New Norcia and the Chittering Valley

The DeafBlind Conference is over, a week has come and gone so fast!

I’ve learned so much from it (including basic sign language) and it certainly was an eye opener for me to the world of deafblindness.

Friday was a day off from the scientific programs, and almost all 450 delegates were off to either the Zoo, AQWA, Yanchep or New Norcia. I, along with about 70+ other delegates were off to New Norcia.

New Norcia is Australia’s only monastic town, and full of history. I thought it would be dead boring, but it wasn’t!

In 1846, a Benedictine mission to the local aborigines was started and was led by two Spanish Benedictines. Hence, the name New Norcia, named after Norcia in Italy, the birthplace of St. Benedict.

Even up till today, there are still a few monks living there, and they still live a very disciplined and hard life.

Before i went on the trip itself, i was planning on just going with the flow, helping if one of the delegates asks for help, and just taking pictures. Lots and lots of pictures!

But just before we left, a lady with her guide dog came up to me and ask where we’ll be meeting. I took her down to the meeting place and as if it was fate, we got stuck together for the entire trip. I became her sighted guide.

Pesley, 10.5 years old

If you ask me, although i didn’t manage to snap any good photos, it was really worth it. It was an experience i would never ever forget!

Being a sighted guide isn’t as easy as it looks. You’re the eyes of someone who has no sight. You’ve gotta balance everything around you, and tell them if there’s a step, to duck down if there’s something there and so much more.

And in the museum, I had to describe the paintings and read out that she can actually visualize the paintings.

And one thing i realise about the disabled here, they’re really independent. With technology, gadgets for them has evolved so much that it really surprises you how well they blend into our society.

Picnic lunch

In the Abbey Church

Smallest English dictionary in the world

Violin and viola

Double bass

Education in New Norcia was very focused around music and sports. Thus, they had their own orchestras and these instruments are ancient! Would love to have the viola 😀

New Norcia is also famous for their bread which was orginally milled and baked in a wood-fired oven.

New Norcia Nutcake

However, you don’t have to travel for 2 hours just to try their bread! The monks at New Norcia have brought their bread and speciality cakes to Perth and there are a couple of shops selling them. Check out their site for more details.

That’s New Norcia for you, a slice of Spain in Western Australia.

Had a great time, and thank goodness I wasn’t clumsy or blur that day. Otherwise there goes the saying “blind leading the blind.”



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