The Aussie Camino Pilgrimage – VIC/SA

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  • CATO Members
  • We Work With PNG, KTA Licensed Operators
  • Socially Responsible
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10 Days, 9 Nights
Availability : All year
Min Age : 16
Max People : 10

Todays pilgrim traveller considering the direct road to Penola, along the modern highway, would find it a great challenge unless going all the way by car. However a more calm and relaxed route has been chosen for those who wish to make a more authentic pilgrimage by foot. For the first few days, the Camino follows the Great South West Walk (GSWW) followed by numerous farm tracks, goat trails, minor roads and even abandoned railway lines.

The Great South West Walk is a 250 kilometre walking track, established in 1981, and located predominately in the Barwon South West region of Victoria, Australia. Much of the course of the track passes through the Lower Glenelg National Park, the Cobboboonee National Park, the Discovery Bay Coastal Park, the Mount Richmond National Park and the Cape Nelson State Park

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 travelers.

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.

The life of Mary MacKillop is a perfect study of a woman who carried many crosses in her life and responded to the challenges with faith in God and courage. People find strength and encouragement in their own lives through her examples of faith, forgiveness and kindness.

She started the Sisters of St Joseph in the small country town of Penola with co-founder Father Julian Jenison Woods, priest and scientist, who contributed to her journey. Referring to Penola she wrote in 1891 ‘ Little did either of us then dream of what was to spring from so small a beginning’.



‘Oh, how I wish we would only remember that we are but travelers here.’ – Mary MacKillop17 November 1866

Departure & Return Location

Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre

East Melbourne

Price Includes

  • All ground transfers from Melbourne to Melbourne
  • Luggage transfers daily - Carry a daypack only!
  • Shared accommodation in Bnb's and Country Pubs (limited single availalbe - $750.00pp)
  • 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 1 dinner
  • Guide and Busdriver - First aid qualified
  • FREE Getaway Trekking quick-dry Walking Shirt
  • Winery tasting and lunch in Coonawarra
  • Pilgrims Kit - Includes Passport, Guide book, luggage tag, and Camino Shell

Price Excludes

  • International and Australian Domestic Airfares & Airport Departure Tax
  • Pre and Post trek accommodation
  • All personal expenditure including drinks
  • Travel Insurance - domestic
  • Private ensuites - not available at all accommodation


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. On completition we board our bus and return to Portland for our second nights accommodation at Victoria House.

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 Portland for the third night of our stay at Victoria House.

Included: Breakfast, Lunch 

Day 4Mt Richmond to Swan Lake - 21kms

Today we leave the beach and the coastland to experience the Australian Bush. Our walk takes us to the Summit of Mt Richmond. We have made this change so that our bus can now meet you for lunch!

Keep your eyes out for Koalas and Kangaroos… oh and the leeches!

Lunch will be at the summit. Toilets are available.

After lunch we make our way toward Swan Lake, continuing on the GSWW. Just follow the red arrows!

Our bus will meet us again at Swan Lake, here we board and head to Port MacDonnell, our accommodation for the night. Please note that tonight we will have shared bathroom facilities a the hotel.

Incuded: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 5 Port Macdonnnell to Mount Gambier – 21kms

The roads today are very quiet and flat. Moving away from the coast we head 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.

Accommodaton: Federal Hotel

Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 6Mount Gambier to Bush Haven Cottage – 12kms

A cafe breakfast before some sight seeing around this beautiful city. 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.

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

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Bush Haven Cottages

Tonights accommodation is dormitory bunk bed style. Shared bathrooms.

Day 7Bush Haven Cottage to Kalangadoo – 22kms

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.

Accommodation:  Kalangadoo Hilton Hotel.  Standard rooms are twin, however depending on availability  we may need to use triple/quadruple rooms. Bathroom facilites are shared.

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!

Accommodation: Coonawarra Motor lodge

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.

Accommodation: Coonawarra Motor Lodge

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