Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is it called the ‘Epiphany Pilgrimage’?
In Australia, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord is celebrated on the first Sunday after New Years Day. The feast celebrates the visitation of the Magi to the infant Jesus. The Epiphany Pilgrimage takes place from January 2 through to January 8 each year to coincide with this feast day.
2. When did the Epiphany Pilgrimage first start?
The first Epiphany Pilgrimage took place in January 2016.
3. How long is the pilgrimage walk?
The pilgrimage route has been called the Way of the Magi – beginning at Our Lady of the Way, Emu Plains and ending at The Chapel of the Magi, Bell. The route is currently 106 km in length and takes 7 days to complete. As the pilgrimage continues to evolve over the coming years and work is carried out to improve some of the more remote bush tracks, the route used to walk between the parishes may change and the length of the pilgrimage may vary slightly.
4. How many people are walking the full pilgrimage in 2018?
The Epiphany Pilgrimage will be open to 30 pilgrims for the full 7 days of walking. At this stage there will not be a limit placed on the number of pilgrims joining the group for shorter periods of walking during the pilgrimage.
5. How long is the longest day of walking?
The walk from St Thomas Aquinas Parish, Springwood to Our Lady of the Nativity Parish, Lawson is 21.5km in length. Pilgrims set out at 7.45am and reach their destination at 4.00pm.
6. How fit do I need to be to do the pilgrimage?
Pilgrims need to be in good health and of moderate fitness to complete the pilgrimage. Whilst reasonable precautions are taken to ensure the safety and well-being of participants, all pilgrims participate at their own risk.
7. How old do I need to be / can I be to participate in the pilgrimage?
There is no upper age limit to the pilgrimage, however, all walkers need to be in good health and of moderate fitness. Pilgrims under 18 years of age are welcome for day walks when accompanied by a parent or guardian but are not permitted to stay overnight. Children under the age of 12 years of age may not be permitted to participate in day walks but are welcome to join the pilgrims at the parishes when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Please contact us to discuss individual cases.
8. What comes in the pilgrim pack?
The pilgrim pack includes an itinerary, journal, pilgrim passport, prayer cards, Rosary beads, bandana and pen.
9. What do I need to bring?
A ‘What to bring’ document will be distributed after registration and includes a comprehensive list of items.
10. What is the significance of the stones?
Each pilgrim is asked to select and carry a stone throughout the pilgrimage. The stone represents the pilgrim and, like the Magi, is the offering that they bring to the Christ child. At the end of the pilgrimage, the stones are places together in gabion cages to form the building blocks of a pilgrimage chapel – the Chapel of the Magi. In this way, the chapel is a manifestation of the Church built of living stones (see 1 Peter 2: 5) with Christ as the cornerstone.
11. What do I get for completing the full pilgrimage?
Whilst completing the full pilgrimage is certainly an accomplishment, the Epiphany Pilgrimage is less about what ‘we get’ and more about what ‘we give’. Like the Magi, who offered gifts to the Christ child, we are encouraged to make an offering of our own lives to Jesus. This is most significantly represented in the laying of the stones to form the Chapel of the Magi at Bell. All those who complete the full Epiphany Pilgrimage (or who walk the Way of the Magi at another time during the year) have their names etched into a timber post located at the Chapel of the Magi as a record of their participation.
12. Where is the Chapel of the Magi?
The Chapel of the Magi is located in Bell at 19 Nioka Place.
13. How religious do I have to be to participate in the pilgrimage?
Anybody is welcome to participate in the pilgrimage irrespective of their faith and beliefs. The pilgrimage is, however, a Christian journey, punctuated by daily experiences of Christian fellowship, prayer, talks and daily Mass.
14. What can I expect each day to be like?
The general structure of each pilgrimage day is as follows:
- Breakfast and pack up
- Rest and relaxation time (depending on the day)
- Evening of prayer, praise, talk and Adoration
- Dinner and fellowship
15. Where do we walk?
Where possible, the Way of the Magi follows bush walking tracks and fire trails through the Blue Mountains. At times, there are small amounts of road walking around the parishes or to link different bush tracks and trails.
16. What happens if I get sick or injured
If a pilgrim is feeling unwell or injured and unable to begin a day of walking, then alternative arrangements can be made to transport them to the next parish. If a pilgrim becomes unwell or is injured during a walk, then the individual circumstance is assessed including the severity of the illness or injury and appropriate actions taken. The pilgrimage group is never more than a short walk from a vehicle access point.
17. What does the cost cover?
The pilgrimage costs cover food, accommodation, the pilgrim pack and some administration. The pilgrimage is a not-for-profit initiative.
18. Where do we start?
The pilgrimage begins at Our Lady of the Way Parish: 15 Troy Street, Emu Plains.
19. How do I get to the starting point?
Pilgrims need to organise their own transport to Our Lady of the Way Parish. Emu Plains train station is a 2.1 km walk (30 minutes) from the parish.
20. Where do we end?
The pilgrimage ends at The Chapel of the Magi: 19 Nioka Place, Bell.
21. How do I get home / back to my car at the end of the pilgrimage?
Pilgrims need to organise their own transport from The Chapel of the Magi. Bell train station is a 650 m walk (8 minutes) from the chapel. Trains depart from Bell every 2 hours.
22. Can I still invite my friends and family along for a day if they haven’t registered?
Registration is important to assist us with planning and so wherever possible, we would like pilgrims to register on the website. If friends or family have not registered and want to come along for a day or two then they can still do so. Please advise the pilgrimage organisers by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (0423 257 580 / 0478 637 052) as soon as you know that this will be the case. They will need to complete a registration form (these will be available each morning at the parishes) and be fully self catered.
23. How much will I need to carry when I walk?
All pilgrims need to carry a day pack which includes water (up to 5 L), food, warm clothes, wet weather gear, a small first aid kit and various other small items. Pilgrims are not required to carry their overnight gear – these are transported by vehicle between parishes.
24. Where will we be sleeping?
Pilgrims sleep on the floor in parish halls and at a local school in Wentworth Falls. All pilgrims need to provide their own sleeping mat, sleeping bag and pillow. No tent is needed.
25. How often will there be toilets available on the walk?
On some days, there are very limited toilet facilities available. The pilgrimage organisers will be carrying a trowel, toilet paper and hand sanitiser for use on remote sections of the track.
26. Are showers available at the end of each day of walking?
There are hot showers available at the Wentworth Falls accommodation. Showers are also available at local leisure centres (entry fees apply) in Glenbrook, Lawson and Blackheath but not at the parishes themselves. No showers are locally available at Springwood or Katoomba.
27. What happens if the weather is bad?
The pilgrimage continues in rain, hail or shine. The only instance in which the pilgrimage or part thereof would be cancelled is in the case of a serious bushfire in the local area or other extreme circumstances.
28. How much water do I need to carry?
On most days, pilgrims only need to carry 2 to 3 L of water at any one time because refill facilities are available. The maximum water volume that needs to be carried on any one day is 5 L.
29. Do I need to bring my own food?
This depends on the pilgrimage option selected. For those who have chosen the ‘fully catered pilgrimage’, pilgrims only need to supply food for the first day of walking (snacks, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea). All other meals are included in the cost. Those on a ‘dinner only’ pilgrimage will be provided with the dinner meal throughout the pilgrimage but need to provide all other meals and snacks. Those on a ‘fully self catered pilgrimage’ need to provide all of their own food.
30. Can the Epiphany Pilgrimage be done at other times of the year
The Epiphany Pilgrimage can only be walked at the time of the Feast of the Epiphany in early January. Pilgrims can, however, walk the Way of the Magi route any time they want. Over the coming years, the organisers plan to blaze (mark) the track to make a self-guided pilgrimage easier. Please contact us for further information.
31. Where do I get more information?
You are always welcome to email email@example.com for more information or contact Briony or Jesse on 0423 257 580 / 0478 637 052.