New Norcia


Yesterday, we traveled up along the Great North Highway to visit New Norcia, located approximately 140 kilometers from Perth.

Education Centre - New Norcia, WA

Education Centre – New Norcia, WA

New Norcia, Australia’s only Monastic Town, was founded as a Benedictine Mission to local native aboriginals on 1st March, 1846. The settlement was led by the two Spanish Benedictines, Rosendo Salvado and Joseph Serra. The name New Norcia, is taken from Norcia, Italy which is the birthplace of St Benedict. For some reason New Norcia is pronounced “new nor-sia” as opposed to it’s original Italian namesake, which is pronounced “nor-chee-a”.

A visit to New Norcia is highly recommended. It is architecturally so unlike any other Australian town.

The museum contains exhibits focussed on the monastery and key individuals as well as “rooms” specific to advances in medicine, technology and agriculture. Outside of the main museum building there is a separate, dusty, machinery shed which contains several curiosities.

The second floor of the  museum building houses the art gallery which house both modern and classical pieces.

In 1986, the gallery was the scene of WA’s biggest ever art theft,  when twenty-six paintings were stolen by two robbers. Although described as a robbery it was more an act of vandalism as the paintings were cut from their frames, then rolled up, further damaging them in the process. Several weeks later, all but one of the stolen paintings were returned. The remaining painting, too big to fit in the robbers car, was cut into pieces and thrown away. The recovered paintings have been the subject of a long restoration at the cost of over 100, 000 dollars.

On the top floor of the museum can be found St Joseph’s Aboriginal Girls’ Exhibition which reflects the experiences of Aboriginal girls resident at the orphanage at New Norcia.

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Also on this floor  is the Gardner Botanical Exhibition, featuring artworks on paper of Western Australian plants, by WA’s first Government botanist, Charles A Gardner.

A couple of monastery residents, not sure if they are Benedictines.

While visiting New Norcia we also had lunch, sat on the terrace of the New Norcia Hotel.

New Norcia Hotel - New Norcia, WA

New Norcia Hotel – New Norcia, WA

While sitting on the terrace drinking Abbey Ale was very pleasant, my meal didn’t live up to expectations. Although Gerry’s Pork Cutlet, with Chat Potatoes, veggies and gravy, was fine my Ribs were under cooked for the most part and totally raw in the center of the thickest portion. I don’t mind rare beef and lamb but like my pork to be fully cooked. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the rawness until I had cleared my plate of the rest of my meal. However, I returned the plate to the bar and complained. The staff were very apologetic and offered me a refund. I suggested that wasn’t necessary and that they give me a piece of the New Norcia Nut Cake instead. They insisted on giving me the refund as well as the Nut Cake. Smiles all round.

Mundaring Weir Hotel


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Mundaring Weir Hotel – WA

We have, over the years, visited Mundaring Weir on many occasions. We have not, however, eaten at the Mundaring Weir Hotel which is just a few minutes away from the weir. So we decided to give them a try for lunch.

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Mundaring Weir Hotel

Apparently, there has been an establishment on this site since the turn of the century and was originally built to service the workers and visitors to the weir. In 1898 a single storey building called the Reservoir Hotel was built. Then in 1906, a two-storey building was added and the hotel was renamed Goldfields Weir Hotel. Not sure when it was renamed again but whatever name it is sporting the building still retains much of the decor and character of the original.

Food is only served during the day and it is what they term “counter food”. Back home in the UK I guess we would just refer to bar meals.

I had the Steak Sandwich which is described as “Graziers porterhouse steak with onion jam, cheddar cheese, beetroot & rocket with BBQ and ranch dressings. Served with chips”.

Gerry and Denise both had the Snapper Burger “with lemon & dill aoili, lettuce, chopped salad and beer battered chips”

All agreed that the food was very good although we would have preferred the food to have been served on plates rather than the wooden board which allowed the food to slide of onto the table. The star of these meals was the beer battered chips which were crisp on the outside and full and fluffy on the inside.

The girls each had a “midi” of refreshing Orchard Crush apple cider while I had a midi of an amber ale called Nine Tales . Both brews are from the James Squire Brewery. One thing I can vouch for is that Australian craft beers are seriously good and a long way removed from the horrendous lagers, such as Fosters, which they insist on exporting to us.

Mundaring is about an hours drive out from Perth and the road out to the hotel takes you though picturesque woodlands interspersed with open farmlands.

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Farmland near Piesse Brook, Kalamunda

On a previous trip out to this area we had encountered kangaroos crossing the road. On this occasion we spotted a much more diminutive creature, a Bobtail Lizard.

Apparently these fellows are quite often kept as pets but come with a government health warning  “CAUTION: These lizards can deliver a painful and bloody bite”. See this video.

Around the hotel grounds I came across these guys ….

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Parrot B-B-Q

After a BBQ lunch what do you need, why a nice cold beer of course….

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I Just Dropped In For A Swifty

These guys are obviously quite used to humans around the hotel grounds. They let me get quite close before taking off to the nearby trees.

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Who you looking at ?

All in all a pleasant afternoon.

Well pleasant except for the flies which were very much in evidence whenever we stepped out of our car.

First We Have No Hotels – Then Along Come Two At The Same Time


Havant Borough Council will decide next week whether BAE Systems can build a 60-bedroom hotel and restaurant, car showroom and drive-through on the site of redundant buildings at Brambles Farm industrial estate.

Janet Johnston, secretary of Waterlooville Business Association, said: ‘For years we have said Waterlooville needs a hotel.

It seems that Janet has forgotten about the Dunsbury Hill Farm development which also features a hotel and conference centre at its heart. Should both developments go ahead as the planners are hoping, Waterlooville will go from having no hotels, to having two.

Seems they come along like buses.

I’m still puzzled as to where all the business investment is coming from, where all the business demand for these hotels is being generated.

Janet goes on to say

‘There are times when we have had events on and people have to find somewhere to stay. There are bed and breakfasts but not somewhere businessmen can stay easily. I’ve seen the plans and they are very good.’

Good they may be but if we don’t attract new businesses to the Waterlooville area and generate news jobs then nobody will be making use of all those extra beds.

Redundant buildings may boost business if Waterlooville hotel plan is agreed – Local Business – Portsmouth News.

New Development Proposed For Waterlooville BAE Site


Proposals have been put forward to Havant Borough Council for the development of the BAE site in Waterlooville. This site comprises the land bounded by Elettra Avenue, Silverthorne Way and Hambledon Road.

These proposals include

  • 60+ Bedroom Hotel
  • Restaurant
  • Drive Thru Restaurant
  • Car Show Room
  • Industrial Units

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If these proposals go ahead they could bring many benefits to the town, not the least of which would be the employment opportunities.

However, this would also be tempered by the additional industrial traffic that would be required to service the new industrial units at the heart of this proposal.

I have a growing concern that many of the new developments, being proposed for the Waterlooville area, include industrial units but there is no sign of the businesses that are going to take up these new properties. In the meantime there are many existing industrial units  that remain empty.

Waterlooville seems set to be swamped with such “opportunities”. One only has to look to the plans for the Dunsbury Hill Farm site.

Havant Borough Council and the developers are always quick to point to the number of jobs that these developments will create. However, they aren’t so quick to highlight that these are “potential” jobs. At no time do you see them parading a list of employers who have committed to move into these new premises.

Of course, in such economic times as ours it is always good to be prepared for the upturn.

And how about the existing Aston Road industrial estate. That could do with a bit of a facelift. It really does look a bit tired now.

Dunsbury Hill Farm – New Development Proposal Affects on Waterlooville


Today I received a letter from HBC (Havant Borough Council) pertaining to the proposed development of the Dunsbury Hill Farm site, adjacent to the A3(M).

The description of the development is as follows:

Site Address: Dunsbury Hill Farm, Park Lane, Cowplain, Waterlooville

Proposed Development: Hybrid planning application comprising a part outline application relating to employment uses and a hotel with conference  facilities and a part detailed application for a new link road with bus gate to Woolston Road; together with landscaping, infrastructure and associated works.

I am sure that they don’t intend to hide what this development really means but on first reading I was quite happy to go along with it. After all a new hotel and conference centre would not increase the daily traffic levels and road traffic noise. The additional employment opportunities that this would bring is also to welcomed.

However, without reading the actual proposal one is not likely to see what this really is. In their own words …

… proposed development of agricultural land at Dunsbury Hill Farm, Havant into a business and technology park with hotel, conference facilities and associated infrastructure

The  development proposal includes the creation of a new roundabout and potential dualling of a section of the Hulbert Road. In addition there are plans to create a new parking area double the area of the current lay-bys this development will replace. All of this is an indication of the increased traffic that the developers are anticipating.
I have lived in this area since 1985. The survey that I had on my house at the time carries a final comment

shame about the noise from the motorway

Over the years  I have become aware of the increasing noise levels and the changing nature of the noise. Waterlooville, specifically Junction 3 (J3), the junction of the B2150 with the A3(M),  has become something of a hub for the emergency services. As a result anyone living near to this junction will have noticed the increased siren activity. If recent news articles are to be believed the newly opened Hindhead Tunnel is also contributing to increased noise levels along the A3(M) due to heavy goods traffic choosing the A3(M) in preference to the M3 now that the Hindhead traffic jams have been eliminated.
The application pack includes  tables indicating noise levels. The constant theme running through the comments section is

A3 constant and dominant.

What is wrong with these tables is that they are taking noise level reading from a point on the centre line of the A3(M) into the development area and on into Calshot Road & Park Lane areas of Leigh Park. No measurements seem to have been taken from the Waterlooville side of the A3(M).

Yet this is the area that will probably be most affected by the additional traffic generated by the new development.

The location of this new development makes total sense when you consider the easy access to the motorway. Allowing traffic to clear the area very quickly.  However, the very fact that all that traffic will be coming and going via J3 of the A3(M) is going to have a negative effect on the area.

Presumably the planners are thinking that this new development will provide jobs for the soon to be residents of the Berewood (ex Newlands) development on the opposite side of Waterlooville. Did they also consider the additional traffic that will inexorably be sucked across the town ? Such traffic will also be using the J3 roundabout.

I also have other questions, ones that I have asked in other of my posts …

  1. Are there any potential tenants who have committed to take up residence of these new units when they are built ?
  2. Has a major hotel chain registered any interest in running this proposed hotel and conference centre ?
  3. Was the land adjacent to Junction 2, Horndean, considered as the site for this development ? If it was, why was it rejected since there is less potential for affecting local residents and the motorway access is just as good ?I am assuming that the answer is that the land comes under East Hampshire District Council rather than Portsmouth City Council.

I am the first to bemoan the fact that the planners don’t seem to have done much to provide employment for the residents of Waterlooville. So I am loath to be totally negative about this proposed development. However, I don’t believe that the planners have got the true measure of the impact that this development will have.

As usual the only people who will truly gain from this are the developers and, for a short while, the folks employed to carry out the construction.