Saturday, October 14, 2017

Towards Streaky Bay

We left New Norcia on a very cold morning at just nine degrees. Our drove took us south along the Great Northern Highway for 40 odd kilometres before heading through Toodyay and onto Northam where we refuelled and topped up our water tanks.

We continued south to the lovely town of York. We drove through the town centre with its lovely old buildings, and it is now in the memory banks for a future visit where we can spend three or four days exploring.

Our plan tonight was to camp at Gorge Rock just south east of Corrigin but because it was still quite early in the afternoon we decided to head towards Hyden and camp at the Wave Rock caravan park. All the sites were on dirt and the vast majority were not level but sloping towards the front.

We did the usual touristy things like climbing the rock and taking photos before retreating
back to the van and enjoying a few happy hour drinks. 

Ros prepared a lovely lovely pasta meal with salami and olives before we settled back to watch some TV before retiring. There was no access unless you had a satellite dish and I was really surprised ours was able to receive a signal with such a large tree in our way.

A late start for us this morning after Ros completed a couple of loads of washing. Today we were taking the Hyden to Norseman Road. Its 295 km long with the first 44 km bitumen and the remainder a good quality dirt road. There is a mine along this road and that probably has something to do with the quality of the roads surface. 

Its also part of the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail with sixteen designated stopping places showcasing aspects of each place. One of these was the State Barrier Fence that was previously known as the rabbit proof fence and was constructed between 1901 and 1907 to keep rabbits from entering pastoral lands from the east.

We arrived at McDermid Rock just on 12:30 and decided we would spend the evening here. After lunch we climbed the rock and took some photos before sitting in the shade and reading for the remainder of the afternoon.
We thought that we would have the place to ourselves but around 4:00 several camper trailers followed by two vans and someone towing a boat with the tents in the back turned up for the evening.

Eleven degrees inside the van this morning at 6:30 with the sky overcast and a strong wind blowing from the west. We left our site with just 106 km to Norseman. We stopped briefly to take a photo of Lake Johnston which appeared to be totally dry. It would make a very nice camp if the lake were full.

The remainder of the road was in a great condition like it had been on the previous day. First point of call was to refuel for $1.50 cpl before purchasing groceries from the local IGA, then into a local cafe for cakes and coffee.

Our camp this evening was at the Baxter rest area with a days total of 420 km. We found a spot about half a kilometre from the highway that had been used to store blue metal used on the highway. 

Another peaceful evening with just nine degrees inside the van this morning and a slight westerly blowing. I cannot believe our second day will again be with a tail wind.
We stopped at two locations to take photos as we continued east. 
Unfortunately the photo of the Bunda Cliffs below was the best we could manage with the location of the sun so early in the morning.

Our site tonight was 500 km further on and 70 km east of the border in an area on the northern side of the highway and best of all we had the whole place to ourselves. Again we were able to get far back from the road with only minimal noise from passing trucks during the night.


We left at 9:30 and 90 km later filled up at the Nullarbor Roadhouse for $1.90 cpl. Our intention was to camp somewhere before Ceduna this evening, but we made such good time that we made it to Smoky Bay. We are in the caravan park near the water and there are only about ten other groups camped here at present. 

We spent the afternoon checking out this small town with its quaint fibro shacks lining the foreshore, but there were also some new quite expensive looking two story homes also overlooking the sea.

With just 70 km to drive today we left just on 10 am. We were off to camp at the Streaky Bay Islands caravan park. Its a new park with large sites and lovely amenities but its very exposed to the weather. Its also 7.5 km out of the Streaky Bay township and it has very patchy internet access. We booked for two nights with the choice to stay for more. 
We lunched at the Streaky Bay pub for lunch on our first day and the King George Whiting was magnificent.

On our first evening the skies darkened and the wind increased but then died down and we thought that the bad weather had passed us by, but it returned later that evening with the worst conditions between 1 and 4 am. Wind gusts of more than 70 km/h buffeted the van for the remainder of the night and into the next day. 

We decided to move into the Foreshore van park right in Streaky Bay that would afford us more protection from the wind and boost our internet service.


New Norcia

It was just 160 km to New Norcia, where I have always wanted to visit after reading so much about the Monastery and the buildings that make up this town. All the reading and information you can gather does not prepare you for just how grand and amazing this place really is. You don't need to be a catholic to appreciate this special place and if you are ever in Western Australia then a visit to this town should be on everyone's bucket list. Its located about 132 km north east of Perth in the wheat-belt. 

The town or estate covers 41 square kilometres and twenty seven of the buildings are listed on the heritage register. All revenue raised goes back to the monks for the running of the estate. 

New Norcia was founded in 1874 by Spanish Benedictine Monks led by Rosendo Salvado, and in those early years there were eighty monks living here, but today there are just ten.

You can wander around the town at your own leisure but to really appreciate and learn about the towns history then a guided tour is a must. Our $45 gave us a two hour tour and access to the museum and art gallery, as often as we liked. 
The tour also gave us access to the interiors of many of the buildings you would not normally get to see.

We dined at the hotel on our first evening which was built in 1927, and funded by the Queen of Spain who after it was completed planned to visit but never did. All the doors including the staircase to the second floor were all oversized to accommodate her huge flowing dresses.

The Abbey Church houses the marble tomb of New Norcia's founder Rosendo Salvado. One of only two large Moser organs crafted in Germany and imported to Australia in the 1920's is also in the church and often played by one of the monks.

The visitor centre contains the art gallery, museum and a well stocked gift shop. It also contains works by European masters and gifts from the Spanish Queen.

This Chalice was presented to Rosendo Salavado by Queen Isabella 2nd of Spain in 1857.

This Gothic Style Chalice was given to Abbot Fulgentius Torres by Pope Pius X in 1910. Abbot Fulgentius Torres was the second Abbott after Salvado, who died in December 1900.

This ivory crucifix belonged to Fr Santos Salvado, Chaplin of Her majesty the Queen of Spain Dona Isabella the Second, and he cedes it to the mission of New Norcia in November 1868.


This crown which is silver plated with semi precious stones belonged to D. Pablo Martinez, personal Chaplin to Queen Isabella 2nd of Spain. 1868


The gift shop offers locally sourced gifts and a range of New Norcia's produce including Olive Oil, Abbey Wines, Bread baked on the estate and Abbey Beer with an alcoholic content of 7.3%. The grapes are grown south at Bindoon and the wine then matures in the cool cellars under the Monastery. 

The Monastery residence is the home to the Benedictine Monks and is a restricted area however we were encouraged to take photos of the courtyard.

St Ildephonsus College was also designed by Abbot Fulgentius Torres and was originally a boys boarding school run by the Marist Brothers. The chapel is amazing and the murals painted on the walls and above the altar are just stunning.

St Gertrude's College was also designed by Abbot Fulgentius Torres and was originally opened as a girls boarding school, with the murals in this chapel being more feminine but still spectacular. 



This scrub roller was pulled by horses to loosen and flatten scrub in preparation for burning and clearing.

And this wine press was used on the Benedictine Community's property south-east of New Norcia.

The current Abbot is Father John Herbert, the 7th Abbot of New Norcia and we told on our tour that he speaks ten different languages fluently.

Being self contained we were able to camp on the oval for just $10 a night. If you required power, toilets and showers then it was $20 per night behind the roadhouse.