The Australian Friends of the Camino Inc. was founded in 2011 to promote the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Since then membership has been growing strongly and in May 2017 we welcomed the 1000th member to join us.
The mission of the Australian Friends of the Camino is to:
- promote an awareness of the Camino de Santiago to Australians;
- to assist and encourage those interested in the pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain;
- to cooperate with similar groups in Spain, France and elsewhere and where possible to join in refurbishing and maintaining facilities to be used for or by pilgrims along the Camino.
Membership of the Australian Friends of the Camino provides the following benefits:
- An interesting and informative quarterly newsletter.
View past copies of the newsletter, the Camino Chronicle. Each issue is full of great articles written by members, and other valuable information forwarded from a variety of sources.
- Upon request, a credencial (pilgrim passport) is provided, free of charge, to members when they are planning their Camino.
(We are the only organisation in Australia approved by the Camino authorities in Spain to issue Australian credencials. These credencials are recognised by the Pilgrim Office in Santiago de Compostela.)
- Because we issue credencials, we have a good knowledge of where Australians are departing from on their Camino, and, for the “roads less travelled’, we are able to help with information and advice relevant to the Australian traveller.
- As an organisation we receive a range of advertising material from service providers along the Camino routes. We sift through this, summarise it, and then issue it to our members in the form of an email newsletter.
- Last, but certainly not least, membership of the Australian Friends of the Camino provides the opportunity to meet other Australian pilgrims, share stories and experiences, and enjoy the wonderful spirit of the Camino.
The Australian Friends of the Camino committee is a group of people with diverse interests and, between them, much Camino experience. As with any organisation there are a number of official roles. The committee is led by the Chairman, supported by a Secretary, a Membership Secretary, Treasurer, a Public Officer, a Newsletter Editor, a Web manager, and a number of committee members.
Janet began her pilgrimage ‘journey’ in 2004 when she heard a radio interview about the Camino de Santiago and immediately felt its pull. That initial interview has led to many pilgrimages unfolding for Janet, culminating in a year-long pilgrimage in 2014/2015.
Margaret remembers well the fun and friendship, language and learning, of the Camino Frances which she walked in 2012. She has walked other long-distance trails and enjoys regular bush-walking, but nothing compares with the Camino experience. The Camino keeps calling, which is why Margaret joined the Committee of the Australian Friends of the Camino in 2016, and plans to walk another Camino somewhere, some time.
The idea of walking a Camino was cemented as a definite goal after seeing the movie ‘The Way’. After joining the Australian Friends of the Camino, I walked the Camino Frances with my wife, Zorka, in 2014 from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, coinciding with the 800th anniversary of St Francis of Assisi’s pilgrimage to Santiago de Compestela.
Alan has walked several long trails in Australia and overseas since he took up trail walking on his retirement from the University of South Australia in 2005. He counts his experience of three Caminos (Via de la Plata, Camino del Norte and Camino Portuguese) as among the most interesting and fulfilling, as well providing the opportunity to refresh and use his Spanish learnt at school over 55 years ago.
Before being introduced to the Camino de Santiago, Kevin had thought that multi-day hiking was an activity of his past. However, reading and talking with others about the Camino convinced him that he was not too old to attempt it! In 2009, Kevin and his wife walked from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela, taking 40 days on the Camino Frances. Like many other pilgrims, he has been drawn back many times.
Hola! I love being editor of the Camino Chronicle as it keeps me in touch constantly with Camino stories and news. In 2010 I walked the first and last weeks (250k) of the Camino Francės, and in 2015 the middle section from Estella (including the Meseta), as well as the Camino Invierno (Ponferrada to SdC). It was the best adventure I have ever had. In my other life I am a librarian turned archivist, and enjoy tennis and cycling… as well as my children and grandchildren.
Begonia was born in Spain and has been living in Australia for over 40 years. Her interest in walking began at age 40 when she visited the snowy mountains in her father’s lands. She has since become a passionate bushwalker and has walked the Portuguese Camino in 2004 and the French Camino in 2009. Begonia became involved in the development of the Australian Friends of the Camino and has been a committee member since. She plans to walk another Camino soon.
In 2015, with my wife Genevieve, we travelled on the StIgantius pilgrimage from Loyola to Barcelona. In this photo I am on a lean. I didn't realise at the time, but I had an ulcer in my leg.
History of AFotC
The Australian Friends of the Camino was formed on St James Day in the Holy Year of 2010, when a group of Camino enthusiasts met at St James Church at Mile End in Adelaide, to talk about their Camino experiences. From this inaugural gathering it was resolved that we would form an Amigos Association. A number of people volunteered to serve on the Committee to facilitate this process.
The Committee liaised with pilgrim associations in other parts of the world, particularly the pilgrim authorities in Spain, developed a constitution, and designed and received approval to issue credencials. The first public meeting was held on April 3rd, 2011 with Dee Nolan, author of the then recently published A Food Lover’s Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, as guest speaker at this event.
From its small beginning, the Australian Friends of the Camino has continued to grow and now has members in all States. We support Groups that meet around Australia by publicising their meeting dates and venues in the Camino Chronicle newsletter. We continue to issue credenicals free of charge to members, along with a quarterly newsletter and other general information relevant to pilgrims.
Pilgrim Groups Around Australia
There are many pilgrim groups around Australia where you can get your Camino ‘fix’ and catch up with other pilgrims past, present and future.
Adelaide, South Australia
The SA group meets regularly. In this 2017 year meetings are being held at the Box Factory in Adelaide, on either Saturday or Sunday afternoons.
Blue Mountains, New South Wales
This group meets the last Friday in most months for a Pilgrim's Dinner. On the Saturday a 12-14 km training walk.
A Facebook group has been established by Susan Morris from WA.
'Camino Conversations' is a space where people can come together to share their love of long distance walking; meet other like minded souls; share stories and experience ... and maybe be inspired to start planning that next walk!
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Meets monthly on the third Saturday of the month at 3pm at the Spanish Australian Club of Canberra.
Offers a monthly social gathering on the last Friday of each month to fellow pilgrims who have walked the Camino or for others who wish to walk the Camino in the near future.
Meets on the last Friday of each month.
Sydney, New South Wales
An informal support group for Camino pilgrims. Our group meets monthly and aims to provide a vehicle for support and planning of pilgrimages.
The Sunshine Coast group meets quarterly at Mudjimba.
Perth, Western Australia
Meets on an informal basis at Botanicals Café in Kings Park.
English Language Amigos Groups
There are a number of related English language amigo groups around the world.
The Confraternity of St James (CSJ)
This is the UK, and first English speaking, based Amigos Group, founded in 1983.
The Confraternity St James of South Africa (CSJofSA)
Founded in 2006 this South African Amigos Group is based in Cape Town.
The Camino Society Ireland
The Irish group is one of the older Amigos Groups, founded in 1992.
American Pilgrims on the Camino
The American groups has numerous chapters that meet throughout the country (in excess of 36).
Canadian Company of Pilgrims
The Canadian Company, founded in 1994, has a number of chapters across the country.
Our Rules of Association was adopted at the General Meeting on 28th February 2011.