The Aussie Camino Pilgrimage – VIC/SA

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10 Days, 9 Nights
Availability : All year
Min Age : 16
Max People : 10
Trek Summary

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. 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. People find strength and encouragement in their own lives through her examples of faith, forgiveness and kindness.

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. For many people it is a spiritual journey focusing on a person whose life and work provided fulfillment and satisfaction and a model for followers. The beauty and wonder of the natural environment contributes to the experience as does the comradeship of fellow travellers.

It is most appropriate that this Camino from Portland, where she gained Catholic teaching experience, finishes at Penola where it all began. Pilgrims can walk the paths that she walked, visiting the stable park and schoolhouse where she taught. Mary met Father Woods in a church on the site of the present St Joseph’s church where they will have the opportunity to contemplate and pray. They can talk to people who have kept alive the history of Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Jenison Woods over many generations.

NOTE: Due to increase in domestic travel, accommodation bookings can sometimes be challenging. For this reason, itineraries are subject to change. Bookings are not made until minimum numbers are reached for each group.

Departure & Return Location

Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre – East Melbourne

Price Includes

  • 9 Day fully escorted tour – experienced GTA Leader
  • All transfers to and from Melbourne
  • Accommodation
  • All breakfasts. All lunches - delivered by our bus driver along with hot drinks (except for one day).
  • Detailed Risk Management Plan
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Private bus to transport luggage and allow for opt outs at various points
  • 3 Dinners and Winery Lunch on Day 9 (New for 2022)

Price Excludes

  • 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 other expenses which are not mentioned on ‘Price Includes’ section.


  • Getaway Trekking quick-dry Walking Shirt
  • Getaway Trekking Certificate of Completion
  • Training Walks in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia & Tasmania

2022 Itinerary

Day 1Depart from Melbourne – 10.00am

Our official meeting point is the Mary MacKillop Centre in Melbourne. Our private bus will be departing from here at 10.00am. As a group we will make our way to Portland, which will be our first stop for the night.

Day 2Start Pilgrimage: Portland to Cape Bridgewater – 20 kms

Breakfast is followed by a tour of Bayview College and All Saints Church, where Mary MacKillop and her sister, Annie, taught at the school. Transfer to 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. We drive to Cape Nelson Lighthouse, where we start our trek, following coastal tracks that run along clifftops, affording spectacular views. With about 5kms to go we descend to bush tracks to the coastline and beach walk.

Included: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 3Cape Bridgewater to Bridgewater lakes – 21kms

A very enjoyable day. Continue walking along cliff tops, again enjoying views of stunning vistas, a seal colony and many turbines. Continue to Bridgewater Lakes, our finish point for the day. Our bus will pick us up and transfer us back to Cape Bridgewater for the second night of our stay at Seaview Lodge.

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4Cape Bridgewater to Nelson (includes Bus section) – 26kms

This entire section is too long for one day, so we begin with our bus transfer to Lake Mombeong. Commence trek, walking about 7km through inland tracks around the lake, 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, a welcome drink at the Nelson pub, before we board the bus and head to Port Mac Donnell our home for the night.

Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 5 Port Macdonnnell to Mount Gambier – 26kms

The roads today are very quiet and flat. Moving away from the coast we head north inland for around 3 hours to Mt Schank, a 100m high dormant volcano. 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.

Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 6Mount Gambier to Bush Haven Cottage – 12kms

Free morning to rest, relax and look around this interesting town. The second most populated city in South Australia, Mount Gambier is known for its geographical features, particularly volcanic and limestone, and its Blue Lake, parks and gardens, caves and sinkholes.

  • Afternoon trek of around three hours, past the Mount Gambier Regional Airport at Wandilo to Bush Haven Cottage at Mingbool.

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7Bush Haven Cottage to Kalangadoo – 20kms

A relaxed start to the day allows us time to enjoy this rich agricultural district, specialising in potatoes and timber, apple orchards, beef cattle, sheep and dairy cattle. The village flourished with the construction of a narrow gauge railroad in 1887, languishing with the introduction of cars. Kalangadoo has a general store, a farm supply store, a pub, and a timber mill. The disused railway station houses a small museum.

Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 8Kalangadoo to Penola - 31kms

Our trek follows the railway line for a good part of this long and challenging day. Penola was the central location in the life of Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods. Here, the pair established St Joseph’s School, the first free Catholic school and 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. The last day of our trek, we will celebrate what we have achieved with a relaxing dinner!

Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 9Full Day in Penola and a Winery Lunch

A full day in this lovely town to explore and take in everything on offer.
We will have the opportunity to attend Mass, (for those who wish to do so), before a tour through the Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre.

This is a wonderful commemoration to Saint Mary, with some fantastic information. There’s no hurry so take your time – here is where we will also receive the final stamp of our passports and collect our Compostela.

Spend some time in the recreation of Mary’s first school room before wandering down Petticoat Lane and viewing the historic buildings.

As Penola is at the southern end of the Coonawarra Region, we will take the opportunity to visit a winery for lunch.

The afternoon is at leisure.

Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 10Penola to Melbourne

After a leisurely breakfast, we will board our bus and leave Penola for the journey back to the Mary Mackillop Centre in East Melbourne, where we all began!

Enroute we will stop for breaks and meals.

Included: Breakfast