MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016-2019

Mary MacKillopIn 2016, the 150th anniversary year of the founding of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, David Schütz, Seán Deany and Josh Martin, began a walking pilgrimage from the birthplace of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop in Fitzroy, Victoria, to her shrine and tomb in North Sydney, New South Wales – a distance of more than 1200kms. This pioneering endeavour was completed on 26 April 2019.

It is our intention now to make our way in the other direction: from Fitzroy to Penola, where St Mary answered her calling and, together with Fr Julian Tenison-Woods, founded the Order of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. We will embark on this section of the Way on 1 October 2019.

Background

In 2010, Seán Deany approached the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre with an idea for an Australian pilgrimage trail linking places of significance in the life of St Mary Mary MacKillop and the co-founder of the Sisters of St Joseph, Fr Julian Tenison-Woods. Sean dubbed this trail: “The MacKillop-Woods Way”.

The Centre endorsed this idea, from which has since developed the “Aussie Camino” pilgrimage, inaugurated by Seán and Luke Mills in April 2014. This trail, covering a distance of about 170km from Portland in Victoria to Penola in South Australia over seven days, has been repeated many times since. Developed further by Luke Mills, 2-4 groups walk this route every year with leaders and backup support.

However, Seán’s original vision was much broader: inspired by the Camino de Santiago (which he has walked several times) Seán envisaged a trail leading all the way from Port Augusta to Melbourne (via Adelaide and Penola) and then on to Sydney (via Eden). In 2012 and 2014 he completed walking and cycling the Port Augusta to Melbourne route.

MacKillop Woods Way

David Schütz, who works for Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, participated in the inaugural “Aussie Camino” led by Luke Mills in April 2014. He repeated this experience in December 2014 and April 2015. During this time he began to think of the possibility of a walking pilgrimage from St Mary’s birthplace in Fitzroy to her tomb and shrine in North Sydney. When Seán heard of this, he immediately asked to come along. Another pilgrim, Josh, joined the pair, raising the company to three.

So on 28 March 2016 (Easter Monday), David, Seán and Josh embarked on the Easetern half of “The MacKillop-Woods Way”. For the sake of practicality, they planned the pilgrimage from Melbourne to Sydney over four sections, intending to walk two weeks every year in the Easter Holidays in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. From 28 March to 9 April, 2016, they walked from Melbourne to Bairnsdale in East Gippsland. Six months later October 2016 they returned to Bairnsdale to walk the East Gippsland Rail Trail all the way to Orbost, leaving Bairnsdale on 2 October and arriving in Orbost on 5 October.

On Easter Monday 2017 (17 April), David and Seán – with assistance from driver and cyclist Paul Coghlan – left Melbourne and drove to Orbost. Leaving Orbost on 18 April, they walked to Eden via Bendoc, Bombala and the Towamba Valley, reaching the halfway mark on 26 April.

Then in 2018, the three pilgrims, David, Seán and Josh, reunited to work their way up the east coast of New South Wales. The left Eden on 16 April and arrived in Milton/Ulladulla on 27 April.

Finally, on 14 April 2019 (Palm Sunday) David and Seán returned to Narooma and then (on 15 April) to Milton to walk the rest of the way to St Mary MacKillop’s tomb and shrine in North Sydney (Josh joined them on 16 April in Sussex Inlet). They celebrated Easter in Wollongong along the way and arrived at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney on Friday 26 April.

The pilgrimage received the blessing of Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, Bishop Patrick O’Regan of Sale, Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra-Goulburn, and Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney. The Congregational Leadership of the Sisters of St Joseph in North Sydney and the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre gave the endeavour their blessing.

As with the “Aussie Camino”, Seán prepared a pilgrim “passport” in which the pilgrims collected stamps from the parishes and towns they visit. Their hope was that by pioneering a viable route and walking it themselves, others may follow in their footsteps, and “The MacKillop-Woods Way” from the birthplace of St Mary to her tomb may one day become a recognised Australian pilgrimage trail.

Below is a chronological list of links to the journal entries which David Schütz kept each day of the pilgrimage on this blog. Should you wish to learn more about the route they took, their accommodation arrangements and other logistics, David would very much welcome contact from you.

First Leg of the MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage:
Fitzroy to Bairnsdale (28 March to 9 April, 2016)

First Leg Map and Schedule

In 2016, local parishes, including Emerald, Drouin-Warragul, Moe, Traralgon, Cowwarr, Bairnsdale and Orbost, showed their enthusiasm for the idea of “The MacKillop-Woods Way”, by offering accommodation to the three pilgrims along the way. Many other locals, businesses, hotels, cafes and restaurants showed interest and support for the walkers.

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day One
(Easter Monday, 28 March, 2016: Fitzroy to Wantirna South)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Two
(Easter Tuesday, 29 March, 2016: Wantirna South to Emerald)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Three
(Wednesday, 30 March, 2016: Emerald to Tynong North)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Four
(Thursday, 31 March, 2016: Tynong North to Drouin)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Five
(Friday, 1 April, 2016: Drouin to Yarragon)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Six
(Saturday, 2 April, 2016: Yarragon to Moe)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Seven
(Divine Mercy Sunday, 3 April, 2016: Moe to Traralgon)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Eight
(Monday, 4 April, 2016: Traralgon to Cowwarr)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Nine
(Tuesday, 5 April, 2016: Rest Day in Cowwar)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Ten
(Wednesday, 6 April, 2016: Cowwarr to Maffra)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Eleven
(Thursday, 7 April, 2016: Maffra to Munro)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Twelve
(Friday, 8 April, 2016: Munro to Lindenow)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016: Day Thirteen
(Saturday, 9 April, 2016: Lindenow to Bairnsdale)

Sean prepared a “passport” along the lines of the Camino de Santiago credentials for the pilgrims to collect stamps in along the way.

Pilgrim Passport for the First Leg of the MacKillop-Woods Way from Fitzroy VIC to Bairnsdale VIC completed in April 2016

For those interested in statistics, the original Google Earth measurement for the entire first leg of the MacKillop-Woods Way pilgrimage from Fitzroy to Bairnsdale was 320km. David’s realtime GPS measurement came in at 366kms. So let’s call it a round 340kms!

Second Leg of the MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage:
Part A: Bairnsdale to Orbost (30 September to 5 October, 2016)

The logistics of the second leg (Bairnsdale to Eden) were difficult, so Seán, Josh and I decided to complete the “easy bit”, 100km along the East Gippsland Rail Trail from Bairnsdale to Orbost over four days from 2 to 5 October 2016, staying at Bairnsdale, Bruthen, Nowa Nowa, Tostaree and Orbost. This made the next section (Orbost to Eden via Bombala) more manageable in the following year.

I had a better app to measure my distances on this section, and so can confidently state that the distance from Bairnsdale to Orbost is just over 100km, my app measuring 103.5km. By the end of this section we had covered 443.5km from Fitzroy.

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MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016 II: On the Way again!
(Friday, 30 September, 2016:Catching up and looking forward)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016 II: Day One
(Sunday, 2 October, 2016: Bairnsdale to Bruthen)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016 II: Day Two
(Monday, 3 October, 2016: Bruthen to Nowa Nowa)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016 II: Day Three
(Tuesday, 4 October, Feast of St Francis, 2016: Nowa Nowa to Tostaree)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2016 II: Day Four
(Wednesday, 5 October, 2016: Tostaree to Orbost)

Second Leg of the MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage:
Part B: Orbost to Eden (17 to 27 April, 2017)

The 2017 leg of the MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage from Orbost to Eden via Bombala. The different colours each indicate a day’s walk.

On Easter Monday, 17 April 2017, Seán and I, in the company of our friend Paul Coghlan, set off for another leg of our pilgrimage . Unfortunately, Josh was not be able to join us for this leg. Paul was our driver and backup as we were heading into remote territory. He was also getting ready for a cycling tour through Italy from Sicily to Lake Como, and cycled this section of the pilgrimage in preparation. We walked for nine days (approximately 250kms) as we travelled from Orbost in Victoria, to Goongerah, Bendoc, into New South Wales to Craigie, Bombala, Towamba and finally arrived at Eden on the NSW coast on 26 April. The entire leg was just on 250km, making the distance covered so far 693km from Fitzroy, well over half way to Sydney (which is estimated at another 525km).

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2017: A new beginning
(Monday, 17 April 2017: Arrival in Orbost)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2017: Day One
(Tuesday, 18 April, 2017: Orbost to Sardine Creek on the Old Bonang Highway)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2017: Day Two
(Wednesday, 19 April, 2017: Sardine Creek to Goongerah along Bonang Highway)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2017: Day Three
(Thursday, 20 April, 2017: Goongerah to Bendoc)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2017: Day Four
(Friday, 21 April, 2017) – Bendoc to Craigie)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2017: Day Five
(Saturday, 22 April, 2107: Craigie to Aston Creek/Bombala)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2017: Day Six
(Sunday, 23 April, 2017: Aston Creek, Bombala, to Cathcart

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2017: Day Seven
(Monday, 24 April, 2017: Cathcart to Burragate)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2017: Day Eight
(Tuesday, 25 April, 2017, Anzac Day: Burragate to Towamba)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2017: Day Nine
(Wednesday, 26 April, 2017: Towamba to Eden)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2017: End of the Road (for now)
Mary MacKillop Hall, Mass and Travelling Home from Eden

Pilgrim Passport for the Second Leg of the MacKillop-Woods Way from Bairnsdale VIC to Eden NSW (Completed in October 2016 and April 2017)

Third Leg of the MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage:
Eden NSW to Ulladulla/Milton NSW (17 to 28 April, 2018

Sean, Josh and I returned by train to Eden on 16 April 2018 – two weeks after Easter this year to fit in with the Tasmanian school holidays for Josh, but still around our usual “pilgrimage season”. We enjoyed 11 days of perfect weather, only getting rain on our last day. This was a tough section – unsupported with a backup vehicle, and with no rail trails to ease our way. But we received a great amount of help and assistance from the people, secretaries and priests of the parishes along the way, which more than compensated for any hardship. Our special thanks go to the Parishes of Eden/Pambula, Tathra/Bermagui, Narooma, Moruya/Batemans Bay, and Ulladulla/Milton, and specifically to our hosts, Mike and Judy Sheppard, Fr Luke Verrell, Colleen and John Manns, Margaret Latimer, and Eileen Hogg. Most of this section was in the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese, whose Archbishop, Christopher Prowse, has been very supportive. We’d also like to thank John McLaurin, editor of the Canberra Catholic Voice, for lots of publicity. We entered into the Diocese of Woolongong in the last couple of days. By the end of this section, we had completed just over 1000km from Fitzroy.

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Back to Eden
(Monday, 16 April, 2018: Train and bus from Melbourne to Eden)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day One
(Tuesday, 17 April, 2018: Eden to Merimbula)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day Two
(Wednesday, 18 April, 2018: Merimbula to Tathra (23.95km by Coastal Route)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day Three
(Thursday, 19 April, 2018: Tathra to Murrah)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day Four
(Friday, 20 April, 2018: Murrah to Central Tilba via Bermagui)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day Five
(Saturday, 21 April, 2018: Central Tilba to Narooma)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day Six
(Sunday 22 April, 2018: Narooma to Bodalla)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day Seven
(Monday, 23 April, 2018: Bodalla to Moruya)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day Eight
(Tuesday, 24 April, 2018: Moruya to Batehaven)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day Nine
(Wednesday, 25 April, 2018, Anzac Day: Batehaven to Surfside)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day Ten
(Thursday, 26 April, 2018: Surfside to Kioloa)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day Eleven
(Friday, 27 April, 2018: Kioloa to Ulladulla)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2018: Day Twelve and Thirteen
(Saturday, 18 April, and Sunday 19 April, 2018: Milton to Ulladulla to Eden to Melbourne)

Fourth and Final Leg of the MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage:
Milton to North Sydney, NSW (15 – 26 April, 2019)

Three years since we started from Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, on 28 March 2016, Sean and I set off again from Melbourne by bus on Palm Sunday 14 April 2019. We stayed at Narooma with our host Margaret from last year, and the next day she drove us to Milton to begin the fourth and final leg of the MacKillop-Woods Way. Josh joined us at the end of our second day of walking at Sussex Inlet (having taken the plane to Sydney, the bus to Wandandian, and walking the rest of the way). We were given assitance along the way by the Narooma Parish, Milton/Ulladulla parish, the Sussex Inlet Marine Centre, the Nowra Parish, the Christian Brothers at Gerringong and Stanwell Park, some very kind folk in Bundeena, the Sacred Heart Monastery in Kensington, and by the Archbishop of Sydney.  Thanks to these kind folk, we were welcomed to our destination on Friday 26 April by Sister Anne Pardie RSJ.

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 0
(Palm Sunday 14 April 2019: Melbourne to Narooma)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 1
(Monday 15 April 2019: Conjola to Milton)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 2
(Tuesday 16 April 2019: Conjola to Sussex Inlet)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 3
(Wednesday 17 April 2019: Sussex Inlet to Huskisson)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 4
(Maundy Thursday 18 April: Huskisson to Nowra)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 5
(Good Friday 19 April 2019: Nowra to Gerringong)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 6
(Holy Saturday 20 April 2019: Gerringong to Shellharbour)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 7
(Easter Sunday 21 April 2019: Shellharbour to Wollongong)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 8
(Easter Monday 22 April 2019: Wollongong to Woonona)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 9
(Easter Tuesday 23 April 2019: Woonona to Otford)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 10
(Wednesday 24 April 2019: Otford to Bundeena)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 11
(Thursday 25 April 2019 (Anzac Day): Cronulla to Kensington)

MacKillop-Woods Way Pilgrimage 2019: Day 12
(Friday 26 April 2019: Kensington to Waverly Cemetary & North Sydney)