The envisaged MacKillop Woods Way has been planned to traverse the south eastern corner of the Australian continent via locations which have a significant historical and cultural importance to the lives and work of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop and the pioneering priest Fr Julian Tenison Woods. The route shown will be a viable way for both walkers and cyclist to make their pilgrimage mostly along minor roads, established rail trails and walking paths without the needs for a purpose built way to be constructed from scratch. The MacKillop Woods Way has now been endorsement by the Congregational Leadership Team at the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart based in North Sydney, as well as some given Catholic Diocese. In its early years of development there has been great enthusiasm from local communities and a willingness to embrace this ambitious pilgrims' way.
From early April to late June in 2015 I embarked on an ambitious pilgrimage halfway across Europe – it taking in the recently established Ignatius Way which runs from the birthplace of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Basque Country to Manresa in Catalonia. This predominantly walking pilgrimage in its entirety covered some 1115 km on foot along Spain's - Camino Francés, Camino del Ebro and Camí de Sant Jaume, as well as France’s - Chemin des Piémont, Chemin des d’Arles and Via Domitia before crossing the Col de Montgenévre en route to Turin along a branch of the Via Francigena. As it is clear this journey was not towards Santiago as such, but instead took into account my long term goals into eventually reaching Jerusalem and to an extent this peregrination was closely following in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius -founder of the Jesuit Order.
The first official pilgrims to walk the Aussie Camino (route incorporated into the MacKillop Woods Way) was lead by Luke Mills (center front) assembled for a group photo at the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre in East Melbourne on 5th April 2014. Here we had a special pilgrim mass, were given our own scallop shell in the spirit of the Way of Saint James, a guidebook and pilgrims' credential prepared by Luke Mills and myself as a memento and record of one's pilgrimage (see below)
Into the void I went...My preliminary Australian camino bicycle tour took me 1700 km from Port Augusta SA to Ballan Victoria in search of a suitable Way for bicyclists to take when concerning historical links to the life and work of Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods. I chose sections of the long distance Mawson bicycle trail as a potential route for the MacKillop - Woods Way.
In 2002 I got on my bike and cycled from my home town of
Melbourne to , crossing the Australian Outback in 90 days. I was preparing for an ambitious bicycle tour which would take me from North Cape in Darwin Norway to Cape Town in . As things turned out, I landed a job in South Africa teaching English, and after completing my work there in mid-2004, I needed a real holiday. I decided to travel, using various modes of transport, across Siberia and southern Europe to South Korea . There I began a 750km winter walk on the Camino de Santiago, starting at Saint- Jean-Pied-de-Port. Gradually I decided that one day I would undertake a more challenging pilgrimage, by bicycle. Spain