Historic monastic town north of Perth in Western Australia. A tiny slice of the Mediterranean in the vast Western Australian wheatbelt, Spanish-influenced New Norcia is the only monastic town in the country. Settled and owned by Benedictine monks in 1847, its changed very little in the past century, and comprises 17 monks and 40 lay people, living according to a strict daily schedule of prayer, study, work and silent devotion.
The town itself is registered as a National Estate, and is a bona fide architectural marvel, with 27 of 65 buildings classified by the National Trust. The monks still own and operate the grain and sheep farm, and around 70,000 people visit annually – all of whom are invited to join the monks for one of their daily prayer sessions. If you’re feeling particularly devout, you can even try observing the self-imposed complete silence of 12 hours.
“I DEFINITELY FAILED MY VOW OF SILENCE HERE, BUT SAMPLED A SLICE OF HEAVEN WITH THE LOCAL NUT CAKE.” – Catriona Rowntree
And if this living museum doesn’t take your fancy, you can always shoot back to the 21st Century by visiting the European Space Station ground station 8km south of town (entry by prior arrangement). But remember: it’s a radio antenna station for talking to spacecraft in deep space. not a telephone for speaking to God.
WHERE // 132km north of Perth.
DID YOU KNOW? // Its Art Gallery now features a “Robbed and Restored” exhibition, featuring 25 restored paintings from the 26 that were boldly stolen in 1986.