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February 2022 Newsletter.
Camino Training Walk and Meetup February 2022.

SATURDAY 26th FEBRUARY 2022
TRAINING WALK: Katoomba
8:45am for a 9:00am start.

JOIN US for our regular last Saturday of the month training walk - this month from Carrington Park in Katoomba.  You don't have to be an experienced Camino Pilgrim, but you may aspire to one day walk a Camino or other pilgrimage. Walk with like-minded people in the beautiful Blue Mountains in the spirit of the Camino. It's an opportunity to train for and learn more about the Camino experience. Please know your own walking ability!

Meet:  Carrington Park, Katoomba. (Cnr Carrington Ave and Merriwa Street)

Time:  Meet 8.45am for 9.00am start.

Walk 1 - Easy/Medium.  
Heading down via the Prince Henry Cliff Walk to Echo Point and onto Katoomba Falls, exiting near the old Katoomba Kiosk and returning to Katoomba via road.  This walk affords some stunning views over the Jamieson Valley from the many lookouts, there are lots of steps but not too strenuous.  Closed in footwear is essential, the track may be muddy from any recent rains.   Approx. 3-3.5 hours/8km return to Katoomba.   After the walk, you may wish to meet at the Mountain Brewery, Parke St Katoomba for refreshments before departing via Katoomba Station, a short distance away or return to your car.

Whilst there will be an opportunity for a short break at Echo Point (refreshments and toilets) please do carry minimum 1.5 litres of water and snacks.  

Walk 2 - Medium/Hard.  Valley and Forest route
Descending into the Jamieson Valley via 000's of steep steps and metal stairs to Leura Forest where ancient rainforest plants flourish,  passing several delightful waterfalls and creek crossings.  The route takes in Dardanelles track and the Federal  Pass with the escarpment rising high above. The route continues at the base of Katoomba Falls before the climb back up Furber Steps (a combination of metal and sandstone steps, all 966 of them!   You will exit out of the Jamieson Valley passing Witches Leap to the old Katoomba Kiosk on Cliff Drive.   Approx. 6 hours/10KM.  

After the walk, you may wish to meet at the Mountain Brewery, Parke St Katoomba for refreshments before departing via Katoomba Station, a short distance away or return to your car.

Please note, the Hard walk has many many stairs and steps both down and up (approx. 1300 down and 966 up)!!!  The paths will be muddy and uneven, good solid walking shoes/boots are essential for this walk. Carry a minimum 2 litres of water, snacks, lunch and first aid kit including insect repellent.  There maybe leaches in the valley.  There are no toilet facilities.  Once down in the valley the only way out is via steep stairs & steps.  You may wish to take the Scenic World Railway, tickets at your own cost.

To Register for our Training Walk go to our Trybooking link  HERE.

Since January 2022 we introduced a $5.00pp registration fee for each Camino Training Walk.  This will be paid via Trybooking when you register for the walk.  The fee is being introduced to cover expenses such as our insurance, website and printing costs.
Photos:  Leura Forest, Furber Steps, Katoomba Falls, One of several waterfalls in Leura Forest
My Journey from a Texas Camino to a
Blue Mountains Camino 
By Jo Vonna Hill, Feb 2022.
My fascination with the Camino de Santiago began on a trip to San Francisco with my husband in March 2003 when I spied a newspaper insert on the hotel floor that had fallen from a newspaper. The article entitled, “Spain’s Camino de Santiago turns a nonbeliever into one of the faithful” intrigued me. Travel writer, Catherine Watson, did a beautiful job with the article and as I read, I became more and more certain I would someday walk the pilgrimage.  I told my husband that day that I would walk the Camino de Santiago. Although he had no interest himself, he encouraged me to dream about this exciting adventure and go for it.

At the time there were few books written about the Camino de Santiago but over the years other people became fascinated as well. My collection of books grew and grew and at one point I had a big canvas tote embroidered with a scallop shell and the words Camino de Santiago. The original article, my journals, and several books live in this tote. I have dreamed and planned my Camino for many years but responsibilities in Houston of raising four children and owning businesses from realizing my Spanish travel dreams.
However, in 2019 I decided it was finally time to realize that dream and I made plans to set out on the Camino de Santiago in September 2020. My backpack was packed and ready to go then COVID-19 hit. Once again, my Camino was delayed. I got myself through the disappointment of my delayed Camino and the virus induced stress by walking a virtual Camino on trails around my home. While I walked, I listened to a wonderful podcast about the Camino called “My Camino – the Podcast” by Dan Mullins. Dan conducts inspirational interviews with people from all over the world about their Camino experience.
 
Before COVID, I travelled to Australia at least twice a year to visit my son and his family in Sydney and my daughter in Brisbane. I love Australia and was missing my Aussie family desperately, so imagine my surprise when I realized Dan is based in Sydney! I remember one interview in particular where he was interviewing someone in a downtown Sydney café. The sounds of the Sydney street in the background made me feel as though I were in the Sydney café as well. Listening to Dan’s interviews made me feel a little less far away from my family and the Camino. Honestly, it helped me get through some very tough days and kept my Camino dream very much alive.
As I walked, I just let the podcast go immediately to the next interview without knowing who Dan would interview next. I will never forget the day as I was walking and heard Dan’s interview of the couple, Rowan and Margaret, who had moved from Sydney to the Blue Mountains to start a Camino experience.  I hiked in the Blue Mountains several times over the years and every time I dreamed of my Spanish Camino as I walked.  I don’t know how to describe what I felt when I heard about Glenella that day other than it made me cry. Maybe it just sparked a bit of hope at a time when I needed a reminder that someday world travel would open and dreams could begin again.  I sat on the side of the trail to look up Glenella and Blackheath on my phone. I learned everything I could about Glenella, the Blue Mountains Camino Supporters Group, and I even looked at the train schedule as if I was getting ready to board.  I knew that in addition to hugging and kissing my Aussie family, there were two things I would do as soon as I was able to travel Australia again.

First, I would go to Glenella to walk with this group of Camino lovers.  I am very happy to say that on the last weekend of January I finally rode that train to Blackheath.  I will not go into details, but I had several experiences of serendipity as I walked up the street to Glenella. The first person I met was Rowan who was walking up behind me as I started through the entrance to Glenella.  As he introduced himself, he said jokingly that I looked like a tourist because I was taking photos of everything. He was right!  I was taking everything in. Then, I was greeted with a great smile and a warm hug from Margaret as soon as I walked through the door. The warm welcome was just the beginning of an amazing weekend.  I got to walk for two days with an amazing group of people in the Blue Mountains.  I stayed at the beautiful Glenella where we cooked pizza together in the big kitchen, listened to some inspirational speakers, watched a Camino movie and the Australian (Tennis) Open, drank wine, and talked late into the night.  I did not need the train schedule for my return to Sydney.  A new and dear friend gave me a ride back after the beautiful weekend came to a close.  I know I will be back and I hope it will be soon.

The second thing I knew I would do on this trip to Sydney is to go listen to Dan perform his music.  As I am writing this article, I am planning to see Dan perform at Bondi Diggers and Golf Club.  I just learned that Rowan and Margaret will be joining me and possibly a few more from the Blue Mountains Camino Supporters.

How lucky is this Texas gal? I found like-minded people so far away from home who share my dream and became dear friends.  I’ve made my way from my Texas Camino to my Blue Mountains Camino.  Barring any further setbacks, with the support and love of my wonderful husband cheering me on, I will set foot on my Spanish Camino in March of 2023.  A full 20 years after I read the article that sparked my dream.  See you on the trails, my friends.  Buen Camino!

Photo:  Jo Vonna at Hourn Point, Mt Victoria  February 2022.
OUR JANUARY TRAINING WALK AND CAMINO MEETUP.
A full house of many excited pilgrims arrived Friday afternoon for a Camino weekend at Glenella Albergue. They came from far afield including Central Coast, many from Sydney and the Blue Mountains and a visitor from Texas, USA.   Saturday morning Camino Training Walk had an earlier start time for the walk from Blackheath to Mt Piddington/Hourn Point.  Attempts were made to separate the 50 walkers into four groups with limited success.  Once the groups arrived at Fairy Bower some decided to head for Mt Victoria Station for train back to Blackheath, some walked back to Blackheath whilst the majority continued onto Mt Piddington (the highest point in the Blue Mountains at 1111m) and Hourn Point with the stunning views over Kanimbla Valley. 
A perfect day for walking with lots of  beaming faces to be outdoors and much Camino chatter and friendship.

Our Camino Meetup, hosted by Margaret and Rowan at Glenella was held outside in the rear garden. We started with a poem recited by Eileen.
 
Walking, I am listening to a
deeper way. Suddenly all my
ancestors are behind me.
Be still, they say. Watch and
listen. You are the result
of the love of thousands.

                    Linda Hogan
 
Special guest speakers for the afternoon Camino Meetup were Alexander (Zan) Campbell who told us of his 3750km walk from the Flinders Ranges to Sydney, why he does long-distance walking and his future walks in the planning. Zan told us he carries a base weight of 4.5kg, before food and water, in  his backpack and walks around 40kms per day! 

Our other special guest was Sue Stephenson from Casa Susi in Trabadello, Spain on the Camino Frances and is currently visiting family in Sydney.  Sue gave us an update on the Camino front and how it was finally being able to reopen Casa Susi and welcoming pilgrims (tears!). She provided tips for our fellow pilgrims who are about to embark on their Camino in coming months as well as Casa Susi roof update.  Sue passed on love and gratitude from  Fermin (in Trabadelo, we missed you) and herself for all the love and support, both monetary and in spirit, during these difficult COVID times.
Photos:  A smiling Susi amongst the gathered for Camino Meetup; Narelle & Zan; freshly baked Santiago tart with flowers arranged by Susi; pilgrims from Heathcote, Avoca and Texas chatting at Glenella; Susi being interviewed by Sharise and Margaret.
2022 Blue Mountains Camino 5-Day Walks.
5-DAY WALKS IN 2022

The Blue Mountain Camino Admin Team are this year offering four Blue Mountain Camino 5-Day Walks, this is due to the demand we experienced for the 5-Day walks last year.

The four dates offered in 2022:
  • March 22-26
  • May 3-7
  • September 6-10
  • October 25-29
Participant numbers are limited. To allow as many pilgrims as possible to join one of the 5-Day Walks in 2022, initially only one walk can be booked. If space allows a pilgrim may be able to join additional walks. You can register your interest for the other 5-Day Walks in 2022 on the "Waitlist" (more details below).

NOTE:  
  • If you are still considering the March 2022 Walk, it is suggested you book ASAP.
  • For those on the Waitlist for the March 2022 Walk you will be able to book your March Walk from 6PM (AEDT) on Monday the 21st of February
The Blue Mountains Camino 5-Day Walk starts in Penrith at the base of the Blue Mountains, each day the walk starts and finishes at a train station, Pilgrims can easily catch a train to and from the start and finish of each day. The walk visits many of the Mountains Villages along the way, you will walk on bush tracks, fire trails, secondary roads and in some cases footpaths along the highway. There are opportunities each day to visit scenic locations and to divert from the Direct Route. You will walk an average of 13-18km each day with the first day being the longest day at 23km. The distance you walk each day is up to you, you can choose to start and finish the days walk where you like.

There are 50 places available for each 5-Day Walk. Glenella "Albergue" in Blackheath can host 25 Pilgrims and is offering a 6 night accommodation package (arriving Monday, departing Sunday). Rooms/beds will be allocated on a ballot basis. Once you have indicated via Trybooking you would like to stay at Glenella, you will be contacted by Glenella to arrange your booking and payment.

Pilgrims not staying at Glenella need to make their own accommodation arrangements.

The cost of the 2022 Blue Mountains Camino 5-Day Walk is $75 per person.

This fee includes both Printed and Digital maps, an online Info Portal, Pilgrim Events, Insurance, Mementos, Credentials and Stamps. There will be a Pilgrim Event on Day 3 at the Blue Labyrinth in Woodford and various events during the week at Glenella. These events are for all pilgrims who have registered for the 5-Day, regardless of where they are staying. 

Pilgrims can join the Blue Mountains Camino Supporters WhatsApp Group to stay in touch with others and co-ordinate gatherings and logistics during the 5-Day walk.

We ask that you join the Blue Mountains Camino 5-Day Walk in the spirit of the Camino, this is not a guided walk, it is an opportunity to walk with like minded people.

To Book a 5-Day Walk in 2022, Click Here.*

To Register on the Waitlist for other 5-Day Walks in 2022, Click Here.*

*A note for couples booking this year, individual registration are required for all walkers.

Extending your 5-Day Walk:
Last year some pilgrims choose to start earlier from downtown Sydney 5 days prior, others from Parramatta 3 days prior. There is also the opportunity to add a Day 6 to your walk by continuing on to Mt Victoria on the Sunday. There will be more information about these extensions and how to join this informal group on the 5-Day Info Portal (accessible once you have registered for a 5-Day)
2022 Calander of Events.
  • Saturday 26th February
    • Training Walk - Katoomba.
    • Casual meetup at Mountain Brewery post the walk.
    • Book here:  FEB WALK
  • Tuesday 22nd March to Saturday 26th March
  • Saturday 26th March
    • Training Walk - Katoomba to Blackheath. 
    • Meetup at Glenella post the walk.
    • Details will be in the March Newsletter.
  • Saturday 30th April
    • Training Walk and Camino Meetup - Wentworth Falls. 


Save the Dates..
  • Tuesday 3rd to Saturday 7th May,  5-Day Walk

  • Saturday 28th May, Training Walk and Camino Meetup

  • Saturday 25th June, Training Walk and Camino Meetup

  • Sunday 24th July, Feast of St James Day Eve dinner

  • Saturday 30th July, Training Walk and Camino Meetup

  • Saturday 27th August, Training Walk and Camino Meetup

  • Tuesday 6th to Saturday 10th September, 5-Day Walk

  • Saturday 24th September, Training Walk and Camino Meetup

  • Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th October, 5-Day Walk

  • Saturday 29th October, Training Walk and Camino Meetup

  • Saturday 26th November, Training Walk and Camino Meetup


 
All our events are subject to the current COVID-19 situation.
If we cannot gather face to face, we will host virtual events where we can. 
Stay Well, Walk Well
 
We hope you will join us in 2022.
Camino Events Around Australia.
Australian Friends of the Camino [AFOTC]
 2nd National Conference


The organising team for this years National Conference regret they have had to cancel the conference for 2022. New Dates will be published as soon as they become available.
Who's On the Way!
To Inspire, To Share, To Connect.....
 
Now that we are permitted to travel internationally again, many of you are starting to make your Camino dreams a reality with planning and flight bookings to do your Camino in 2022 and beyond.
 
Here are our first Pilgrims with flights booked and plans well underway for 2022. You can see the Virtual "On The Way Board"  HERE. 

Janine, from St Jean Pied de Port 27th April,
Diane, from St Jean Pied de Port 27th April,
Sandra R, from St Jean Pied de Port 27th April,
Tessa, from St Jean Pied de Port on 27th April,
(A very strong Australian start on the 27th in SJPdP)

Tony and Johann, Camino de Norte, April

David M, Lausanne to Rome, via Francigina,  24th August

Will and Connie, St Olav in Norway, May

George & Benjamin, Camino Frances, late April and May

Pamela & Terry, Camino del Norte, early May

Roger and Liz, The Fishermans Way, September/October

Narelle, Piemont Route (also known as the Pyrenean Foothill Way), 10th April,  
followed by parts of several Camino routes in Spain.  

If you would like to share your plans or connect with one of these fellow Australian Pilgrims when you’re On The Way, drop us a line HERE.
 
Buen Camino To All!
 
Blue Mountains Camino Supporters Pilgrim Record and Camino Badges.
The Blue Mountains Camino Supporters "Pilgrim Record" has been developed for pilgrims to record their walks here in the Blue Mountains or anywhere.  Collect pilgrim stamps each time you walk with us here in the Mountains, write your reflections, collect business cards or mementos to keep in your Pilgrim Record.

Each Pilgrim Record costs $8.00.  You can purchase these at our Camino Training Walks and Meetups.

Acknowledging Maggie Caffryn for the pilgrim design used in the pilgrim record and to the Blue Mountains  Camino Admin Team for their collective ideas inspired by Les.

The Blue Mountains Camino Supporters "Cloth Badges" have been developed for pilgrims to attach to their backpacks, hats, or clothing. The badge measures 8cm in diameter and can be glued or stitched.

Each badge costs $10.00. You can purchase these at our Camino Training Walks and Meetups.
Acknowledging the badge design concept by Jill Day with final design by Chris Osborne.

If you wish a Pilgrim Record or Badge to be mailed to you, please contact us for details.
 
Can you Help?
We could always use your help!  Can you assist in some small way such as leading or sweeping a monthly Saturday morning walk or with the Camino Meetup, baking a Santiago Tart?  Or perhaps you have a suggestion for an event or training walk?  Have you read a great book about the Camino or perhaps seen an inspiring movie or listened to a podcast about the Camino then please EMAIL US and let us know.
About Blue Mountains Camino Supporters.
The Blue Mountains Camino Supporters Inc is a community group run by volunteers with the aim of:
  • Fostering the Camino Spirit in the Blue Mountains.
  • Bringing people together to share their interest and experience in walking a Camino pilgrimage
  • Supporting pilgrims in preparation for their pilgrimage
  • Connecting with other Camino Groups
  • Supporting Camino communities and organisations
 
There is a dedicated team of volunteers who plan, recce and organise the Blue Mountains Camino 5-Day Walks, monthly Training Walks, Camino Meetups and other events.   We hold monthly Camino Training Walks and Meetups on the last Saturday of the month except December. When available Glenella in Blackheath will host Meetups and the Blue Mountains Camino 5-Day Pilgirms. Glenella is owned and managed by Margaret and Rowan Bouttell .
 
                                              The Admin Team                                                     
                               
L-R Johann Saure, Rowan Bouttell, Rosie Edmonds, Tony Hodgson, Carlene Martin, Sharise Watson, Margaret Bouttell

Thank you to the volunteers:
This newsletter is produced by Sharise Watson and Carlene Martin, edited by Margaret Bouttell.
The Blue Mountains Camino Supporters Facebook Page is managed by Carlene Martin and Rosie Edmonds.
Kerrie Girdo and Carlene Martin manage the Blue Mountains Camino Community Group Forum on Facebook.  
Rowan Bouttell and Bob Girdo are tech support, videographers and editors. 
Rowan Bouttell and Nick Batten are our Chief and Deputy Mappers extraordinaire.
Diane Cousins hosts the Camino Swap Table at Glenella
Our website is managed by Johann Saure and Carlene Martin, with Nick Batten also assisting.

The Blue Mountains Camino Supporters was founded in 2015 by Tony & Ce Jacques and Margaret & Rowan Bouttell.  
 
Blue Mountains Camino Supporters acknowledges the Dharug and Gundungurra Traditional Owners have a continuous and deep connection to their Country. We pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.
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Blue Mountains Australia Supporters of the Camino · c/o Glenella Guesthouse · 56 Govetts Leap Road · Blackheath, NSW 2785 · Australia

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