20 May 21

Aussie Camino Walking Pilgrimage

Sam McCrow Australia & NZ

Darren Donlen is RAW’s newest recruit. He’s spent the last couple of months supporting RAW Travellers on guided walks along the Aussie Camino, a little-known but increasingly popular pilgrimage inspired by Australia’s only saint Mary Mackillop and the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

The journey takes modern-day pilgrims from Portland on the far south-western Victorian coast to Penola, 160km away in South Australia, through beautiful ever-changing landscapes. As on the Spanish Camino, you carry a shell – the Camino symbol – and a passport to be stamped at the places you visit.

Like all of us, Darren is relieved and happy to be back out on the trails again, meeting likeminded people and taking photos of coastlines, oceans, rocks and wildlife (check out his stunning images below). 

He’s a tour guide/driver from waaaaay back and is happy anywhere that he can get outdoors. He loves being in nature because it’s where thing are as they should be. Through his job with RAW, he gets to hang out with unique animals and enthusiastic walkers a lot of the time, which he finds very satisfying.

Darren is known for taking the odd bird photo, particularly birds of prey. Last year, in response to the devastating bushfires that killed millions of animals and wiped out large areas of habitat, he donated all the profits from the sales of some of his photos to Wildlife Victoria, who do an amazing job of rehabilitating injured or orphaned animals.

During lockdown, he kept himself sane by delving deeply into his family tree, and creating some incredible collaborative music videos (in a previous life he was in a band).

When he’s not driving RAW Travel’s tour bus and sharing incredible insights about landscapes and wildlife, Darren keeps himself busy exploring Victoria and beyond. Some of his favourite spots include the Grampians (a very special place), Port Campbell and the Bay of Islands (the waves and weather are always different) and the Flinders Ranges. Top of his travel wish list is Western Australia. Darren is based in Geelong, so he’s a regular feature on many of RAW’s other guided walking tours, including the Great South West Walk.

All photos courtesy Darren Donlen.

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