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New Norcia Benedictine Community New Norcia Road New Norcia WA 6509
People visit New Norcia for many reasons; for spiritual retreat, to join a tour and see inside the magnificent buildings or sometimes just to walk around the town and enjoy the peace and beautiful scenery.
In this section you will find all the information you need for your visit to New Norcia. Details of places to eat and places to stay, details of the town tours and information about some of our favourite things to do in Australia’s only monastic town.
We recommend your first port of call is the Museum & Art Gallery to speak to one of the staff about the attractions and experiences New Norcia has to offer. The Museum & Art Gallery is also a Visitor Information Centre and is the point from which town tours leave.
Stay at New Norcia
There are so many different options for accommodation at New Norcia.
The Guesthouse is perfect for a quiet, retreat like experience - a world away from the rigours of modern life. You can join a Benedictine retreat here or be housed in the Hermitage for a silent retreat. Groups can be accommodated in the Old Convent or the historic boarding school colleges. Smaller groups are also able to book the Hostel, with its comfortable rooms, neo-classical architecture, scenic deck and heritage veranda, as well as St Ildephonsus' Cottage.
Please click on the areas on the right for more information.
Eat & Drink
Hospitality is a tenet of the Rule of St Benedict, the Rule by which the monks of New Norcia live, so wherever you choose to eat in town, our aim is for you to experience warm monastic hospitality.
Education & Research
From the earliest days of its foundation New Norcia has been focussed on education. The first Abbot, of New Norcia (Rosendo Salvado) established the Aboriginal girls and boys schools and the second Abbot of New Norcia, Fulgentius Torres built and opened the European girls and boys schools, which closed in 1991.
Since the closing of the schools, New Norcia's school buildings and grounds have been utilised by groups undertaking education programmes.
However, New Norcia also has a tradition of research and academia, with its impressive archival records and library collection, and scholars and researchers alike have delighted over the years in the information available in the town's records.
This section also provides information on the archives and library and provides link to forms which will give you access to the records of New Norcia.
Protecting a Unique Heritage
New Norcia is Australia’s only monastic town and has a unique heritage. Founded in 1847 by Spanish Benedictine Monks, the town has had many purposes; a mission, a monastery, a provider of education and now as a place of spiritual retreat.
Delve into the town's unique history, discover the ongoing and completed work necessary for the upkeep and restoration of this special part of Australia.
But it is not only the majestic buildings set amongst the Australian bush that sets New Norcia apart; its history is also encapsulated in the archival records of New Norcia and in the library and museum collections.
In this section we also have information about how you can donate to New Norcia to help the Community restore and maintain this treasure.
What's Happening at New Norcia
We hold a diverse array of events throughout the year at New Norcia.
Each year we host a full programme of events including a spiritual retreat programme presented by the Institute for Benedictine Studies, dinners at the New Norcia Hostel and a few other surprises!
Watch this space for all the updated information about "What's on at New Norcia".
On the weekend of October 28th– 29th, a group of former students from St Ildephonsus’ College came to New Norcia for a reunion, organised by former students Ambrose and Keith.
The mostly 80 and 90 year old “Old Boys”, stayed overnight in their former college dorms, reminiscing about their schooling life in New Norcia. They enjoyed a roast beef dinner along with a few Abbey Ales and other drinks, served in their former refectory. Many commented on the wonderful changes to the refectory since their last visit.
On Sunday morning they had a cooked breakfast followed by Mass in St Ildephonsus’ Chapel, with their dear friend Fr. David as the celebrant. After Mass the “Old Boys” enjoyed a light lunch before farewelling each other and returning home.
New Norcia has completed its Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited (ACSL) 2023 audit.
The 2023 audit assessed New Norcia for both Children and Adults at Risk in line with the second edition of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS). We are pleased to announce that the auditors have assessed us as having “fully implemented and embedded a culture of safeguarding throughout the community.”
This pleasing result is a product not only of the dedicated work of the New Norcia Safeguarding Committee but of the awareness of, and commitment to, safeguarding as being everybody’s responsibility.
Although assessed as 100 percent compliant, when it comes to safeguarding, there are always opportunities for further improvement. The auditors have encouraged us to continue the development of our safeguarding profile by making a few recommendations that will further enhance what is already in place. With safeguarding being a major priority, we have commenced work on the implementation of these suggestions.
Having been closed for several years due to safety concerns, the old shed in the museum and art gallery precinct was demolished in the first weeks of October.
After specialist contractors removed the asbestos roof, it was discovered the steel frame was completely rusted and the concrete floor deemed unstable. It was also more than obvious that the iron sheeting walls and louvre windows had seen better days. Although the building was not heritage listed, Jim Longbottom prepared a comprehensive photographic report using heritage guidelines and our heritage consultants (Urbis) submitted the request to Heritage Council (WA), who subsequently approved the demolition. Originally used as an extension to the laundry in the 1950’s, in recent years the shed housed a display of old farm machinery and domestic equipment such as a meat safe, butter churn and wine press.
These important fragile historical pieces have been carefully transferred to three heritage buildings at the northern end of town – the olive and carpentry shed, the blacksmith’s shop, and the old flour mill, forming three new self-guided exhibitions. We are working on printed and audio-visual interpretation installations with our design partners Axiom, and hope to open these exciting new exhibitions not too far into 2024. The original early 20th C laundry, now in full view, will eventually be restored, providing a sheltered space with seating and vending machines for visitors waiting for the tour, or to enjoy an indoor picnic on a rainy day.
The 5th International Benedictine Oblates Congress
On Saturday September 9th, Pastor John Usher, and Rev Leonie Gaffel, both Oblates of New Norcia from Queensland, joined 150 fellow Oblates from 25 countries across the globe for the 5th International Benedictine Oblates Congress.
Held every four years (although it has been six years since the previous one), this Congress met at Sant’Anselmo Monastery in central Rome, for a week of balanced work and play, interspersing days of workshops and guest speakers with trips to special places, all covered by Morning and Evening Prayer, and daily Mass. There was also a short concert featuring the modern premiere of O Beate Benedicte, a 16th century composition by Allessandro Grandi which honours St Benedict, and has only recently been re-discovered.
Guest speakers included Sr Marie Madeleine Caseau, Prioress of Saint Bathilde of Vanves, France; Abbot Donato Ogliari, Abbot of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, and Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, who spoke on Benedictine hospitality as a path to reconciliation; while the workshops looked at Oblate formation, living out our calling in the 21st century, and explored Islands of Silence and contemplative practice.
Day trips included a visit to Monte Cassino, with guided tours led by the Abbot’s secretary, Mass in the Abbey, and lunch in the Refectory with the monks. Next was a trip Sacro Speco in Subiaco, site of the cave where a young Benedict spent three years of his life, the tour of which was followed by an amazing five-course Italian lunch at the restaurant that forms part of the Subiaco Monastery.
The final day of the Congress saw the group at Vatican Palace, where they were given a private audience with Pope Francis who spoke to the Oblates on three aspects of Benedictine life – ‘a continual search for God’, ‘enthusiasm for the Gospel’, and ‘hospitality’. Following his message, all members of the group had the opportunity to greet the Pontiff, with photos taken of the occasion by Vatican Media.
The Mystery of the Puzzling Document solved
In response to the article in the October Chimes, Margaret Ker of Fremantle has sent the following:
“I think I can shed some light on the mystery document but, unfortunately, it is not the light for which you were hoping. In a nutshell, I don’t believe that it has any possible connection with the Benedictines in general and New Norcia in particular.
I believe that the recipient was Hugh Brown Birch (b. 1876, d. 1901). He was the third son of Henry Birch, a very well-known Perth identity who was a butcher/baker and also a leading Congregationalist and Freemason. Those last two facts of course militate strongly against any substantial link with New Norcia.
Hugh married in 1899 (Sarah Jane Halliday) and my best guess at present is that the document could relate to this event. The key word, understandably read as “Benedictine”, might then refer tongue in cheek to his new status as in numbered among the ‘blessed’ (i.e., benedictos).
The witnesses are an interesting bunch (possibly all married) but the most easily identifiable among them is not Gerald De Courcy Lefroy but De Courcy Gerald Lefroy (gosh I really wish families would not do this!). He lived until 1948.
The others, apart from his employers, seem to have been young men around Hugh’s own age. Apart from the one I too cannot read, they can be traced. I have some rather disorganised sightings that I am happy to share with you and/or Richard [Williams]. Trove, register entries (BMD) and the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board together often combine well.
How or why the document survived (let alone ended up in Doubleview) is just as mysterious as anything else. Hugh’s widow Sarah Jane never remarried (she died in Victoria Park in 1960) and there were no children.”
Thanks Margaret, and thanks to Richard who sent us the certificate; whilst it has apparently nothing to do with New Norcia, the document has at least been saved from the chook shed!
Father Robert at St Patrick’s Basilica Fremantle
On Friday October 27th, more than 100 people were at St Patrick’s Basilica in Fremantle for Father Robert’s wonderful concert performing original compositions from his new album “Celestial Void” as well as beloved works from Rosendo Salvado, Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov.
St Patrick’s is a beautiful venue, and Father Robert filled the Basilica with beautiful music for 1 ½ hours. There were many familiar faces in attendance who regularly visit New Norcia, and those from St Patrick’s made everyone very welcome.
Who was Peter Lewis?
Since at least 1995 there have been regular, recurring requests to the archives for information on “Peter Lewis”.
He has been described as a monk, an alter ego for Fr Francisco Salvadó, as a relative of Bishop Salvado’s and as a workman at New Norcia. Adding to the confusion is that Peter apparently anglicised his name from Pedro Luigi Salvado or something similar. My predecessor, Wendy McKinley, tried valiantly to find out who he was and, in an email to one researcher in early 2007, she wrote “If you find the real story I would love to know it”. The response to that from her correspondent was “I somehow doubt we will ever know the truth about Peter Lewis”.
Sixty-five librarians and library workers came along to New Norcia on Friday, October 20th, to attend the first library lecture since the two-day Archives and Library convention, exactly two years earlier. And, just like that event, the proceedings were held in the beautiful chapel at St Gertrude’s College. Former head of Curtin University’s Library School, Dr Kerry Smith, compèred the proceedings with wit, charm and grace after her introduction by Abbot John.
Like Library Days in the past, the format was for talks in the morning followed by a sumptuous lunch in the newly renovated St Ildephonsus’ College dining room, after which attendees could choose from a variety of walks and visits.
The proceedings began with Nicole Wreford, librarian at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, who gave a talk entitled Post-Covid hybrid library thinking: thinking outside the box in 2023. Nicole was followed by a double presentation from Shane Dowling and Laura Blake from City of Swan. Shane started off by giving us some personal reflections on his life as a librarian which included some fascinating connections to New Norcia; no less interesting was Laura who spoke to us about Library values in the digital age – the evolving role of the public librarian. Finally, we had a most informative and in-depth presentation from Danielle DeGiorgio who is the Digital and Information Literacy Advisor for the Library Services Centre at Edith Cowan University. Danielle’s talk was Beyond the reference desk: transforming learning technology support with library peer assistants.
After lunch our guests were treated to a rare visit to the monastery library, hosted by the monastery’s Liturgist, Fr Robert Nixon; a look at some of the monastery’s rare books in the main library presented by monastery librarian, Dom Paul Forster ably assisted by volunteer Jim Longbottom; a visit to the archives; and a working display of printing in the old Abbey Press, kindly demonstrated by Geoff Moor who has volunteered in the Abbey Press for many years and who very kindly agreed to come up from Roleystone especially for the demonstration.
Calendars Now Available
Hot off the press - the 2024 New Norcia calendar features the works on paper of Fr. Lesmes Lopez OSB. An exhibition in St Ildephonsus’ large and small dining rooms.
This calendar shows the liturgical calendar as celebrated by the Benedictine Community of New Norcia.
With a prize pool of over $50,000, Mandorla is Australia's most significant thematic Christian art prize. The Mandorla Art Award actively fosters a relationship between contemporary fine artists and the writings of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Open to all artists across Australia, working in any medium, Mandorla invites artists to think laterally and with sensitivity by interpreting anew theme for each iteration of the award.