The Aussie Camino Pilgrimage - Vic/SA

The Aussie Camino is a pilgrimage route from Portland in Victoria to Penola in South Australia. This is inspired by the life and journeys of Australia's Saint Mary of the Cross Mackillop and her mentor Fr Julian Tenison Woods. Regardless of religious beliefs, Saint Mary's life is a wonderful study of a woman who carried many crosses in her life and responded to the challenges through her faith and her courage.

Similar to the traditions of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, this walk is Inspired by the life of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop and her mentor Father Julian Tenison Woods. Born in Victoria and raised in Melbourne, Mary’s dream was to dedicate her life to the service of God and the poor. At the age of 24, with the assistance of Father Julian Tenison Woods she founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Penola, South Australia. Mary spent many months travelling the country towns of Victoria, visiting children in foster homes on her way to meetings in Melbourne, Sydney or Adelaide.

Traversing such a trail has been a centuries old tradition, and many are aware of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage to the apostle Saint James, and finishing at Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwestern Spain. For many people, pilgrimages are spiritual journeys focusing on a person whose life and work provided a model for followers.

For others, it’s about the trek and the countryside, and the Aussie Camino provides an opportunity to trek through beautiful surrounds, learning about Australia’s history and enjoying the company of like minded people.

We love that this Camino commences from Portland, and travels through part of the Great South West Walk, taking in Aboriginal heritage sites, the Southern Ocean and a whole stunning array of coastline. It’s also where the first European settlement was established in Victoria and site of an horrific massacre of Indigenous people in Victoria. Don’t miss this one!

Price: $2145.00 per person (Twin Share)

Duration: 9 Nights/ 10 Days

Trek Ratings: Activity 2&3 / Conditions 3 / Accommodation 3 / Training/Preparation 4

Best Season: Available all year.

Country Visited: Australia

Trip Start: Melbourne

Trip Ends: Melbourne

Trip Route: Melbourne – Portland – Penola – Melbourne

Trip Style: Guided Trekking, pack free, supported.

Activity: Trekking

Activity Per Day: Approximately 7 – 8 hrs walking

Day 01 Meet at Mary MacKillop Centre – 10am, travel to Portland as a group.

Day 02 Portland to Cape Bridgewater – 20kms

Day 03 Cape Bridgewater to Bridgewater lakes – 18kms

Day 04 Bridgewater to Nelson – 23kms

Day 05 Nelson to Port Macdonnell – 30kms

Day 06 Port Macdonnell to Mount Gambier – 28 kms

Day 07 Mount Gambier to Bush Haven Cottage – 18kms

Day 08 Bush Haven to Kalangadoo – 20 kms

Day 09 Kalangadoo to Penola – 28 kms

Day 10 Depart Penola for Mt Gambier, then train to Melbourne

Day 01 Depart from Melbourne – 10.00am
We meet this morning at the Mary Mackillop Centre, 362 Albert St, East Melbourne

11:30am – Depart for Southern Cross Station and we then catch the train to Warrnambool. On arrival we board the bus for Portland where we will spend our first night. We will hold a pre dinner meeting to check packs, excess luggage etc and discuss the pilgramage ahead of us.

Overnight at Hotel

No meals included

Day 02 Start Pilgrimage: Portland to Cape Bridgewater – 20 kms

We start our day with breakfast at Mac’s Hotel.

This morning we get our trek on in earnest! Before we really get boots on the track, we will take a tour of Bayview College and All Saints Church, where Mary MacKillop and her sister, Annie, taught at the school. Following this we alight our bus to the trek start.

For the first three days, we follow the Great South West Walk, established in the 1980’s and taking us through stunning country. Leaving our bus behind we commence our walk to the Cape Nelson Lighthouse, following a coastal track until with about 5km to go, we branch onto a section of the track that runs along clifftops, affording spectacular views.

After spending some time here, we continue today along the clifftop track, before traversing through bush to the coastline. A beach walk follows and we are spoilt with some stunning scenery enroute to our finish stop at Cape Bridgewater.

Overnight Seaview Lodge(B/L)

Day 03 Cape Bridgewater to Bridgewater lakes – 18kms

A lovely breakfast sets us up for the day, and although it is actually our shortest, it will be very enjoyable. We continue walking along cliff tops, again enjoying stunning views, and viewing a seal colony.

There are many turbines here, as we make our way towards Bridgewater Lakes, our stay for tonight. Our bus will pick us up and transfer us back to Cape Bridgewater for the second night of our stay at Seaview Lodge.

Overnight Seaview Lodge (B/L)

Day 04 Cape Bridgewater to Nelson (includes Bus section) – 23kms

This entire section is too long for one day, and after a delicious breakfast, we will board our bus for transfer to Lake Mombeong.

Arriving at around 8.15am, we commence our day’s trek, walking about 7km through sand dunk tracks which will eventually take us out to the beach, for a 12km walk along hard, flat sand. The day finishes by walking an additional 3-4km into Nelson, our home for tonight.

Overnight: Nelson Cottage and/or Pine Haven Motel (B/L)

Day 05 Nelson to Port Macdonnell – 30kms

Another delicious breakfast will set us up for a long day, but by now our legs have hardened up and we are used to the conditions and terrain.

This is our first day off the Great South West Walk, and our first 5km is along the busy Portland-Mount Gambier Road. At this point we cross the border into South Australia, and another 2km will see us back walking on the beach, which we follow for the rest of the day.

The conditions will be important today – we are exposed to weather here, which means our walk could be just beautiful or quite challenging! We will arrive at Port Macdonnell around 4.30pm and enjoy a welcome rest before dinner.

Once a busy shipping port,  Port Macdonnell now relies heavily on its fishing and summer tourism industries, particularly the rock lobster harvest industry, proclaiming itself “Australia’s Southern Rock Lobster Capital”.[12]

Overnight Victoria Hotel (B/L)

Day 06 Port Macdonnnell to Mount Gambier – 28kms

We start this morning with a breakfast roll and coffee from the Port Macdonnell General Store.

This is a great day’s walk as the roads are very quiet and flat. Moving away from the coast we head north inland for around 3 hours to our first rest spot. Mt Schank is a 100m high dormant volcano, and its cone-shaped form is a rare South Australian example of volcanic activity, that has been little affected by erosion.

After a rest at the picnic ground here, we continue for our afternoon’s trek through to Mount Gambier.

Overnight at Federal Hotel (B/L)

Day 07 Mount Gambier to Bush Haven Cottage – 18kms

After the exertions of the previous days, we have a free morning to rest, relax and look around this interesting town.

The second most populated city in South Australia, with an estimated population just under 30,000, Mount Gambier is known for its geographical features, particularly volcanic and limestone, and its Blue Lake, parks and gardens, caves and sinkholes.

At 1pm we will meet to start our afternoon trek of around four hours. We continue to head north and as we make our way today, we may see many planes in the sky; trekking as we are past the Mount Gambier Regional Airport at Wandilo.

Our accommodation tonight is the remote and delightful Bush Haven Cottage at Mingbool.

Overnight at Bush Haven Cottages (B/L)

Day 08 Bush Haven Cottage to Kalangadoo – 20kms

9:00am Breakfast Bush Haven Cottages

Another relaxed start to the day allows us time to enjoy the peace and relaxation of being in this beautiful countryside. Our trek starts around 11am and takes us further north to Kalangadoo, via Wepar.

Kalangadoo, with a population of around 300, is the centre of a rich agricultural district that specialises in potatoes and timber, as well as apple orchards, beef cattle, sheep and dairy cattle.

The village flourished with the construction of a narrow gauge railroad in 1887, however it languished as farmers increasingly used cars to travel for supplies to Penola and Mount Gambier.

Today the small business district includes a general store, a farm supply store, a pub, and a timber mill. The disused railway station houses a small museum.

Overnight Kalangadoo Hotel (B/L)

Day 09 Kalangadoo to Penola – 28kms

A treat this morning is our breakfast spot at the 7 Kalangadoo Farmers’ Market. Once fortified, we commence our trek, following the railway line for a good part of the day.

This is quite a short day but not the easiest. It is a good idea to wear long pants today as the railway line can be a bit overgrown in parts.

Penola marks the pinnacle of our pilgrimage, known as it is as the central location in the life of Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods. In 1866, the pair established St Joseph’s School, the first free Catholic school[12]  Woods and MacKillop also established in Penola a congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Otherwise known as the ‘Josephites’ or ‘Brown Joeys’, they continue to work with the poor and needy communities throughout the world today.

Overnight at Cobb & Co Cottages. (B/L)

Day 10 Depart for home

For those so inclined, there is the option to attend 9:00am Mass at St Joseph’s, before visiting the Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre.

We have chartered our own bus for the one hour drive to Mt Gambier, from where we meet our V/Line bus to Ballarat. At Ballarat, we catch our train to Southern Cross Station, arriving around 8.40pm.

Meals (B/L)

Oct 7 – 16, 2020 – SOLD OUT

Oct 28 – Nov 6, 2020 – PRIVATE GROUP

Nov 18 – 26, 2020 – SOLD OUT

Feb 10 – 19, 2021 SOLD OUT

Mar 17 – 26, 2021

April 28 – May 7, 2021

May 19 – 28, 2021

Aug 25 – Sept 3, 2021

Sept 15 – 24, 2021

Oct 20 – 29, 2021

Other dates available – groups of 10 or more can choose own dates.

Cost Includes

9 Day fully escorted tour – GT Leader

All transfers to and from Melbourne


Breakfast and Lunch

Detailed Risk Management Plan

Public Liability Insurance

Luggage transported daily

Cost Does not Include

International and Australian domestic flights

Pre and post accommodation

Airport transfers

Travel insurance

All items of a personal nature, including trekking equipment

Meals other than those specified on itinerary

Any others expenses which are not mentioned on ‘Price Includes’ section.

Recommended Equipment


 Jacket, breathable with hood
 Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
 Long Sleeve Shirt
 Short Sleeve Shirt
 Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
 Fleece Pants
Skins (optional)
Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
Gaiters or Spats (optional)
Afternoon / Evening Clothes
 One lightweight set of non-walking clothes. These are the clothes you will change into after the days walk.  We recommend a short sleeve shirt and second pair of shorts – you will generally arrive at your day’s destination early afternoon when it is still warm.
 Polar Fleece or one warm woolen jumper (not too bulky) and long pants. These are to protect against mosquitoes at dusk, and cold at night.


 1 – Brimmed Hat, for sun protection, Sunglasses
 1 – Bandana (optional)


 1 – Hiking Boots/walking shoes with spare laces
 1 – Gym Shoes/sandals/thongs, to wear at night (optional)
 7 – Socks, comfortable


 Camel pack / Water bladder. This is mandatory as it is critical that you maintain hydration at all times.
 Water bottles for spare capacity and to mix up supplements. We recommend total water capacity to be around 2 – 3 litres
 Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional)
 Poncho, during rainy season (optional)
 Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional)
 Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate


 Twin share accommodation


 Trekking Poles (optional)
 Head lamp, with extra batteries
 Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear while trekking

Soft bag ( sports type bag) for your overnight gear to be transferred in from town to town. NO SUITCASES


 Prescriptions and basic first aid kit for blisters, bites etc.
 Lip Balm
 Hand Sanitiser, Insect Reppellent
 Toilet Paper – incase of day requirements
 Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional) we provide snacks and biscuits.
 Camera, with extra batteries (optional)

Portable power pack

What level of fitness do I require?

Your experience is directly related to your level of fitness!!  It is very important to prepare yourself for the challenge ahead.  We have a recommended training schedule on our website, this is a guide only.

Please contact us for information on training walks in Melbourne, Adelaide and Cairns.

Fatigue, overheating and dehydration are conditions that you need to avoid and be aware of on the trek. Lots of fluid with re‐hydration formulas such as Gastrolyte will help. You must train in the clothes that you intend to wear whilst trekking! It is also very important to make sure that you have good walking boots.

Good footwear is important for a successful trek. Prior preparation is the key to a successful trek.

Getaway Trekking reserves the right to refuse participation or retire any trekker/s if they are deemed to be unfit or unprepared to complete the journey.

Do I need travel insurance for this trek?

Domestic Travel Insurance is a policy that provides cover for travel to Australian states, territories and islands within its maritime borders. It can provide cover for cancellation due to illness or injury, lost, stolen or damaged luggage, cancelled flights, rental vehicle insurance excess, personal liability and other unexpected circumstances.

Insurance does NOT cover any medical expenses when you are travelling within Australia. When you are in Australia, any medical costs would need to be covered by Medicare, your private health insurance or out of your own pocket.

It is actually legislated by the Australian Government that travel insurance companies are unable to provide cover for medical expenses within Australia for Australian residents and citizens, who are eligible for Australian Medicare. The intention is for any medical costs to remain under Medicare or Private Health.

Please note that ambulance services are state run services and Medicare does not necessarily cover you for ambulance trips.

Whilst a domestic travel insurance policy does not provide cover for medical expenses, it can provide cover for Cancellation due to a medical situation

What is the accommodation like?

Accommodation each night is included in this package. We will stay at hotels and cottages as available.

When is the trek briefing?

Your Trek Leader will run a briefing at your hotel the night before your trek. This informative session is designed to let you know of departure times, changes, ask questions etc. It also allows you to get acquainted with the rest of the group if you’re not already.

Do I need money on the trek?

Yes, you will need to pay for dinner and drinks each day. There is also opportunity to purchase gifts/souvenirs at the towns we walk through. We would recommend $40 – $60 per person be allocated

Are there Communications on the trek?

We carry a satellite phone on our treks.  The purpose of the satellite phone is for emergency use only. It is used to ring in to the office with updates, GPS position or used in an emergency.Leaders also carry mobile phones.

The satellite phone is not to be used by our trekkers for personal use.

If a trekker wants to keep in touch with family or work whilst they are trekking they need to bring their own satellite phone.

Standard Mobile phone coverage is availalbe.

How can I be contacted if there is an emergency at home?

If an emergency requires your attention the following procedures should be followed. It must be understood that communications in these areas is not guaranteed due to weather and other environmental conditions.

  1. Your family member contacts our office (who will assess if it is a genuine emergency; a sick cat would not fit this criteria!) The sat phone is required for “on track” emergencies and battery life is limited.
  2. Our office will text a message to the satellite phone; when the trek leader initialises the phone at 6.00pm each night, he / she will receive the message and immediately contact the office for instructions.

What happens with food?

Breakfast and lunch are included in your trek package. Continental style breakfasts, packed lunches.

Dinner and drinks each night will be at your own expense. Hotel/restaurant type meals


Should I take electrolytes and how much water is enough?

You will need to carry a minimum of 2 litres of water on you. It is essential you hydrate in all trekking environments.

Dehydration can become a major issue in all hot environments.  It is very important to keep drinking fluids on the trek. Because of the higher level of activity, temperature and humidity you will tend to sweat more. With the increased fluid intake and sweating you also tend to flush out of your system essential minerals, salts etc. This is why it is important to use electrolytes, salt replacements and Glucose type products. Water will be available to refill bladders/bottles along the way and at the end of each day. Water purifying tablets can be taken as a precaution. With the different environments, conditions, food and water, upset stomachs, vomiting and diarrhea can occur. Please ensure you bring adequate medication as per our personnel first aid kit.

Are we supported on this trek?

Throughout this trek we will be fully supported by a support vehicle. This vehicle will take all your luggage from one overnight stay to the next so all we need to carry is our day pack.