It’s on again! Tonight we are back in Eden, NSW, where we finished off the second leg of our pilgrimage last Easter from Orbost in Victoria. To this point we had covered 690km of our overall project to walk from St Mary MacKillop’s birthplace in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, to her tomb and shrine in North Sydney. We are forging a trail that my pilgrim companion Sean Deany has dubbed “The MacKillop-Woods Way”, including in that appellation the name of the cofounder of the Order of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Fr Julian Tenison-Woods, whose grave we will also visit when we arrive in Sydney. But that’s all for next year – this year our aim is to get to Ulladulla, about 290km to the north from here. We will also do the little bit from Ulladulla to Milton on our last day on Saturday 28 April (Deo Volente, as they say).
We have been very warmly welcomed by the Committee of the Mary MacKillop Hall and Museum. Mike and Judy Sheppard, who put us up last time we were here, are again showing us generous hospitality. Seven other members of the Hall Committee, Ray and Chris, Michael, Hilare and Mary-Lou, Vic and Marie, joined us for dinner at the Great Southern Hotel. It was good to see them all again and to share our plans and hear of their own lives in the twelve months since we were last together.
Josh had flown over from Tassie last night and stayed in Melbourne overnight before meeting Sean at the Southern Cross Station to catch the 7:20am to Bairnsdale. I had a bit of a sleep-in (!) and Cathy drove me to Dandenong where I boarded the train at 8:05am. It was the first time the three of us had been together since Orbost in 2016. Our train was stalled at Warragul because there was a broken down train on the line ahead, but we were going again in half an hour, and the trip was pleasant and uneventful for the rest of the way to Bairnsdale. We boarded the bus for Eden immediately and were soon on our way again.
It was good along the way seeing where we had walked over the past years. Again and again we would be pointing out the window and saying “There’s the trail” or “There’s where such and such happened”, or “Remember the people we met there?”. The last part of the journey, on the other side of Orbost, departed from our trail which we had taken last year to the north via Bombala, and instead followed the Princes Highway around the bend to Eden. As we went, we were confirmed in our wisdom of choosing the other route – the Princes Highway has a lot of traffic on it and there is very little room to walk on the verge. The road is monotonous too. While there are a couple of towns where you could get accomodation at first (Cabbage Creek, Cann River and Genoa are all about a day’s walk apart) after that there is nothing for about 70kms.
Just before we got into Eden at 4:15pm, I was phoned by a journalist from the Eden Magnet for an interview. We were still talking when we arrived at Eden. So all was a bit of confusion as I tried to bundle my gear off the bus, continue the phone interview and greet Mike at the same time! In the end she decided to try and catch up with us in Pambula tomorrow afternoon, when we plan to visit the Pambula Inspirations coffee shop run by pastors Rob and Robyn Nelson of the Pambula Christian community.
Mike took us around to his place, and we were greeted by Judy who had date scones and cups of tea ready for us. After talking and relaxing for a bit, Mike drove us around to the Star of the Sea Church, where we visited the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and then went into the Church to sing the Regina Coeli, say a prayer to St Mary MacKillop, and pray the Lord’s Prayer. We then set off on the first – very short – section of the pilgrimage: from the Church back to Mike and Judy’s. This way we can start in the morning having cut off 1.5kms of a 30km day!
So now the other two are in bed, and its time I headed there too. Josh is recovering from a cold that he has had for the last week or so, and I am trying NOT to get a cold. Lots of vitamin C, fish oil and echinacea. And finally to bed so we can get up nice and early for the morning.
You can follow me on Twitter as we go at @scecclesia, and also click here to see today’s photos on Google Photos.