As it is an easy 90minute drive to Perth, so we decided to spend the morning exploring New Norcia, and have lunch before heading to Perth airport. We had breakfast in the hotel, and the highlight was the multigrain fruit bread from the New Norcia Bakery – so fresh and full of fruit and not really sweet. First stop was the museum and art gallery. The monastic town has a history of colonising missionaries, death of large numbers of Aboriginal inhabitants from disease, stolen generations of Aboriginal children, and institutional sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, which is confronting and sobering to reflect on. In the museum there is an acknowledgement of the abuse and neglect that occurred in the early 20th century and an apology to those harmed by the present monks. The art gallery houses post-renaissance Italian and Spanish works dating from the 16th century and contemporary Australian religious artwork. I have a particular fondness for religious statues, which I find both beautiful and unintentionally funny.
At the museum we learned that we couldn’t do the full two-hour self-guided river walk because there were guests staying at the Pig Keepers Cottage (Guesthouse Hermitage) and the water level was too high to cross the ford.
We walked past the Old Flour Mill, the Blacksmith’s Shop, and Olive Workshop toward the river and the Farm Road Bridge. The signposting was confusing, giving the impression that gate shouldn’t be opened, but there was no other way to access the bridge (we double checked when we returned to the museum, and suggested that the sign be changed). Similarly there was no signposting of the path to approach the Apiary, and it was obvious that people before us had simply climbed the fence near the bridge and set off across the field in a direct line toward the Apiary. As I didn’t want to climb the fence, I persisted until I found the path. Near the apiary there’s the stone Bishop’s Well.
The first stop on our road trip was Guilderton, at the mouth of Moore River; our last stop was New Norcia, at the source, or at least one of the sources: East Moore River.
We returned to the New Norcia Hotel and enjoyed a shared platter for lunch in the courtyard before heading back to Perth through scenic Bindoon, and the Swan Valley, just in time for Fiona’s flight :)