Walking up to 800km along the top of Spain seems a crazy thing to do but more than 3,500 Australians did just that in 2017. And the numbers increase every year.
To celebrate this craziness, the AusCamino Festival was held in 2017. It was such a success it’s going to be held again in Blackheath this weekend.
For Glenella Guesthouse owners and Camino aficionados, Margaret and Rowan Boutell, the increasing interest by Australians was the motivation to organise Australia’s first camino festival.
“We cycled the Camino Frances in northern Spain in 2013 and walked parts of the Del Norte and Primitivo routes in 2016. We wanted to bring back some of the Camino spirit to our community,” said Mrs Boutell.
“When we ran the first AusCamino last year we were amazed that nearly 250 people attended over the four days. Forty-one per cent of the attendees were Blue Mountains locals, 43 per cent were from Sydney and NSW and the rest, 16 per cent, were from outside NSW, which really surprised us,” she said.
This year’s festival will be held from February 22-25. The main focus is Saturday with free information sessions and workshops on offer all day. For those who are curious as to what the Camino is all about don’t miss the noon workshop, ‘Camino for Newbies’, run by Julie-Ann Milne from the Pilgrims in Sydney group.
Two further workshops on offer are ‘Packing light for the Camino’ (11am) and ‘Walking with Ease’ (10am).
A fantastic line of speakers will share their Camino experiences and advice on Saturday afternoon (2pm-5pm) at the Blackheath Uniting Church on Govetts Leap Road. Entry is free.
The highlight of the festival is the paella, Camino trivia and story slam on Saturday evening at Glenella. Enjoy a freshly cooked paella, share your knowledge (or not) in the trivia, then sit back and be entertained by short Camino stories. From 6pm, cost is $20.
For those keen on stretching their legs, a two-day Camino-style walk from Woodford to Blackheath is offered on Thursday and Friday. Overnighting is at Wentworth Falls in pilgrim style accommodation.
Sunday will start off with a dawn pilgrims blessing at Govetts Leap lookout. Thereafter there is opportunity to attend one of the local church services or head off on a self-guided walk. At 11am there is an excursion to the Blue Labyrinth in Woodford where visitors can walk three different labyrinths and hear Donna Mulhearn share her pilgrim experiences.
For more information about the 2018 AusCamino Festival including the full schedule, bookings and tickets, go to www.auscamino.com.au.