MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Seven (3 April) – Moe to Traralgon

For all posts on the MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage and an explanation of the undertaking, click here.


MWW Day Seven – Original plan, not what I finally ended up doing (I’ll update this map when I have time…)


This is the road I ended up taking to avoid the busy roads

This is the road I ended up taking to avoid the busy roads

Day Seven! Astonishing to think that we have been going so long. So tonight we are in Traralgon, staying with Fr Bernard Buckley. But to start with our evening last night une’er Fr Harry Dyer OMI’s hospitality. We attended the Vigil mass, which was led by Fr Matthew, and Indian priest who is the assistant in the parish. There was a baptism of a young infant, which accounted for about 25% of the attendance. Most of the regulars were quite elderly. Fr Harry said that that is normal for the parish. After mass, the two priests took us around to the local RSL club for dinner (the Chinese restaurant was closed). Back at the presbytery, we spent some time over coffee and tea chatting before heading to bed.

It was the end of Daylight Saving last night, and it rather mucked my internal clock up. As a result I was away far too early – I thought. But the time went quickly, especially as I had to help Sean work out what he was going to do with regard to his worsening blister problem. In the end, we worked out that he should take the day off, go to the local after hours clinic when it opened at 2:30pm, and then get the train on to Traralgon. Fr Harry then offered to drive Sean to the Traralgon presbytery after the Divine Mercy devotions in the Church, as he was going to visit his sister who lives in that district for dinner in any case.

Josh made a sudden appearance at about 7:45am, ate a quick breakfast then disappeared out the door for the train station without saying goodbye. I was a bit miffed at this, so hurriedly finished packing my backpack so that I could catch up with him at the station before his train came in. I bade a hasty goodbye to Sean with full instructions to ring me and keep me posted on what was happening with his treatment, and rushed out the door. I caught up with Josh at the station. He hadn’t meant to leave without saying goodbye, but wasn’t sure where I was when he was leaving and was anxious to get the station on time. At least we got to say a proper farewell. He stayed in touch while travelling back to Melbourne, with a running commentary on all the places we had visited as his train zoomed past them. I in turn kept him updated on my journey by instant messaging photos to him. Telstra was having a “free data day” to apologise for their latest stuff up, and so there was no worries about the data involved in these communications. In fact, an article I read this morning recommended that one way of using the free data today would be to upload all your photos to Google Photos, an app of which I had not previously heard. It provides a full backup of all your photos to unlimited number for free! I’ll do that, I thought, and have been slowly uploading all 2600 during the day.

So I was on my way. The first part of the journey involved walking the Moe-Yallourn Rail Trail. It is a very good, well made trail, with very even terrain and dead straight for most of the way until it curves around the side of a hill where it meets the Latrobe River. It is about 8.5km from end to end. The problem I found with it was that the vegetation on either side of the trail was so dense you couldn’t see the surrounding country-side. Or the trail was sunk into a deep cutting with the same effect. But for most of the length of the trail, there are side tracks available for walking, which provide a better view.

When the trail gets to the Latrobe River, there is a sign pointing down to the rive and a rather difficult trail going down to a nice walk along the river. I took this, through groves of pine forest, and came out at the Yallourn Power station, with the huge cooling towers looking high above me. A very impressive sight close up.

From here on in the trail became more difficult. The only option from this point is to walk on the road. There is hardly any verge, and the road cuts through steep sides. On top of this, even on a Sunday, the traffic is rather busy. I didn’t like it at all. Thankfully, it is only about 4km to Yallourn North. There I visited the Catholic Church (which was naturally locked up), and bought some lunch from the Foodworks across the road: a quiche, a couple of Don kabanos, a box of blueberry muffins (going out cheap), and a bottle of Fat Yak beer. I took my little picnic back to the Church grounds to eat.

After this, I hit the road again, travelling out of town on North Road which became Brown Coal Mine Road (aptly named for the said coal mine which it skirted). This road was the same story as the road into Yallourn North: no verge and too much traffic. The prearranged route had me following this road all the way to Tyre. B—r that for a joke, I thought, and got out my google maps to find an alternative. In the end, I chose to turn off a the Tanjil East Road. This was slightly less busy than the road to Tyers. Still too busy though. So after consulting Google Earth again, I turned south onto Derham’s Lane, a gravel road leading south about 5.5km to connect with the Old Melbourne Road. There were signs up all the way along warning of approaching Log Trucks. Naturally on a Sunday this was not a bother, but if you are following this route, just be aware that there could be considerably more traffic on a normal weekday. I was tempted to take a shortcut on one of the Forestery trails, and started down one, before seeing a sign saying that unauthorised persons were not allowed in the area.The “area” was rather ill defined, but I decided not to press my luck. In any case, I would simply have run up against the large paper mill.

From the top of Derham’s Lane, I could look back west and see the Power Station directly in front of me and Yallourn North just off to the right. To the left I could see the hill around which the rail trail curved and Moe was directly behind that. I found myself wondering if I had made an error going to Yallourn North, but realised after a bit of consideration that it was either that or the M1 Freeway – there is simply no other getting around the huge open cut coal mine between Moe and Traralgon.

Once on the Old Melbourne Road, it was back to bitumen and traffic again, although not on the scale of the previous section to the north. There saving graces for this road (compared with the previous route): slightly less traffic (again), a wide verge on the road itself, anod the occasional side track parallel to the road. The latter could be either a logging track along the edge of the forest or a horse trail. In either case, you had to be careful, because sometimes there trails would come to a dead end (or a creek), and sometimes they would vere off in the wrong direction.

The Old Melbourne Road runs strait into town, meeting the town at Kay Street, which is a divided road. Between the two lanes of traffic is a lovely lawned garden heading for about 2kms into the town itself. A paved trail runs all the way along the centre of this garden down to the Catholic Church. The shiny bronze doors of St Michael’s Catholic Church stood open and beckoning.

Full distance walking today according to the GPS was 34.52km, while the estimate distance of the original rout was 32.9km. That makes it the second longest journey – the longest being the third day.

I went inside the Church, and immediately spotted Fr Bernard in the front pew listening to the band that was rehearsing for tonight’s mass. They were very decent singers and musicians, singing songs from “As One Voice”. After introducing myself to Fr Bernard, I asked if he would hear my confession, which he readily agreed to do. It is Divine Mercy Sunday, and as well as having certian things weigh on my mind on m walk today on my own, I also wished to gain the Plenary Indulgence for today’s devotions.

Sean had gone out looking at the local establishments, and returned for the start of the mass. The mass was very devotional, well attended (it was the third mass in the Church for the weekend) by a much younger group of people than the mass last night in Moe, and racially mixed. After the mass we spend some time chatting to some of the locals about their church and their service in the parish. Father then took us ack to his presbytery and settled us in our rooms. Never has a shower felt so good!

Dinner was apricot chicken with a nice glass of wine. We had an enjoyable conversation with Fr Bernard. His assistant priest does not live in the new presbytery, but uses the flat in the old presbytery, which is now the parish house.

Before retiring, I talked to both Josh – who is now safely home and already planning his next jaunt – and Cathy and the kids. Tomorrow we hit the road again for Cowwar, so an early start once more. No time to post the picture gallery tonight – check again in the morning.

For all the pictures of today’s journey, click here for the album on Google Photos.

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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