By Caroline Smith
When a group of 24 pilgrims took part in the Camino Salvado Pilgrimage from Subiaco to New Norcia last week, they took with them a valuable resource: a booklet reflecting on the life of Benedictine Bishop Rosendo Salvado, after whom the Camino is named.
Bishop Salvado was born in Spain but moved to Australia in 1846, where he travelled from Perth to New Norcia later that year, establishing the latter as a Benedictine mission along with Father Joseph Serra.
The booklet – which contains maps and excerpts from the Bishop’s diary – was produced by Subiaco Parish, St Joseph’s Church, which organises two pilgrimages every year since 2009. The booklet is given free of charge to all pilgrims who join the Camino.
This year, pilgrims made the journey in a group of 12 from 20-27 August, and a group of 24 from 3-10 September.
Chris Oakeley, who provided the text, photographs and cover image for the booklet, is one of several pilgrims who has walked the Camino in the past, and said good company and the natural beauty of the walk made it a great experience.
“First of all, the people who attend the walk are really good company, and that’s important, because you spend eight days together,” he said. ”You make wonderful new friends from all sorts of backgrounds and life experiences.”
“It’s also beautiful to walk along the trail at this time of year, when all the flowers, including quantities of different orchids, are out on the tracks along the Swan River and through the Walyunga National Park and the Julimar Forest to New Norcia.”
He added that the new booklet provided pilgrims with the opportunity to reflect on Bishop Salvado’s journey as part of their own Camino experience.
“It’s based on his memoirs and contains notes on things he discovered along the way. As pilgrims go along, they can mark off all the things they’ve seen,” Mr Oakeley said.
“The final part of the journey to New Norcia is amazing: the bells ring when you walk into the monastery, and some of the brothers will wash the feet of some of the pilgrims. Later we join them for vespers with Gregorian chants and Eucharist in the chapel.”
Graeme Wishart, who is one of the Camino organisers at Subiaco Parish, said the idea for a booklet grew out of a need to compile all the information needed by pilgrims into one resource.
“When we added up the cost of maps, the passport of daily stamps, the health and emergency details, and the book about the Camino from the Pilgrim Trail Foundation, we calculated we could write our own guide book for 20 percent of that and have a better product,” he said.
“Instead of having lots of different pieces of paper, a book would hold everything in one place and be properly organised day-by-day, every day. It seemed nice to have a memento of the pilgrimage for pilgrims to keep, with pages at the back to put down thoughts and notes, and telephone numbers.”
Mr Wishart said the booklet’s inclusion of information from Bishop Salvado’s memoirs gave an insight into his original journey to New Norcia, which pilgrims often asked about.
“Many people on the September pilgrimage kept asking for more information, so I think everyone read the excerpts from the memoirs in the booklet,” he said.
“Many wanted to know where the exact route was that Salvado walked, but that is not known as he walked many routes, initially via Bolgart, then at times via Toodyay, later via Old Plains Road and later still via Bindoon and the Great Northern Highway.
“We had a descendant of one of the original monk’s family on the August walk and two generations of one of the farming families that worked with Salvado on the September walk and lived at New Norcia until a few years ago.”
He added that the booklet contained maps from previous Caminos, as well as new ones provided by Janet Hoskins from MapWise in North Fremantle and John Bell, along with safety information from the Perth Bush Walking Club.
Information from Bishop Salvado’s memoirs was provided by Geraldine Byrne, who was an editor of the booklet, along with Julie and Nigel Harris-Jones.
In New Norcia, pilgrims stay at St Ildephonsus College or the Old Convent. The food and accommodation there and during the Camino is all provided for, and they have a support bus bringing them from the trail to overnight accommodation each evening.
Those who are interested in walking the Camino from Subiaco to New Norcia can find out more at: www.caminosalvado.com and register for 2018 or look at the website of The Pilgrim Trail Foundation www.thepilgrimtrail.com.au, a not-for-profit organisation set up to ensure the maintenance of the trail.