Having walked the 800km Camino de Santiago in Spain and France, Australian couple Bill and Pina Dunne are now walking in the footsteps of St Mary MacKillop along the Aussie Camino trail. Source: The Australian.
Just like the European pilgrims of old, the Dunnes are undertaking a long camino — a pilgrim’s journey — walking 197km over eight days along the coast, beaches, backroads and farm lanes of southern Australia imbued with deep spiritual and religious significance.
But it is a camino with a difference.
The Dunnes are part of a group of 12 pilgrims undertaking the novel Aussie Camino trail between Portland and Penola in South Australia, walking in the footsteps of Australia’s first homegrown saint, Mary MacKillop.
“A camino is very much like life. There are easy parts, hard parts, and bits where (you) don’t think you can get to the end,” mused Mr Dunne who, with his wife last year trudged the famous 800km medieval Camino de Santiago or Way of St James between southern France and the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela.
“It’s about the pilgrimage, the journey, not so much reaching the end; treading the path step-by-step and reconnecting with what you think is important in life — your essence, faith, beliefs — and being part of something that is bigger than you.”
The Aussie Camino is the brainchild of Melbourne Catholic school teacher, Luke Mills, who along with Sean Deany came up with the idea six years ago of connecting the early country life and travels of fiercely-independent Mary MacKillop not long after she was declared a saint in 2010.
Mr Mills, who now leads groups along the spectacular pilgrim’s way, said he had always been fascinated by the concept of “doing a camino” but, unable to contemplate a Spanish odyssey because of family commitments, wondered if an Australian one was possible.
“To have a camino it has to have a purpose, a reason for its start, route and finish, otherwise it’s just a hike or a walk,” said Mr Mills, who led his latest merry but weary band of pilgrims into Penola last Thursday, complete with blisters, black toenails and an enduring sense of satisfaction.
Pilgrims in step with spirit of Saint Mary MacKillop (The Australian)
Pilgrims return for Eden to Ulladulla (Catholic Voice)
Towns and cities with links to St Mary MacKillop (The Australian)