You don't have to travel to Spain to walk a camino.
While Spain has the Camino de Santiago, which wends its way 780km from the French Alps to Santiago de Compostela, WA has the Camino Salvado which has a Spanish connection of its own.
The Camino Salvado follows the footsteps of Spanish Benedictine monk Bishop Dom Salvado who walked 160km from Subiaco to New Norcia several times more than 150 years ago to establish Australia's only monastic town.
Unlike the camino (the Spanish word for a path) in France and Spain, which pilgrims have walked since the Middle Ages, Perth's camino is still a walk in progress.
The trail is not well defined, so to walk WA's camino you need a guide and be part of a group.
The first group of about 25 took up the challenge two years ago. Last year, two groups made the journey and this year there are two pilgrimages leaving St Joseph's Church in Subiaco on Sunday August 21 and Sunday September 4, arriving in New Norcia six days later.
Last year, I managed to walk both caminos, although only 120km of the Spanish version.
We gathered at St Joseph's Church in Salvado Road on a cold morning with rain threatening. Parish priest Father Joseph Walsh's pep-talk reminded us that we were not setting off on "just another walk". It was not a holiday but a pilgrimage.
But walk or pilgrimage, there were still blisters, aching feet and sore knees to deal with.
Once we hit the Hills, we left the roads and followed walk trails along the edge of the Avon River through Walyunga National Park.
The nights were spent around a fire in B&B-style accommodation, with a glass or two of wine to soothe aching bones and comparing experiences.
But nothing could have prepared me for our arrival in New Norcia.The overwhelming emotion of the bells of the New Norcia chapel ringing as we walked towards the monastery was unforgettable.
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