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Welcome to the Blue Mountains Camino Supporters Newsletter February 2020 
 
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From December 2019 into January 2020  the Blue Mountains were being threaten by several bushfires but for the fantastic hard and exhausting work of all our volunteer firefighters from the Rural Fire Service brigades, NPWS and the welcomed help from above with the numerous aircrafts as well as NSWF&R, SES and all emergency services the bushfires were contained and subsequently declared officially OUT over the past few days.  YAY!!  The torrential rains this week hopefully put an end to all the bushfires that were still burning in NSW and ACT.
Sadly though whilst the rains were most welcomed they have brought different issues including landslips.  A section of rail track between Leura and Katoomba saw an awful landslip which may take weeks rather than days to repair.  This means no trains west of Springwood (up the mountains), however services are being replaced by buses so you need to allow additional time for travels.  Also with the rains the Blue Mountains waterfalls and creeks are flowing to put on a magnificent show.  If you are out doing Camino training walks or bushwalking please take extra care, and especially if walking near the bushfire fringes and burnt trees.  
It is wise to check for alerts on NPWS before setting out for walks and livetraffic.com

The Blue Mountains IS OPEN for business and we look forward to seeing you at one or more of our events soon!
Upcoming Events.
Saturday 29 February 2020 Morning Camino Training Walk. Meet by 8:50am for a 9:00am start from Glenella Guesthouse, 56 Govetts Leap Rd, Blackheath. The local Blackheath route TBA, however the morning walk is about 10-12km taking 3-3:30hrs. There is also the option to walk from Blackheath to the Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath and return, this is a fairly flat route approx. 9kms.  More info  
Note:  We will still walk regardless of the weather, the route subject to change at short notice..  

Saturday 29 February 2.00-4.00pm Camino Meetup and afternoon tea, commencing at 2:00pm at Glenella Guesthouse Blackheath, $5.00 Donativo (Cash only).  Special guests Susi and Fermin from Casa Susi, Trabadelo.  See more information below. 
Special guests at Camino Meetup, Saturday 29 February  will be Sue Stephenson and her husband Fermin who own and run Casa Susi in Trabadelo (10kms from Villafranca del Bierzo), stage 26 of John Brierley guide on the Camino Frances.  Sue, an Australian has done at least 10 Caminos.  In May 2017, after a year of renovations on a 300 year old 'casa' she opened the doors for the first time to Casa Susi and has been welcoming pilgrims ever since. 
We look forward to have Sue and Fermin stay in Blackheath on Friday and Saturday nights.  They will share their insights on life on the Camino Frances route.  If you missed catching up with Sue and Fermin at the recent Pilgrims of Sydney gathering at Cheers Bar, then we hope you will be able to join us on the 29th for the Saturday morning walk and afterwards the Camino Meetup at Glenella starting at 2.00pm.  Everyone welcome!   Please  RSVP   so we can plan enough chairs and Santiago Tart.
Thank you to Margaret and Rowan Bouttell for hosting Sue and Fermin at Glenella.
Autumn 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk 
from Penrith to Blackheath.

5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk  24-28 March 2020

Mark your calendars, arrange for time off and register soon for the Autumn 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk.  For the diaries, remember we have two
5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walks for 2020.  Registration open for the Autumn walk, 24-28 March 2020 and save the date for a Spring time walk to be held 22-26 September 2020.  Details for the September walk to be notified.

JOIN our Autumn 5-Day (or part thereof) walking adventure!  Members and friends of the Blue Mountains Camino Supporters  group will again be walking from Penrith, at the base of the Blue Mountains, all the way to Blackheath near the top, finishing with the Camino Meetup at Glenella Guesthouse in Blackheath.  The walking distance is approximately 68-81kms depending on the route chosen.

Why? This is a great opportunity to experience the Camino spirit right here in the Blue Mountains, NSW.  If you’re thinking of walking a Camino in Spain or Portugal, or other pilgrimages elsewhere, what better way to try out your gear and see if you like long distance walking!  And if 5 days is too long you can join the group for fewer days or just one day along the route if you wish.  

How?  Please be aware this is not a ‘guided’ walk but rather a walk with a group of Camino friends travelling up the Blue Mountains.  Each registered person will be provided with the 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk Information Package which includes PDF walking route guide and digital link with two optional routes; a technical route and the  direct route.  The technical route can involve more bush walking and steep inclines up and down into some valleys whilst the direct route is no less scenic and has various bushy sections but may in parts involve more secondary road and pavement walking; it is a walk reminiscent of travelling a Camino in Spain.

Walking a Camino means you might walk on dirt tracks, concrete footpaths and roads as well as through paddocks and rural scenery.  You will encounter hills and steps as Penrith, our starting point is 25m above sea level, and Blackheath is 1065m.   Each days walk is a Station to Station walk for the convenience of start and end point.

Registration:  A lot of effort and work had been made to improve all the tools provided to walkers for last year's walk, and following valuable feedback from pilgrims we have introduced a $25 donation at registration for 2020 walks.  This registration donation will go towards the ongoing development and mapping of the
5-Day Walk route.   To register for the Autumn 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk  via Trybooking   Register Here
The 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk Information Package will be emailed within a few days once confirmation of your registration has been received. 

We look forward to welcoming two pilgrims from the Canberra Camino group.  Thank you for joining us whether you live locally or beyond the Blue Mountains!  
Buen Camino  

Please Email us if you have any questions.  It is recommended to book accommodation early; a summary of the 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk pictured below.

You may wish to view photo albums of the 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk from 2019 on the Blue Mountains Camino Supporters facebook page  Click Here  

Camino Tapas Dinner: Then on the evening of Day 4, 27 March 2020 there is a Camino Dinner being held at the RSL Blackheath-Mt Victoria sub branch hall, 2 Bundarra St, Blackheath.  Pilgrims on the 5-Day Walk may wish to attend, however you are required to RSVP to reserve a place.  More details about the Camino Tapas Dinner  Click Here  

Our sincerest thanks and gratitude to Chris Osborne of Chris Osborne Adventures for his countless hours over several weeks of walking, plotting and mapping the routes from Penrith to Blackheath.  He has prepared (voluntarily) maps and walking guides, due care has been taken to create the maps as accurate as possible, however there may be some inaccuracies.  Chris also created the Blue Mountains Camino Supporters Pilgrim Credential and the 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk map which is now proudly hangs on the wall in the Camino Corner at Glenella Guesthouse.

We also thank Margaret and Rowan Bouttell of Glenella Guesthouse for supporting the 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walks in its planning.

More information  Click Here 

Ulteria!  
Pictured below Summary of the 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk and elevations of the Direct and Technical routes (sample Day 3)

2020 Camino Calendar for your Diary!
Saturday 29th February, Camino Training Walk. Meet at 8:50AM for a 9:00AM Start, at Glenella Guesthouse, Blackheath. Distance 8-12KM
Saturday 29th February, Camino Meetup and afternoon tea, 2:00PM ~ 4:00PM at Glenella Guesthouse Blackheath, $5.00 Donativo (Cash Only). Special guests Sue and Fermin from Casa Susi, Trabadelo, stage 26 on the Camino Frances.

Tuesday 24th March ~ Saturday 28th March, 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk  Penrith to Blackheath. BOOK HERE
Friday 27th March 7:00PM.  Camino Tapas Dinner at Blackheath RSL.  Share a BYO Tapas Meal and guest speaker/s.  More info here 
Saturday 28th March, Camino Training Walk. Meet by 8.20AM for a 8.30AM start, this walk will be from Katoomba Station, joining the 5 day walkers who will be on their final day of walking.  Distance 14KM.
Saturday 28th March, Camino Meetup and afternoon tea, 2:00PM ~ 4:00PM at Glenella Guesthouse Blackheath, $5.00 Donativo (Cash Only)

Saturday 25th April, Camino Training Walk. Meet at 8:50AM for a 9:00AM Start, at Glenella Guesthouse, Blackheath. A special ANZAC Day walk is planned.
Saturday 25th April, Camino Meetup and afternoon tea, 2:00PM ~ 4:00PM at Glenella Guesthouse Blackheath, $5.00 Donativo (Cash Only)

Saturday 30th May, Camino Training Walk. Meet at 8:50AM for a 9:00AM Start, at Glenella Guesthouse, Blackheath. 
Saturday 30th May, Camino Meetup and afternoon tea, 2:00PM ~ 4:00PM at Glenella Guesthouse Blackheath, $5.00 Donativo (Cash Only)

Friday 26th June 7:00PM. BYO Tapas Meal at Blackheath RSL.   Share a BYO Tapas Meal and guest speaker/s
Saturday 27th June, Camino Training Walk. Meet at 8:20AM for an 8:30AM Start, at Warrimoo Station to walk to Woodford, distance 11.5KM.   
Saturday 27th June, Camino Meetup and afternoon tea, 2:00PM ~ 4:00PM at Glenella Guesthouse Blackheath, $5.00 Donativo (Cash Only)

Friday 24th July 7:00PM, Feast of St James eve Dinner at Wentworth Falls Popup Albergue.  (Booking details TBA) 
Saturday 25th July, Camino Training Walk. Morning walk route TBA
Saturday 25th July, Camino Meetup and afternoon tea, 2:00PM ~ 4:00PM at Glenella Guesthouse Blackheath, $5.00 Donativo (Cash Only)
Saturday & Sunday 25-26th July, Camino Waymarker Workshop at Glenella Guesthouse grounds.  Read more details in the article in this newsletter.

Friday 28th August 7:00PM, Camino Movie (TBA) at Mount Vic Flicks. (Booking details TBA)
Saturday 28th August, Camino Training Walk. Meet at 8:20AM for an 8:30AM Start, at Wentworth Falls Station, Wentworth Falls for walk to Katoomba, distance 11KM. 
Saturday 29th August, Camino Meetup and afternoon tea, 2:00PM ~ 4:00PM at Glenella Guesthouse Blackheath, $5.00 Donativo (Cash Only)

Tuesday 22nd ~ Friday 26th September, 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walk, Penrith to Blackheath.  (Booking details TBA)
Saturday 26th September, Camino Training Walk. Meet by 8.20AM for a 8.30AM start, this walk will be from Katoomba Station, joining the 5 day walkers who will be on their final day of walking. Distance 14KM.
Saturday 26th September, Camino Meetup and afternoon tea, 2:00PM ~ 4:00PM at Glenella Guesthouse Blackheath, $5.00 Donativo (Cash Only)

Saturday 31st October, Camino Training Walk. Meet at 8:50AM for a 9:00AM Start, at Glenella Guesthouse, Blackheath. 
Saturday 31st October, Camino Meetup and afternoon tea, 2:00PM ~ 4:00PM at Glenella Guesthouse Blackheath, $5.00 Donativo (Cash Only)

Friday 27th November End of Year Camino Dinner 7:00PM, (Booking details TBA)
Saturday 28th November, Camino Training Walk. Meet at 8:50AM for a 9:00AM Start, at Glenella Guesthouse, Blackheath. 
Saturday 28th November, Camino Meetup and afternoon tea, 2:00PM ~ 4:00PM at Glenella Guesthouse Blackheath, $5.00 Donativo (Cash Only)

NOTE:  Advertised morning walk route subject to change. Some of the monthly Station to Station walks may vary if there are scheduled trackworks.  It is intended the Station to Station walks  provide a taste of some of the routes of the 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walks.
**Camino training walks and Camino Meetups are held the last Saturday of the month, except December.
Walk and Camino Meetup on Saturday 25 January 2020.  Despite the drizzle and thick mountains mist (almost needed a head torch), 22 walkers arrived at Glenella for the morning walk.  It was great to have so many new and intending pilgrims and walkers join us.  Our Camino group offers two optional walks with the standard being the fire trail route from Blackheath to Medlow Bath return, approx 9-10kms, 8 walkers chose to do this route whilst 14 walkers this month ventured a little further to do a 'bushfire fringe walk' to Evans Lookout.

The larger group of 14 set off from Glenella through Blackheath side streets to the start of Braeside Trail passing charred earth and burned tree trunks through the mist and drizzle until we arrived at the T-junction of Evans Lookout Rd.  We continue along heading towards Evans Lookout passing Neates Glen (the westerly start point of the Grand Canyon Loop Track) until we reach Evans Lookout. The walking track to Evans Lookout showed just how close the bush fires came as we walk through burnt landscape.  There was evidence of safety works NPWS had been doing to make walking tracks and trails safe for visitors.  On arrival at Evans Lookout we saw the Grose Valley was a total 'whiteout' with no views to be had but it just means visitors have good reason to make a return visit to do the walk again!  The Clifftop Walk wasn't open to walkers yet so we return to Glenella the same way.  This walk took 3.30hrs and  approx.12 kms return; a good training walk with lots of Camino chatter.

The group of walkers to Medlow Bath along the fire trail which in part is similar to the Camino Frances along the flat dirt.  They enjoyed refreshment break at the Hydro Majestic but the views over Megalong Valley was also a 'whiteout'.  A couple of walkers took the opportunity to return to Blackheath by train.  Always wise to carry your Opal card!  Everybody arrived back in good time to grab some lunch, browse the shops and take in some music in Blackheath village.

 

Camino Meetup - Later we had  20 people join us for the Camino Meetup, several stayed on from the morning walk, some couldn't stay but many others including 'regulars' arrived  for the 2.00pm Meetup. It is great to have many new people learning of the Blue Mountains Camino Supporters group and coming along to gain further information about the Camino. 
The Meetup hosted by Rowan Bouttell; the Camino Candle was lit and after the 'go around' of introductions Kerrie Girdo told us what worked, or didn't, with some items carried in her backpack on her Oct/November 2019 Camino Frances.  There was an active Q&A segment.
At the end of the Camino Meetup, the Camino Candle was blown out, collectively, with thoughts of Pilgrims on the Camino.  A ritual adopted following John Brierley's visit to the Blue Mountains in October 2019.  

Everyone enjoyed a yummy afternoon tea of Santiago tarta baked by Margaret and Kerrie and banana bread by Rowan.  Another enjoyable and informative Camino Meetup in Blackheath. We received some lovely feedback.  Thank you all who came for the morning walk and/or Camino Meetup!  If you would like a specific topic to be addressed, please let us know.

We hope to see you again  in Blackheath for the monthly morning walks and Camino Meetups; remember they are held the last Saturday of the month (except December).

Seeing how close the bush fires came to property and the burnt bush along the trail from the Grand Canyon Loop Carpark to Evans Lookout was sad to see, but there was also a beauty about the charred tree trunks through the mist. Sadly the Jemby-Rinjah Eco Lodge along Evans Lookout Rd sustained some losses, destroyed on the afternoon of NYE 2019.

The Way to St James Cygnet  by Sharise Watson
In the January 2020 newsletter we wrote that Sharise was doing The Way to St James Cygnet pilgrimage 11-12 January 2020.  This was to be part of Sharise's 'Australian Pilgrimage'.  These are excerpts from Sharise's blog for Day 5-6.

I have come to Tasmania to take part in a pilgrimage in the spirit of The Camino.  It is organised by a group of volunteers from the St James Church in Cygnet.    
Day One  It's Saturday morning and I don't have to be at our collection spot until 9.45am.  The first fellow Pilgrim I meet is John from Melbourne, slowly others start to arrive all looking ready and eager for what lays ahead of us.   
Our coach takes us to Mountain River, 34km south of Hobart and the starting point for our 2 day pilgrimage.  As we arrive we can see other pilgrims have already started to gather at the Community Hall.  I collect my pack from the coach, register and collect my lunch to be eaten along the way.  Most importantly I collect my passport, this will be stamped at 4 locations.  

 

“Is this your first time, where are you from, have you done a Camino?.
 
There is a blessing by Father Tate, the instigator and Spiritual Leader of this pilgrimage. We take a scallop shell each, these are the universal symbol of the Camino. We also take a small river stone to carry, the stone will be placed at the foot of an Icon of St James at the end of our pilgrimage.

Day Two had begun. (Sharise had underestimated that it can be cold in Tasmania even in Summer!).

I am feeling shattered, every bit of me hurts and I am tired, I normally get 8 hours sleep so the 1 fitful one I had this morning was just not enough.

On the way in we see the icon of St James that is to be carried by 12 strong pilgrims to the church for the final pilgrim blessing in St James.  A call for volunteers is made and eleven strong men step up, "a lady would be good too" calls the organiser.  Something pushes me forward.....
We take the icon into the church where all th pilgrims have gathered.  We place our stones at the foot of the icon and farewell whatever burdens has been bought along the way.  I notice I am not the only pilgrim returning with tears in their eyes.  Then Father Tate finished the short service by bringing out an incense burner to symbolise the Botafumeiro just as in Spain.

Really pleased to have been part of such a joyous occasion with the fellowship of others and the spirit that you feel when you walk a way with a likeminded group all with the same purpose.  Its been wonderful.

Sharise Watson

You can read Sharise's full blog about her experience on The Way to St James Cygnet  here  

Photos below: The Way to St James Pilgrim Passport, carrying the Icon of St James (spot Sharise if you know her), St James Church Cygnet  

A Little Piece of Ireland  by Kerrie Girdo

In early 2019 I responded to a post on Facebook in the ‘Slow Strollers on the Camino’  group. The post, by an Irish fellow Michael Walsh, was about a new Camino film, ‘The Camino Voyage’.  And it was showing at the Irish Film Festival in Paddington in just a few days.  I had watched the trailer and decided we should go see the film, and it was brilliant!  I messaged Michael, thanking him for having shared his post and telling how much I had enjoyed the film.
Michael and I exchanged a few messages, he telling me that he had been good friends with Danny Sheehy, the instigator of The Camino Voyage, and that he missed his friend very much.  (Danny Sheehy tragically drowned after the filming of The Camino Voyage).  Michael and I became Facebook ‘friends’.

Fast forward to my Camino, November 2019.  I was in Santiago de Compostela in the square in front of the Cathedral trying to take a panorama shot of the whole square, when a man walked into my shot.  He kept walking towards me and all of a sudden I realised it was Michael from Ireland!  He had recognised me too, but had his phone out checking on Facebook, that he had the right person!  It was great to meet in real life.  We went for coffee later in the afternoon and Michael told me all about what he had been doing, where he had been walking.  Michael mentioned that he makes walking staffs back in Ireland and also little Camino stones that he brings to Spain with him to give to the people he connects with.  He regretted that he had already given them all away this trip.

About a week after I got back home, I received a small packet from Ireland in the post. It was one of Michael’s Camino stones!  It was the most precious little gift I have ever received!!   Michael said it was “a little piece of Ireland”.  I’ll treasure it always.
Kerrie Girdo

Ed:  What a beautiful story, thank you for sharing Kerrie. An amazing coincidence for you to both be in the Praza Obradoiro Catedral at the same time let alone to recognise each other.   The Camino provides!  
Readers, if you have stories to share, please email us, we would love to hear and share them!   Thanking you in anticipation.
And if you haven't seen The Camino Voyage, then it is a must see, buy the DVD.  The music is very enjoyable too!

Photos below:  Kerrie's 'little piece of Ireland' and Michael Walsh 

 in JulyMake Your OWN Camino Marker
Weekend Workshop
25-26 July 2020
We now have workshop dates!  Do you fancy the idea of having your own Camino Marker to show how many kilometres from your place?  Les Simons will run a weekend hands-on workshop in the Blue Mountains to make your own in July.  The Camino Maker is based on others he has seen such as the one at Wentworth Falls Pop-up Albergue. Les has made his own (pictured) from Hebel block and a tile brought back from Spain and weighs about 17kgs.   It takes approx 3-4 hours to craft your Marker and another 1-2 hrs the following day to complete the project.  
The weekend Camino Marker Workshop, 25-26 July 2020 will be held in the grounds of Glenella Guesthouse, Blackheath. 
Please Email  to register your interest.  Costs to be determined by number of participants but it's estimated a minimum of $100 per Marker.  
NOTE:  Participants on the Workshop will need to forego the Saturday morning walk.
Who is going on The Camino in 2020?
It is great  to have a few of our supporters ON THE WAY board.  Apologies for not having an updated photo of the Camino On The Way board as several from the January Camino Meetup advised us of their dates.    Drop us a note if you are planning your Camino and which route, we will add you ON THE WAY board at Glenella.   EMAIL US.    Buen Camino
You will find regular updates on Events on our  Facebook Page  and  Website
We also have a Closed Group on Facebook, Blue Mountains Camino Community CLICK HERE to join.    This is where you can post and discuss all things Camino with the Blue Mountains Camino Community.

Y
ou can also  EMAIL US  anytime with any questions or stories you would like to share.  
The Blue Mountains Camino Supporters is a community group, we aim to support those planning to start a Camino and Pilgrims who have returned from their Camino. By coming together regularly we hope to enable & encourage the Camino Spirit here in the Blue Mountains. We hold monthly Camino Meetups held on the last Saturday of the month except December at Glenella Guesthouse in Blackheath, hosted by Margaret & Rowan Bouttell. Prior to the Camino Meetup there is a Saturday morning training walk.  Sharise Watson and Carlene Martin produce this Newsletter and manage the Blue Mountains Camino Supporters Facebook Page. Kerrie Girdo manages our Blue Mountains Camino Community forum on Facebook.  Tony & Ce Jacques co-ordinate and host the Tapas dinners & Camino movie events each year, Jerard & Enda Barry host an annual Feast of Saint James Dinner and also host Pilgrims at their Pop-Up Albergue in Wentworth Falls during our 5-Day Blue Mountains Camino Training Walks. Our website is managed by Mark Johnson and Carlene, assisted by Sharise.  
 
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.

The Blue Mountains Camino Supporters was founded in 2015 by Tony & Ce Jacques and Margaret & Rowan Bouttell.  

The Blue Mountains Camino recognises that Darug and Gundungurra Traditional Owners of the Blue Mountains region. We pay respect to their Elders past and present. 
Camino Links:
The Official Pilgrim Information Site  CLICK HERE
Australian Friends of the Camino      CLICK HERE
Dan Mullins My Camino Podcast      CLICK HERE
Casa Ivar Forum & luggage storage  CLICK HERE

John Brierley October 2019 visit to Blue Mountains presentations
YouTube @ Glenella Guesthouse     CLICK HERE
Podcast part 1 @ RSL Blackheath    CLICK HERE
Podcast part 2 @ RSL Blackheath    CLICK HERE
Podcast part 3 @ RSL Blackheath    CLICK HERE
Podcast Q&A   @ RSL Blackheath    CLICK HERE

 
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