A difficult, but good and necessary Board was held last evening, where we made a philosophical change to our Strategic Plan. It was felt that the big point of difference of the Pilgrims Trail from all other walking trails in Australia is that it does have a Spiritual element: and that isn’t necessarily limited to religious thinking.
So we have decided to promote group walks along the Trail that will entail more orderly use until such time as the infrastructure is there to cope with the more casual walker/camper. This decision was made because of the success of the 3 years of Camino Salvados that have been held with over 120 people now having experienced the trail. The average walker on these event walks has been a woman in her early 60’s: and one who likes to know that she has somewhere to sleep at night!
The other major challenge is now to develop a business plan to help achieve our goals and we are very thankful to Bank West, and to Craig Stevens who has been so helpful with time and ideas.
The final challenge is to get some funding. We were unsuccessful with 2 or our 3 applications to state bodies: we are now looking for a Benefactor” who is inspired by the idea of the Pilgrims Trail to help us bring it to reality. Please let me know if you know that person!!
Follow this link to a recent article in the West Australian Travel Section on the Camino Salvado. This is the event walk from Subiaco that follows the Pilgrim Trail.
Plus a blog from Camino Salvado 2011 “Where’s Mum now?”
Unfortunately we were unsuccessful with our applications to DEC and Royalties for Regions. Although this is unfortunate, it has had the opposite effect in galvanizing us to try harder to get to the next level of funding.
We will succeed.
The feedback from our two event walks has been outstanding and the new northern section of the Trail has made it even better than before.
Please help us to deliver on our desire to make this an Iconic experience for all Australians: this is not our trial – it’s YOUR TRAIL!
Last week the first group of event walkers used the new northern section of the Pilgrim Trail: I can only say that it was a fantastic success. The group were wonderful and enjoyed the stunning scenery with creeks running full, wildflowers just coming into their best, and the fields either a glorious green or buttercup yellow with vast swathes of Canola in bloom.
We received great support from the CAC at Bindoon, Mr & Mrs Kelly, and Callum the farm manager at Mr & Mrs Sadler’s property, as well as the local Shire and businesses at Bindoon itself. The walkers were received with great warmth at New Norcia, which was the spiritual focus for many of those who made it all the way, and many a teary eye was noted as the Abbott graciously received them at the Tomb of Dom Salvado.
That there is still much to be done is made lighter by the fact that each group, with participants form all around Australia, who have experienced the walk take home with them, and to their families and friends, such great memories.
Next Sunday the first Camino Salvado for 2011 will be starting out along the Pilgrim Trail: this will be followed by a second one two weeks later. Walkers have come from around Australia to take part, and there are many who weren’t able to participate because places were limited. Once again, we have had tremendous support and enthusiasm from all those involved and especially from a small Committee who have given countless hours of work and travel to ensure that the experience is a good one.
The trail alignment is exciting and the countryside is looking SPECTACULAR. To add to the excitement, the creeks are full to bursting from the recent rains and there’s talk of having to cut a tree down so that we can ford a flooded stream in full spate!!
Our friends at the Catholic Agricultural College in Bindoon have been amazing in their generosity and we thanks them for all their help and encouragment. Mrs and Mrs Kelly have opened their gates and their hearts to us and we thanks them for their kindness and support.
“Blazing” a trail is hard, slow work, but the fruits of the effort last a lifetime. This story isn’t finished yet, but it’s a wonderful tale that I think will reverberate in the hearts of so many for generations to come!
After a lull of activity, this week has seen a Board Meeting with new members being agreed to, and results from two Grant Applications.
Lotterywest have accepted our follow up application for further work to be carried out on the final alignment and all that entails; but unfortunately, DEC have declined our application for funding, which makes it imperative that we seek alternative funding to progress consolidation of all our hard work.
On a lighter moment: the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, the Hon Tim Fischer, has been in email contact with us following the recent release of a book on Dom Salvado in Rome. Responding to our email, he passed on his delight and congratulations for what we are trying to achieve here in WA with the Pilgrim Trail and the Camino Salvado.
Finally: Maggie and I continued our review of the Trail behind Mrs Kelly’s property – which is excellent – and met up with Callum, the farm manager for Mr & Mrs Sadler, who was very helpful, and kindly allowed us access to the Buffer area at the back of their property. We have been overwhelmed with the hospitality shown us by Kevin and his colleagues at CAC: dear Mr & Mrs Kelly and now Callum: there must be something very special in the water in the Shire of Chittering!!
Well, that’s how its been since I last posted: we’re in that holding pattern before the announcement of the Funding Applications we have put in. Hopefully, we will have some news by the end of July so that we can maintain the momentum. There are now a lot of people who have heard of the Trail and thin that it’s already up and running: it’s frustrating to have to tell them that, yes, the trail is there, but there are no signs, no Web page and no brochures! But we’re patient and confident that all will be well in the end.
Yesterday I met with Barni and Jacqui at Bindoon who are doing great things to promote their area – the Northern Valleys Region. The Pilgrim Trail will pass through this region in its last 50kms and it is so good to know that there is such a level of enthusiastic support in the community.
We also met with an informal group in the Education Department to “throw around” ideas as to how the Pilgrim Trail could feature in school curricula: this was a very productive discussion and one that we will pursue once the Trail is more formally established.
After the final flurry of intense activity, we submitted Grant applications to Lotterywest, DEC and Royalties for Regions: we are also hoping to make presentations to Bank West and Bauxite Resources for foundation sponsorships. We will naturally be seeking funding from any appropriate source and would welcome your feedback and advice on any such approaches.
In the meantime, whilst attending my fathers 90th birthday celebrations in Vienna, Maggie and I took the opportunity of a gentle cycle ride from Prague back to Vienna: but it didn’t quite turn out as we expected!! Mountain biking in remote Moravia has its charms, but for a couple of grandparents, it also had some incredible challenges! But we survived and in retrospect we are so happy we took up the challenge: it also highlighted the fact that if you have a Trail, then you need to set it up well, provide precise information about it and provide signage/maps/GPS that are current and accurate. It has shown me that although our progress towards a permanent trail can sometimes appear to be glacial, we are in fact trying to achieve Best Practice and create the best possible Trail for all users, and this takes time.
I’ve just listened to Michael Parkinson giving an Australia Day talk on the ABC, and what he said re-enforced in me what a truly astonishing country we live in! On one level we seem to be waiting for things to “get better”, and yet this small country has made astonishing strides since settlement began in the eighteenth century: just imaging what the next 200 years will bring! Here in WA we have wide blue skies, the freshest of air, the awesome ocean; the stark, harsh beauty of the bush and endless resources fueling a booming economy. We have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to: we should be jumping up and down for joy to be here in this great State.
In 200 years time, there will be towns and villages leading up to New Norcia along the Pilgrims Trail. There will be cafes and restaurants, pubs and comfy B&Bs for the weary travelers: and there will be thousands of Pilgrims using the Pilgrims Trail. Why? Because one thing that seems innate in our humanity is the desire to seek a connection with the sacred and the spiritual, and the Pilgrims Trail gives walkers that opportunity to take time out and review, renew and reconnect with their inner self.
So this Australia Day: dare to be excited about, and for, our wonderful country. Write down your dreams: make that your first step towards making them a reality. I hope that helping bring the Pilgrims Trail to completion will be on your list: its definitely on mine!
HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY
New Year: New hope: New challenges. Welcome to 2011.
Next week we have the first Board meeting for the Foundation for the year and we will look at the draft Management Plan that Colin Ingram has produced. We will also be looking to increase the size of the Board to broaden the skills base we need so that we can create a world class Trail.
Then its “hitting the road”. Colin and I will be meeting again with all the relevant Cities, Shires, Government Departments and land holders to gain their support for the next stage, which should bring us close to finalization.
Its going to be a busy time and we will appreciate all the support that you can give us. Any suggestions or inspirations that you may have will also be gratefully received.
To all our supporters, their families and friends, may you have a wonderful, exciting and adventurous New Year.