Today‘s pilgrim traveller considering the direct road to Penola, along the modern highway, would find it a great challenge unless going all the way by car. However a more calm and relaxed route has been chosen for those who wish to make a more authentic pilgrimage by foot. For the first few days the camino follows the Great South West Walk (GSWW) and then afterwards numerous farm tracks, goat trails, minor roads and even abandoned railway lines.
Nonetheless making the pilgrimage by foot to Penola and first from Portland is not without its own challenges as the distances are great and facilities few and far between. Unless one is to either travel in a small group with perhaps a support vehicle provided, the long road / path from Portland to Nelson alone is very strenuous as the GSWW was initially set aside as a general multiday trekking route. It would realistically entail carrying all one‘s own camping equipment, food etc as the cumulative distance between Portland and Nelson totals some 111 km. With more time and more importantly, with more pilgrims the amenity along the Aussie Camino will no doubt improve.
However the way once beyond Nelson en route to Penola and via Port Macdonnell, Mount Gambier and Kalangadoo is much better suited for walking and takes one mostly along quiet country roads with sparse, but adequate facilities along the way such as hotel or caravan park accommodation, as well as a few cafes and general stores each day. Portland and Mount Gambier are regional cities and provide a full range of accommodation to suit all budgets. Importantly Penola is the principal town for the internationally renowned Coonawarra wine producing region and has a good selection of cafes and restaurants, as well as accommodation.
At this point in its very early stages of development the Aussie Camino lacks any pilgrim style hostel accommodation familiar to those who have taken the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Although the GSWW is well signposted once beyond Nelson there are no way markers provided, but it is anticipated that the ubiquitous yellow arrow of the camino in Europe will be some day provided for the DIY pilgrim traveller along this way. However as you the reader have decided to make this challenge you will indeed be following a genuine pilgrimage, visiting the locations historically significant and made important in the daily life of those two Australian pioneers Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods.
Although many pilgrims in caminos around the world make markings and arrows to show the way to those that follow, we ask that you be respectful of private property and not mark trees or fence posts without permission. The guide book shows a clear path in which can be followed quite easily.