Great Victorian Rail Trail (Day One)

Well, I’m off again. Not strictly on pilgrimage, but a sort of prep/trial run for the next leg of the MacKillop-Woods Way at Easter. It is my intention to walk the leg from Skipton to Portland (the 6th Leg of the MWW) over nine days from Good Friday to Divine Mercy Sunday. I will be doing it without my companions (our holidays and plans and borders were too hard to coordinate). And for the first time on the MWW, I will be doing it with a tent as I originally planned six years ago. There are a number of logistical problems, including sparse townships for food and water.

So for the next three days I’m having a trial run in the Great Victorian Rail Trail, walking from Tallarook to Molesworth with just me, my pack and my tent. It’s the first time I’ve ever done a solo trek like this, so I’m excited and anxious at the same time. My original plan had been to walk the entire trail from Mansfield to Tallarook over five days last week, but a snap “circuit breaker” 5-day restriction 4 covid lockdown (limiting us to just 1hr outside each day and no further than 5km from home) put an end to that. Actually, I’m rather thankful to Premier Dan Andrews (another first) for this, because last week was very warm (low-mid 30° days) and sunny, and I had over estimated how far I could walk each day with a full pack.

This stint will see me walking 20km today, and then 17km each other day. I’ll camp overnight on the trail tonight and in the Yea caravan park tomorrow night. I’m carrying food for two days. I’m hoping to be able to get water along the way – I have water purifying tablets. I’ve got a one man tent (very small and snug), and a light weight sleeping bag and mat, but all that still takes up a lot of space/weight in the pack I’ve never had to carry before. Only one change of clothes.

So I’m in the 7am train now into the city where I will change over to the V-Line train to Seymour at Southern Cross Station. I can use my Myki card all the way. The Seymour train runs hourly and there’s no need to book. I’ll get off at Talkarook, the last station before Seymour, as the GVRT starts there. I should be on my way by 10am, and I predict reaching the campsite about 3pm. I’ll get the tent set up and after that I guess I’ll be twiddling my thumbs.

that is actually what scares me most about this trip…the time on my hands at the end of the day…

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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