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Our first outing - based in Dongara

Day 1

sunny 24 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

We drove about 118km out to New Norcia, a place we visited several times while living in Perth. Steve actually got to drive "The Beast", albeit only for about 9 or 10km. Shifting foot from accelerator to brake was not yet quite as smooth as we would like as his thigh still stiffens up but still progress. On the way we noticed vast expanses of canola (oil seed rape in the UK) which seems to have taken over from wheat to some extent.

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- sadly we found many areas where canola had self-seeded and taken over from wildflowers beside the road.

Norcia is the birthplace of St Benedictine in Italy, hence New Norcia. New Norcia is not a town but rather a monastic community. It was founded by Rosendo Salvado and Joseph Serra, Spanish Benedictine monks, in 1846 as a mission to the Aborigines and the foundation stone of the mission building was laid a year later. Construction of the Abbey Church began in the 1850s but the original Georgian design was altered in the early 20th century by the addition of a Latin-style facade and bell tower - very photogenic. Around the same time as this alteration, the building was extended at the rear to house a massive organ which had been brought from Germany in the 1920s.

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- the Abbey Church

The mission building was expanded later in the 19th century and a properly appointed monastery was established. Other buildings include St Gertrude's and St Benedict's (formerly St Ildephonsus's), both formerly colleges, and St Mary's and St Joseph's, former aboriginal orphanages. The colleges are now used for accommodation and various social functions and St Joseph's houses the Museum and Art Gallery.

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- the two former colleges.

As well as the main buildings listed above there is an old mill, a wine press, a hotel. The monastery is renowned for the fine food it produces, particularly olive oil, nutcake and biscotti (the nutcake has our own personal guarantee of excellence!).

We continued into "Wildflower Country" through the farming towns of Moora and Carnamah. Sadly the wild flowers are a bit late this year but we did find some small flowers by the roadside at one spot.

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- a tiny Cowslip Orchid, an unidentified blue flower, a Dancing Spider Orchid and a White Mulla Mulla flower

We detoured towards Perenjori then took a side road back towards Three Springs and came across a great viewpoint at a talc mine. This talc mine is the largest in the southern hemisphere and the second largest in the world. The talc is mined by open-cut method and is exported for use in the paper, paint in ceramic industries. In Western Australia it is also used for cosmetics, agriculture and carving blocks.

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It was then on through Mingenew to our motel at Dongara. We walked into the town and had a tasty Chinese meal at a rather unusual Thai/Chinese restaurant.

And so to bed on Day 1.

Posted by SteveJD 00:34 Archived in Australia

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