• Alison (L) and Monica on the trail. Image supplied
    Alison (L) and Monica on the trail. Image supplied

Camino veterans Monica Barrett and Alison Mott met a long time ago but bonded over long distance walks and they know do iconic Caminos together.

Monica: “I first met Alison about 25 years ago when I started a new job and I was also fairly new to Brisbane. I needed some friends. I wasn’t much of a walker at that time, but Alison and some colleagues used to go on bushwalking social outings so I decided to go along. Encouraged by Alison, I discovered a love of walking, and set myself a goal to do a walking holiday in Tuscany. I did that and loved it!

Alison and I went on to do many walking holidays together. We have completed many self guided package walks including: white hill towns of Andalucia, Dordogne River Valley, Malerweg in Swiss Saxony, King Ludwig’s Way in Bavaria, the Luberon Valley in Provence and the Cotswolds Way. We have also done the Routebourne Track in NZ as a guided walk. We have planned and walked unassisted the Portugese Camino from Barcelos to Santiago di Compestela, the Via Francigena from Lucca to Rome, and the Cammino Materano – both the via Peuceta and the via Ellenica.

Why do I walk with Alison? She is a great buddy – we can talk, laugh, be silent and enjoy the countryside. She is strong uphill and while I trudge up she gently encourages and waits for me. Equally, I am faster on the level or downhill so can encourage her when we need to make up time or try to arrive at our destination before bad weather sets in. We are intuitive to each other’s needs.

I often ask “How far do we have to go” when I get tired. Alison’s response is always “Its just around the next bend”. Of course it never is, and when we get round the next bend she has made us laugh because the end is not in sight. Whenever we have not walked together for a while, when we lace up our boots, don our packs and take our first steps, we both say “ Doesn’t this feel good!”

Walking has been a great physical achievement for me. One which I would never have achieved without Alison’s support and encouragement.”

Alison: “I first met Monica about 25 years ago when she joined my worksite. At that time some of our team were doing regular bushwalks and she joined us for one on the outskirts of Brisbane. Monica had previously lived in Alice Springs and there was shocked silence on the walk when she told us they used to play paddy melon bowls there, as we all thought she was referring to Pademelon wallabies.

I also discovered on that walk her (loudly voiced) loathing of leeches. This has not changed and she is responsible for is a strong smell of deet on any rainforest walks we complete. Since that time we have done multiple multi-day and day walks together.

I tend to be quicker on uphill and Monica on downhill sections so overall that works well. We love to immerse ourselves in different environments and cultures. We both tend to be very organised and plan our trails and backpack contents fastidiously. Our camaraderie and similar sense of humour has helped us enjoy even the most challenging of walks, though I must say we have generally been very lucky with the weather and conditions encountered. It is wonderful to be able to reflect on our adventures together and plan what we will try next!”

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