New Norcia was founded in 1848 by two Spanish Benedictine monks, Bishop
Rosendo Salvado and Bishop Dom Joseph Serra who travelled to Australia to set up Catholic missions in the new colony of Western Australia. They were granted 7,500 hectares of
freehold land which they developed into the New Norcia Mission and a profitable farm. Their hard work eventually
paid off, as it would become one of the most successful missions in Australian history.
The town was named after Norcia, a town in the Umbria Province of Northern Italy, in honour of the birthplace of
the Order's founder, St Benedict.Salvado's original idea was to create a self-sufficient town based on Christian
ideals and agriculture. In 1867 Bishop Salvado was appointed Abbot.
During the 1860's-70's the mission flourished with the monks building a series of wells, breeding horses,
producing silk & olive oil and growing grapes, almonds, dates & carob. After Salvado's death in 1900 a new
successor arrived from Spain, Bishop Fulgentius Torres. He became the new Abbot and was responsible for the design
and supervision of new buildings. Click here for more History of New Norcia
Things You May Not Know About New Norcia The postcode for New Norcia is 6509.
In the late 1860's Bishop Salvado made a short trip to Colombo in Sri Lanka to obtain information
about cultivating coffee. He intended to experiment with coffee, cinnamon and coconut as potential commercial crops
for New Norcia.
What's an old town without a good ghost story. It is believed that a ghost of a nun dressed in
blue, can sometimes be seen wandering around the clock tower of the monastery just as the bell tolls midnight.
One of the ways Bishop Salvado raised money for New Norcia was to hold a public piano recital.
Bishop Salvado died in Rome at the age of 86, but he requested his body be
returned and buried in New Norcia. Today it is in a tomb inside the Abbey Church.
Twenty seven of the sixty five building spread throughout the five acre site are listed by the
During one of Salvado's trips to Italy, he took two Aboriginal boys from his mission school with
him. On arrival in Italy both boys were clothed in the black Benedictine habit by Pope Pius IX himself. The boys
were then taken to Cava monastery to begin their novitiate. Sadly they both died within a few years of their stay,
due to poor health.
The Abbey Church houses one of only two Moser organs in the world. The organ
was created in Germany and arrived in WA in the 1920's.
Horses bred at New Norcia were of such good quality that for many years they were sold in India for
use by the British Army.
In 1986, 26 paintings from the 16th, 17th and 18th century were stolen from the monastery. All were
recovered except for 'The Annunciation' which was believed to have been destroyed by the thieves after they
couldn't fit it into their getaway car.
In 2003, the 100 tonne New Norcia Satellite dish was to have an active role in the 2003, European Space Agency's "Mission
to Mars" (Mars Express) project . The dish was to be the first to receive data, beamed down from Mars, from the
high tech Beagle 2 Lander. Unfortunately the Lander disappeared down a crater, never to be seen of again.
However, the New Norcia Deep Space Ground Station is now currently involved in the "Rosetta Project", of landing
a craft on the comet Wirtanen, some 900 million kilometres out in space (fingers crossed there are no craters on
Things Are Looking Up In New NorciaIt doesn't take long to realise that the town of New Norcia was built with a
Mediterranean architectural influence. Founded by two Spanish Benedictine Monks it isn't surprising that
Bishop Torres who designed many of the buildings, would add a distinctive European feel to this remote
location. Driving into town from such a rural landscape it comes as almost a shock to see such architecture
in the middle of nowhere. For more about the architecture of New Norcia check here.
Important Links To New Norcia
New Norcia Website
New Norcia Bakeries