Australian pilgrims don’t have to travel to Spain to walk a Camino. The Australian Camino, known as the Camino Salvado commences at St Joseph’s Church in Subiaco, Perth and finishes at the Benedictine Monastery in New Norcia some 130 kilometres away. New Norcia is Australia’s only monastic town and was established by the Benedictines in 1846. The order still own and operate the town today. The Camino Salvado is named after a Spanish Priest and later Bishop, Dom Rosendo Salvado who travelled from the monastery of Samos (on the route of the Camino Frances in Spain) to Perth with the aim of establishing a Benedictine presence. Dom Salvado often walked between Perth and the site of a proposed monastery at New Norcia and the Camino Salvado follows the route thought to have been taken by the priest. The monastery is now well established and is a thriving operation.
The pilgrimage is usually completed in five days of walking and accommodation enroute is in religious guesthouses,on a farm, in the New Norcia Monastery guesthouse or in the monks’ rather grand looking tourist hotel. And even though the Aussie pilgrimage is some 700 kilometres shorter than the Spanish route the blisters, aching legs, camaraderie and the personal and spiritual rewards are still the same.
New Norcia has been carefully designed to resemble a Spanish village with the local church taking pride of place. There are cafes, a bakery, museum, art gallery, hotel and a gift-shop. The monks lead guided tours of the town twice daily. Be sure to indulge in some of the delicious monk-made Dom Salvado Pan Chocoletti and New Norcia Nut Cake. The monks also produce beer, port wine and olive oil.
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Buen Camino!