Thurs 21 Nov Thurs night markets at Scarborough Beach. Stalls, lots of food trucks, live music and there was to be fire-jugglers if the wind eased. The kite-boarders were loving the breeze, with a couple of them really working the waves well too.
Fri 22 Nov
We had dinner with Trevor and Frances again, this time with the addition of Richard, Pieta, and 21/2yr old Henry. Yes, he did make us keen for some twin time.
Sun 24 Nov day trip 130km north to New Norcia, the only monastic town in Australia. (The original Norcia is the birthplace of St Benedict, in Perugia, Italy.) While visiting Rome, the bishop of Perth found some keen young Spanish Benedictines who were prepared to come and be missionaries to Aborigines in Australia. Led by Rosendo Salvado, they walked north from Perth. The local Yuat people looked after them with finding water sources and local foods.
Salvado tried to prepare the Yuat for the future with white immigrants, by teaching them literacy and farming techniques. As a spaniard from a lot wetter area he would have had a lot to learn himself first. He also travelled to defend aborigines in court. The aboriginal school they ran was referred to as an orphanage, which wasn't really accurate.
Salvado paid his aboriginal employees the same as his white workers, which was unheard of. He'd bought up the surrounding land so that they could go walkabout without getting into trouble, and their jobs were available when they returned.
When the telegraph arrived he appointed an aboriginal girl as operator. After she became ill with TB he appointed another one. The Perth authorities didn't believe this was possible and thought that it was really the monks on the morse key. They even had people come up and watch over the girl's shoulder to try and work out the trickery. Unfortunately, subsequent abbots didn't have his facility for languages or his passion for assisting the aboriginal people.
In 1908 under, Abbot Torres, the very large St. Ildephonsus boy's boarding school was opened on the site, miles from anywhere. As most schooling finished by age 12-14, this was unusual, but was soon full. St. Gertrudes girls school was built and opened in 1913, also soon filled. The monks got 5 marist brothers in to teach the boys, and Spanish Teresian nuns to teach the girls and later Spanish Benedictine nuns.
They'd had an influx of more spanish Benedictines monks at that stage with architectural, building, and artistic skills and these buildings are very impressive, built with locally made bricks. The church has very good sgraffito stations of the cross, where layers of different coloured plaster are applied and scratched to the depth you need for your illustration. When at the girl's school someone on our tour asked why there was a curtain around the back of the altar. The answer was that it was concealing a very poorly done sgraffito.
Benedictines usually have to be self-funding, and the whole history here has been a financial battle from the beginning. There are currently 10 monks, aged between 45 and 88.
The European Space Agency has a site with radio telescope 8km from New Norcia.