Former Walcha resident Doug McPhillips walked the Camino de Santiago

PILGRIM TRAIL: Doug McPhillips has walked the 800 km from southern France to Santiago de Compostela three times.
PILGRIM TRAIL: Doug McPhillips has walked the 800 km from southern France to Santiago de Compostela three times.

Adventurer and former Walcha resident Doug McPhillips recently launched writings and music inspired by the Camino de Santiago, the Catholic pilgrimage route from southern France to Spain.

Doug was the Walcha newsagent from 1980 to 1987, and managed AMP in Tamworth and Inverell for many years.

He has walked the 800 km trail from St Jean de Pied Port in the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela three times.

“There’s something about that walk that draws you back,” Doug said. “It inspires creativity.”

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In his case, the pilgrimage led to two novels, The Sword of Discernment and Santiago Traveller, mixing autobiography with myth and symbolism; a book of poetry, From Darkness to Light; and two albums of songs, launched in Port Macquarie on December 8.  Some of these songs have a Walcha connection to his family.

Doug calls the Camino “a real journey of awakening and enlightenment”.

He walked the Camino for the first time in 2013. At the time, he said, he was suffering anxiety and depression, having gone through personal tragedy. His reason for walking the trail was to let go of his emotional baggage.

“What seems important in our three-dimensional world doesn't seem important when you’re walking the Camino,” Doug said.

“It’s just what’s on your back; what you’re carrying in your knapsack. You’re living on the lam a bit. There’s a sense of freedom that you don’t normally strike in the modern world.”

His game plan now is to encourage people to use the Camino as a catalyst.

It can be beneficial for people looking for a new direction, whose lives have changed, are looking for spiritual connection – or who just want to take the long walk.

“I’m not necessarily suggesting people do the actual Camino de Santiago, but to step out there and do something different, to think about where they’re at, and how their life is.”

Doug lives in Sydney, but intends to move back to Port Macquarie by the end of the year.

He expects to be in Tamworth and the region in February / March. He also has plans for more books and music inspired by the Camino.

His books and CDs are available from the Walcha Newsagency, and Collins bookshops in Tamworth and Armidale.

For more information, visit his website: http://caminoway.com.au/