellent & as you sit at home some time after your visit, & sample these local wares, you will be reminded again of what a great day you had in one of Australia’s most unique towns.
Deciding to have a cold beer or a hot lunch means visiting the New Norcia hotel, again run by the monks. This beautiful building looks like a Spanish hacienda with white stucco brickwork, & ornate full-length verandas on both levels. There is a lovely outdoor beer garden where you can sit on a nice day & just kick-back & relax for a while before continuing your New Norcia experience or heading home at your visits end.
My guests decided that their favourite building to visit was the New Norcia Mission church where the founding monk, Bishop Rosendo Salvado, is buried inside the church. The walls are painted with scenes depicting the Stations of the Cross & other religious & historical scenes. Above the door is a very large tapestry in rich, vibrant colour depicting Jesus being brought before Pilot. You can visit the church on your own without having to be part of a town tour group.
Just walking around the town on a nice day is a very relaxing & enjoyable experience. It is a peaceful place where you can reflect on the town’s history & become a part of it while you are there. To anyone who is visiting Perth in WA, I strongly recommend a day trip to New Norcia as an experience you will remember very fondly.