New Norcia Museum
Enter New Norcia and you’ll feel as though you have stumbled upon another era. The magnificent buildings, monastery, olive trees and church bells feel as though they would be more at home in Europe than in the Western Australian bush. The Museum and Art Gallery takes visitors back to New Norcia’s earliest days, to explain how this unlikely township came to life. The Museum’s first storey takes visitors through the mission’s first 50 years, when it was founded and developed under the guidance of Spanish Benedictine monk Rosendo Salvado. Interpretive signage, photos and artefacts paint a picture of this extraordinary man and his dreams of creating a largely self-sufficient village and a place of learning for both monks and local Yued Aboriginal people. The first storey also houses the Art Gallery, which boasts one of the largest collections of religious art in the country. It includes the Australian Contemporary Gallery, featuring about 160 artworks, and the European Gallery, comprising post-renaissance Italian and Spanish works dating from the 16th Century. On the second storey, the Museum reflects on New Norcia’s more recent history, including the varied experiences of students at New Norcia’s boys’ and girls’ schools or ‘orphanages’ - many of them members of the Stolen Generation. Make sure you leave some time to check out the shop, which sells souvenirs as well as bread freshly baked at New Norcia, and beer and wine made from the earliest monks’ original recipes. You can also join guided town tours or pick up a map of an interpreted walk along the river.