A Tale of Two Pilgrims
“PILGRIMAGE: a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life.”
Travel restrictions have been in place for over six months now and, two weeks ago, I felt a deep desire to connect with nature.
I'd been following the Adventurous Women trips on Facebook over the past few months and had found them uplifting to my soul.
I was grateful to participate in a special AW campout on the winter solstice this year; in the middle of an orange orchard! We had magic weather, beautiful scenery and even better company.
In early September, I watched with envy as tour leader, Sue O'Connor, took a group of adventurous (and fit!) women on the Cape to Cape Walk in the south-west of WA. I was amazed at the scenery, stamina and the bonding that was obvious between the women in the group.
Knowing my fitness level wasn't up to such a feat, but being inspired by their adventures, I decided to venture out on my own and take myself on a 5-day pilgrimage, driving through wildflower country in the mid-west of WA.
I drove to Mullewa and was fortunate enough to find the wreath flowers. I had timed my visit perfectly, as it turns out. Two weeks earlier there were none of these miraculous beauties in flower.
I journeyed south slowly from Mullewa and my soul was nourished by the abundant array of wildflowers I discovered lining the roads and small towns I visited.
on the side of the road in Western Australia
As I arrived in the monastic town of New Norcia on the second last day of my wildflower adventure, I noticed a Facebook post that announced the penultimate day of Adventurous Women's Camino Salvado Pilgrims.
A group of extremely adventurous women (in my opinion!) were following in the footsteps of Dom Rosendo Salvado, by walking every step of his pilgrimage from St Joseph's Church in Subiaco, covering over 180km, to New Norcia.
Could this be divine timing? Would we be in the same place at the same time?
I soon realised, however, that their arrival in the afternoon would be about 3 hours after my departure. What a shame, I thought, but not meant to be.
Upon leaving New Norcia, I was compelled to make one last detour down a gravel road before taking the busy Great Northern Highway back to Perth. With keen eyes scanning the roadside for bright coloured flowers, I stumbled across a mass of orange. Not flowers, but people. Actually, Adventurous Women!
These courageous women had walked every day for the past eight days, through hills and valleys, down gravel roads and busy highways, through farmland and wondrous nature. Their feet may have been bandaged, their muscles may have been screaming at them to stop, but they broke through their pain to experience their own incredible transformations.
I was so blessed to chat to them while they shared their last meal on the road, to hear their stories and to feel their strength and humility.
We would soon be returning to our daily lives, but this brief, synchronistic moment in time reminded us all of how special we are, how connected we are and how truly grateful we are to call Australia home…
Julie was bitten by the travel bug in her 20s and the more places she visits, the more she wants to explore the world. In 2015 she took a break from full-time work to focus on travel, writing and adventures.https://renovatingmadeeasy.com.au