Moora - New Norcia - Gingin
After a good stay at Jurien Bay it was time to leave. Instead of taking the coastal route, we decided to head inland to Moora, another town located in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt, on the banks of the Moore River, about two hours’ drive north of Perth.
This area was once only known for wheat and sheep farming, now different types of grain are grown and people come to see wildflowers.
Moora was a town I was pleasantly surprised with. As with many of these wheatbelt towns, they now are catering to bring tourists to their town.
Here they had 'The Carnaby Cockatoo Interpretive Walking Trail,' an easy flat walk of 3.5 kms one way, starting at Apex Park and following the banks of the Moore River where the Carnaby Cockatoo lives, I was lucky enough to see a flock of them. Interpretive signs are along the trail.
Moora had a town walk I followed, beginning at the Moora Town Clock that had been refurbished with beautiful stained glass panels, replacing the original clock tower from the late 1950s. It had interpretive boards on each side explaining what each stained glass panel represented.
The northern side displayed "a country theme with sunshine and music as its base, depicted by a didgeridoo, guitars, music notes, country style hats, stars and a abstracted sun."
The eastern side is made up of "local Aboriginal icons, which includes turtles, fish and kangaroos set into the shape of a water bird standing-stock still, as in camouflage. The clasped hands appear below an abstract tree."
The Southern Panel represents a "family unit made up of father, mother and three children in negative flat steel form surrounded by a stained glass design depicting garden flower."
Some-how, I missed the western Panel, probably because the sun was in the wrong direction. It is lit at night, although I wasn't here to see it, I read the panels stand out at night better than in the day time.
The Drover's Inn
My next stop was at the Drover's Inn, a typical Australian hotel built with spacious verandahs to give respite from the hot sun.
Mr. FWG Liebe who constructed His Majesty's Theatre in Perth was the builder of this Hotel too, as such, there are some similarities to "His Majesty's Theatre,", like the polished staircase, domed lounge hall , finely carved oak mantles, polished cedar bars and marble tiles. The exterior was built from local freestone and machine made bricks.
Across the road was the old Post Office which was still being used today. It was a very strong looking building with white stone walls and a gabled roof. A colonial Architect created the style.
A favorite with me on the town walk was Federation Park, created in 2001 to celebrate the centenary of Federation.
The three sculptures in the park are all to do with working on the land.
The first is the Australian Draught horse. There's a beaut sculpture of this massive horse that was brought to Western Australia in the late 1830s, up till then, the heavy draught work was done by Bullock teams. When the agricultural industry took off after the gold rushes, these draught horses were needed. They were known as the gentle giants, and were very important in opening the land up for rural use.
Beside the Draught horse, is the Kelpie, an Australian sheep dog, used for mustering and droving sheep with little or no guidance.
It's master (farmer) whistles and the dog knows what the whistle means and obeys! These dogs were a lot of help to the early settlers.
Lastly, is the beautiful mural on the wall showing Draught horses standing while the cart they are pulling is loaded with hay.
Federation Park is all about remembering the hard work these animals did in opening up the area for settlement and commemorates Moora's agricultural heritage.
I crossed the road as I had noticed a mural on the Moora Shire council office building that faces the park.
Shire council mural
This one tells the story of how the water tables have risen, as a result, the land has become salty and is no good for anything. We saw a lot of this and many salt lakes in Western Australia. When the land was cleared, not a tree was left standing, later they found out his was a big mistake! Now they are trying to reverse the damage by planting many trees, this you can see in the mural.
Moora Shire 100 years old
Also in the park is the 100th Anniversary sculpture commemorating Moora Shire celebrating 100 years in 2009. The sculpture depicts the culture and heritage of the local community, complete with an indigenous painting.
Only a short walk from the Murals was the Victorian gothic, St. James Church. Up until 1911, church services were held at the Moora police station, then this delightful little church was built. It really had an English feel to it, I loved the stone work and its English appearance. I read it was built similar to the one at Stoneyfield in England, the birthplace of Walter Padbury, who bequeathed a large amount of money for its construction. I had just been walking along Padbury street.
Another mural close by really surprised me, as it showed Moora devastated by floodwaters in 1999, when a one in 300 year flood occurred! Walking around on a hot day on dry and dusty dirt made this hard to imagine.
This happened in the early hours of March 21st, 1999, catching the town by surprise. If you have ever witnessed flood waters, you will know how fast and furious they travel, this is what happened here, not helped by the early hours either.
The mural shows the town and the depth of the water, it was deep!
Once again, people rallied around, helping to sandbag the town, give help and support, a shoulder to cry on, and gave donations of food, clothing and money. This was country people at their best.!
1999 must have been a bad year, as another two floods came through the town, one in May and the other in August.
My walk took me through a nice garden where a sculpture was of a leaf, then over the railway line to the sculpture 'Scrap Iron.'
During WWII, Army training camps were located at Moora. It is estimated 50,000 men went through these camps. Once again, the people of Moora supported these men. The ladies of the Red Cross knitted socks, balaclavas and scarves and did other helpful tasks for troops stationed in the area, and for those in Perth hospitals and overseas.
It was here the war memorial stood and the tin soldier known as 'Scrap Iron', made by local artists as a tribute to the servicemen in the Moora area during WW I 1939 - 45. Across the road was a Mural depicting an Army scene.
I was wondering why there were so many murals, then I found out Moora is a town on the Painted Road trail, which if you follow, you will find more towns with murals.
After doing plenty of walking in Moora, I was glad to sit in the car and rest my feet before our next stop at New Norcia.
We hadn't gone far and we were pulled over by the Police as a wide load was coming through and completely taking up the whole road, quite a sight to see machinery this huge and one with so many wheels!
I had read quite a bit about our next town - New Norcia - Australia's only Spanish town and only Monastic town.
"The town was named "New Norcia" in memory of the spot the founder was born."
Since 1847, it has been run and owned by a group of Roman Catholic Monks. Designed in the style of a Spanish Benedictine village, New Norcia has grandiose buildings standing in amongst the Australian landscape. It takes your breath away when you first set eyes on it!
Did I see a Monk? No, I think they were hiding inside the Monastery. Monks here are independent of others and promise to remain in the Monastery for the rest of their lives, they are known as‘Benedictines’
"All monks should greet anyone who arrives at their monastery gates as "if it were God Himself who had knocked."
It all began in 1846, when some Benedictine monks arrived here to establish a Mission for the area's Aboriginals. It was here I read all about their journey, how their first building was a Bush Chapel, and how New Norcia grew to what I was viewing today.
I followed the heritage trail past most of the buildings. Every building has a interpretive board so I knew what I was seeing.
Located 132 kms from Perth, it's an easy day trip, so no wonder more than 700,000 people come to see the town every year!
Don't expect lots of souvenir shops or anything like that, it isn't touristy at all! You can buy a few things at the Art Museum & gift shop as the monks produce Olive Oil, Beer, and Nut Cake to sell.
Unfortunately I found the interior of many of the buildings had to be done on a day tour, as I hadn't allowed time for this, I missed seeing the interiors.
One building was St. Gertrudes, built in 1908 as a Convent College for the girls who were cared for by the Josephite Sisters. Today it is used by Monks who educate visiting catholic children. Another is St. Ildephonsus, once the Boy's college at New Norcia. The building is no longer a college, but is used for large groups who can come and stay here.
I found a small Flour Mill and another larger one, this was because the original mill became too small to handle all the wheat being grown in the area that was leased by the Mission. The Mill produced enough flour to sustain New Norcia. Bread, Macaroni and Spaghetti was made from the flour.
Small Flour Mill
In the 1850's, this original Flour Mill used to be surrounded by shearing sheds, stables and other buildings, now it sits alone! It is one of the oldest surviving buildings in New Norcia
The Large Flour Mill
Bread is now baked in the Monastery's New Bakehouse daily in a wood-fired oven to a century old Benedictine technique.
Opposite the old original Flour Mill, is the old Police station. The building was built with similar features to the rest of the town. .
Mission cottage and the Old Police Station
Mission Cottage was an old white-washed house built as a two room cottages for Aboriginal couples in the 1850s.
The cottage in my photo was one of these cottages, built in 1860 as a worker's house, slightly longer than the other cottages as it had 3 rooms.
The Monastery is located where the original Mission building from 1847 was once located. The Monks once had 55 people working for them, today, there are still about 50 people working for the 26 Monks, who live the simple life within the Monastery.
The Monastery has some beautiful wrought iron gates, brought out from England in 1903. Just inside the gates, is a statue of St. Benedict of Nursia, regarded as the father of Western Monasticism.
You can be forgiven for thinking you may be in Spain, as the Abbey Church really looks like a Spanish Church. It was constructed from bush stones and held together with mud plaster and tree trunks. This rather plain Georgian church opened its doors in 1861, since then additons have been made, one of them is the appealing Italian Renaissance influenced façade and Bell Tower. The newest section was built in 1920, especially to house a massive church organ brought back from Germany, only one of two in Australia.
It was the 1870's and the town of New Norcia was growing. Some new buildings were needed to house those who came here to begin their monastic life, so the Novitiate was built and used for that purpose. Most of the building is how it was, only the original shingle roof has been covered with corrugated iron. Look for the sundial on the north wall.
It was still too early to call it a day, so we continued on our way to the town of Gin Gin, a smallish agricultural town surrounded in pretty scenery.
This area was discovered in 1836, by explorer George Fletcher Moore, who used the Aboriginal name of "Jinjin" as his record. In 1841, Gingin station was established, then in 1883, Gingin was declared a township.
At just 92 kms north of Perth and on a weekend, we found it very hard finding a park and the Hotel full and over-flowing! Beside the Hotel was a nice large park in which Gingin Brook was running through. Located here was a replica waterwheel of one that was situated on Gingin Brook at Cheriton Farm used to drive the flour mill.
A picturesque small Church and graveyard caught my eye as I was walking around the park. As it's historic, I was able to learn about it from the information board located at the Church.
St. Lukes Church
Back in 1859, when the land at Gingin was surveyed, 12 acres was allocated to the Church of England. Local residents rallied and managed to raise £160, then the colonial Government chipped in with another £25, enabling St. Luke’s Church to be erected in 1860 and officially opened in 1861. The Church has been in continuous use since then.
It is built from locally quarried Casuarina stone in what is known as vernacular style of architecture which has gothic elements and relates to the English style of Churches.
St. Lukes historic cemetery
Surrounding the Church is a very old cemetery which dates from 1853-1903. It's in this cemetery where graves of the first European settlers of the Gingin district can be found. I think the old style graves are quite lovely as many have intricate iron-work surrounding the plot. In modern times, this never happens.
Finally, our day was coming to an end. We chose to stay at Willowbrook Farm caravan park that had very good reviews, unfortunately, it didn't live up to them.