10 Day Aussie Camino Women's Trek

27 Aug, 2021

Trip price:$2795

Deposit: $400

Ready to walk Australia’s answer to the Camino de Santiago? If you love hiking, the outdoors and making new friends, this women’s only walk of the Aussie Camino might just be the ticket.

*Note: because of the Covid uncertainty in Victoria, we have decided not to run any trips in 2021, until the bulk of the Australian population is able to vaccine. The itinerary below will undergo small changes for 2022.

This is the first trip to launch under our new ‘Camino Women’ banner. Camino Women is a project of Patch Adventures to make the grand walks of the world accessible and welcoming to walking women.

The Aussie Camino is a walk based on the life of St Mary Mackillop, Australia’s first and only saint. It starts in Portland, Victoria and finishes in Penola, South Australia, taking in incredible views and rugged scenery across a highly varied walk full of highlights.

The popularity of this walk is growing, fast, and this is a great time to walk the trail while in its infancy. 

Even better, the group will be fully accompanied by a bus, driver and guide so you can skip certain sections if needed. The driver will be responsible for moving all baggage each day – no big packs! –  and our experienced, accredited Aussie Camino expert guide will be with you every step of the way.

Important: Please note that while there are no big mountains, this is a tough walk at times; if you cannot cover 25-30km (taking into account rest breaks and the fact that you’ll just have a day pack) you will struggle to complete this trip. 

ABOUT MARY MACKILLOP

The Camino is designed to honour the life of Mary Mackillop, who is known today as St Mary of the Cross after her 2010 canonisation.

Portland is where St Mary started her ministry in 1864, founding a boarding school where the Camino begins. 

From there, she went on to found Australia’s first order of nuns in Penola, where the pilgrimage finishes. The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart focus on providing education and support to those in need, with a concentration in Indigenous populations. It still operates to this day.

Mary led a truly heroic life, which you’ll learn about over the course of this 10 day trip. 

Highlights

Fully supported, pack free trip!

Small group - max 10 spots

Walk along cliff tops in the rugged South West Coast of Victoria

Eat and drink in local pubs in small country towns dotted along the route

Walk inland through beautiful South Australian countryside to Penola

10 days of new Friends and Contemplation

Trip Details

Price

$2145 Per Person (inc GST), twin share.

Max 10 Spots.

$400 Deposit; Final payment due Jun 30, 2021.

Note: If you’re travelling alone, that’s ok: most of our Patchies come alone. We will pair you with someone in the group.

Note: there are 5 Spots Left. Call 0415 992 932 if you have any questions.


Trip length

10 Days, 9 Nights


Dates

August 27 to September 5, 2021


Meeting point

Mary Mackillop Heritage Centre, Melbourne. Trip starts and finishes here.


Group size

Maximum 10,  Minimum 8.

Trip will be confirmed once 8 deposits have been received.


Participation requirements

Please see our “Is this trip right for you?” section to see the participation requirements.


Included

  • Leader & guide: 1 First Aid Wilderness Qualified, Bus Driver, Transport
  • Entrance/admission: fees where applicable with included activities
  • 9 breakfasts, 9 lunches

Not included

  • Airfare
  • Services not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Late check-out at hotels
  • Meals & drinks not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Expenditure of personal nature
  • Personal travel insurance

Our accommodation

Accommodation is in simple local lodging in the country towns that the group will be walking through.

Click the tabs to find out more

Itinerary

DAY 1: MELBOURNE

Meet at the Mary Mackillop Centre in Melbourne. Please arrive by 9am. Our bus will then take the group down to Portland, where we’ll stay for the night.

DAY TWO: THE PILGRIMAGE COMMENCES – 20KM

The day starts with an important visit before the walk kicks off: Bayview College, the school founded by St Mary as part of her ministry.

Then, our lovely driver will transfer us to the start of the walk and send you off with a rousing “Buen Camino!”

The first three days of the walk are along the trail of the Great South West Walk, one of Australia’s most beautiful coastline trails. The coastal track runs along the clifftops before winding down to the base for some shoreline trekking.

Bayview Lodge is our home for the first three nights. From there, we’ll be walking into our accommodation each evening

DAY 3: CAPE BRIDGEWATER TO BRIDGEWATER LAKES – 18KM

This is a shorter, but highly enjoyable day, as we warm up our legs. Think rugged coastlines, spectacular sea views, wind turbines dotting the countryside – and one seal colony!

We’ll wind up at Bridgewater Lakes, our finish point for the day, and then be transported back to accommodation.

DAY 4: LAKE MOMBEONG TO NELSON – 23KM

Today kicks off with 7km of inland trails at Lake Mombeong, which drop in on the beach for 12km of hiking along sand. The sand is hard and flat, which makes it walkable.

Turning inland, we close out the last 4km walking to Nelson, where we’ll stay the night.

Note: As the walking lengths increase, our driver will meet us at certain points so that those who choose to, can decide to ride in the bus for a while.

DAY 5: NELSON TO PORT MACDONNELL – 29KM

This is a long and challenging day. The official route covers 34km, so we’ve decided to skip the first 5km of the Camino here, which is along a busy road.

Our bus will take us to the turnoff just past the South Australian border at the Piccaninnie Ponds. This is where we’ll start walking.

Today’s walk is along a beach, so the mood of Mother Nature will play a large part in the difficulty levels.

That’s it for coastlines and beaches, however: the walk turns  inland at Port Macdonnell and from there, the rest of the Camino winds through South Aussie countryside towards Penola.

DAY 6: PORT MACDONNELL TO MT GAMBIER – 28KM

The roads today are quiet and flat. The morning’s goal is Mt Schank, a 100m high volcano which is where we’ll stop for a picnic lunch.

Mt Gambier is your destination for the afternoon, on this, the fifth day of your Camino. 

By this point, you’ll have made many friends in the group, while also having ample time to walk and contemplate in the midst of beautiful scenery.

Less than halfway to go!

DAY 7: MT GAMBIER TO BUSH HAVEN COTTAGE – 18KM

Give your legs a rest, as it’s time for a small break this morning!

Join the group for a tour of Mt Gambier, a fascinating small city famous for geographical features such as the sapphire Blue Lake and a couple of huge sinkholes. It’s a unique town and worth seeing.

There’s 4 hours of walking in the afternoon through to Bush Haven Cottage at Mingbool.

DAY 8: BUSH HAVEN COTTAGE TO KALANGADOO – 20KM

We’re now in rich agricultural country, featuring rolling green hills. Potatoes, timber, apples, beef cattle and sheep are all produced in this area which makes for pleasant surrounds for your walk today. 

Being a 20km leg, the pace is relaxed as we troop into Kalangadoo – population 305 – a historical town. It has a pub, general store, timber mill and museum.

DAY 9: KALANGADOO TO PENOLA – 28KM

The final day of the Camino. The last ‘Buen Camino’.

… and ‘just’ 28km standing between you and Penola.

Penola is the town where St Mary flourished. Alongside Julian Tenison Woods, the pair established both a school and a religious order – the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. This order of sisters established schools across Australia with a focus on the needy and is still working today. Over 600 sisters across 6 countries have dedicated their lives to service under the banner of the Sisters of St Joseph.

DAY 10: PENOLA TO MELBOURNE

St Joseph’s conducts a mass at 9am for those inclined to join.

On this, the final day of the trip, we’ll visit the Mary Mackillop Interpretive Centre to understand more about her life. 

And that’s it – the only thing that remains is to jump in a bus back to Melbourne, with a lunch stop included along the way.

From there, you can be proud to say that you walked the ‘Aussie Camino’ before it became packed with visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

While it’s not at ‘Inca Trail’ level, the walk isn’t easy.

And while you will have the option to take rests and ride in the bus if needed, you should come with the understanding that some of the days will be tough.

If you have not previously hiked major multi-day walks and aren’t sure if this is the ‘one’, at the very least you should be a regular bushwalker or trailwalker.

Contact us if you’re not sure.

COVID – Guarantee

We recognise that for many, there is still a degree of uncertainty regarding making travel bookings, hence we are providing a deposit guarantee.

If you unable to travel on your selected departure date due to:

  • having contracted COVID-19
  • requiring quarantine due to a family / household member contracting COVID-19
  • living in an area that restricts travel in the region of your booked trek

You will be offered a full refund.

Please note, the refund guarantee relates only to COVID-19 restrictions, and not to a change of mind, circumstances, other illness or injury.

Most likely, yes,  but please get in touch.