Lyn­don Phipps

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Lyn­don re­cently re­turned from walk­ing the 1000-kilo­me­tre Camino de San­ti­ago through Spain. He ex­plains what in­spired him to take on such a big phys­i­cal and men­tal chal­lenge.

Camino de San­ti­ago is a pil­grim­age.

I did the Francés which starts in St. Jean Pied de Port which is on the French side of the Pyre­nees and you walk all the way across the top of North­ern Spain to San­ti­ago de Com­postela, and I then did another Camino from San­ti­ago to a place called Morchia which I walked back­wards. To pre­pare, I did lots of read­ing and trawl­ing the in­ter­net to read sto­ries from peo­ple who have talked about it and done it be­fore. I watched Youtube videos on how to pack, there’s heaps of in­for­ma­tion and fo­rums on­line. I talked to peo­ple who have done it, espe­cially for the emo­tional and spir­i­tual side of the jour­ney.

Five years ago, was (my wife Ker­rie and my) 20th wed­ding an­niver­sary and we were stay­ing at a friend’s place and watched a DVD called ‘The Way’. It was my first en­counter with the Comino, which means “the way”, and I thought “that would be cool to do one day”, but I didn’t do any­thing about it.

A cou­ple of months later I thought “no I re­ally need to go” to clear my head, find my­self and work out who I re­ally am. So, five years later I was in Spain in a re­ally small town in an al­bergo that wasn’t even listed on the rec­om­mended al­ber­gos to stay at and there was no Wi-fi and no­body with English-speak­ing back­ground. I couldn’t even call my wife. But it was good fun!

The walk is of­fi­cially 731km,

but I did all the side trails and I walked all the way through the coast, so with all the ex­tra bits I would have done over 1000km – which took 44 days.

The chal­lenges in­cluded what to keep and what things to leave be­hind! I went with my son’s sleep­ing bag, but that was 1.35kg I did not want to keep car­ry­ing.

I didn’t re­ally feel like there were any great chal­lenges, but I sup­pose there were days it was hard go­ing be­cause you couldn’t get ac­com­mo­da­tion any­where and you had to keep walk­ing.

Get­ting over the first two days of the pyrenes was hard. I prac­tised walk­ing

but noth­ing in the War­rum­bun­gles or any­where else in Aus­tralia could pre­pare me for the pyrenes. It was amaz­ingly beau­ti­ful (with) in­cred­i­ble views! It was like walk­ing through a fairy tale!

I was born in Aus­tralia and English is my na­tive tongue. (Dur­ing the walk) I’d

of­ten sit down and have seven or eight peo­ple at a ta­ble for din­ner, and most of them could speak English as their se­cond lan­guage, but if they didn’t there was of­ten some­one who could trans­late. There were two nights where English was the mi­nor­ity lan­guage and it was a re­ally good ex­pe­ri­ence for me to have, and not have the priv­i­lege of hav­ing my na­tive lan­guage be­ing the one ev­ery­one thinks they should speak. It was an un­usual ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing in that un­com­fort­able sit­u­a­tion where they had to take them­selves out of the con­ver­sa­tion to trans­late for me.

Be­ing mar­ried to Ker­rie, life is an ad­ven­ture, but I just did an ad­ven­ture on

my own and she en­cour­aged me to do that. She’s al­ways out there and she’s a bit of an in­spi­ra­tion. It was time for me to get out and do some­thing.

The Camino de San­ti­ago is an ex­pe­ri­ence of a lifetime. If you want to meet

the world but you don’t want to travel it, walk the Camino be­cause there’s peo­ple from ev­ery­where. So many dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties and re­li­gions, peo­ple from all walks of life. Some Chris­tian, Catholic, Bud­dhist, Hindu, ag­nos­tic, athe­ist – and it was just great! Ev­ery­one was a pil­grim so we’re all broth­ers and sis­ters, it didn’t mat­ter what you be­lieved or thought, you were fam­ily even if I couldn’t un­der­stand what they were say­ing!

- In­ter­view and main photo by Sophia Rouse

Lyn­don Phipps back home. PHOTO: DUBBO PHOTO NEWS/SOPHIA ROUSE In­set: Lyn­don on his ad­ven­ture through Spain. PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

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