More and more people from Australia are traveling all the way to Scandinavia to experience the St. Olav Trail. We met up with two of them, Louise and Mel, just before they crossed the border into Norway.
‘We are from Tamborine Mountain, just one hour from Brisbane, in what is the oldest rainforest in the world’, begins Louise.
‘When we decided to come to Europe, we were looking into trails we could hike. Everybody knows about the Camino of course, but we were not planning to walk with thousands of other pilgrims – we wanted to walk in nature, by ourselves’, says Mel.
‘When I was hiking in other places, I heard about St. Olavsleden, so now here we are’, continues Louise. ‘Not that we were looking for a pilgrim route per se. We just wanted to hike in a climate different than ours, in nature different than at home, with a story behind it. There are trails in Australia, but with exception of the indigenous trails, there are not many historical paths.’
‘We are not walking St. Olavsleden for religious reasons either’, explains Mel. ‘You could say that nature is our religion.’
Louise adds: ’Nature is redemptive. You are made a better person. You can think great thoughts when hiking through nature. No matter the weather.’
‘And you can even do that when you hike in a couple’, says Mel. ‘We both walk at different speeds: we start together and we end the day together – but in-between we walk mostly alone. Time to think, time to sing eighties songs in your head.’
Any tips for hikers who would like to go to Australia?
‘Don’t go in summer – go in winter’, says Mel. ‘The Heysen Trail is nice. And the Great Ocean Road.’
‘And Cradle Mountain in Tasmania’, adds Louise. ‘Although don’t do that one in winter. But if you really want to hike “down under”, go to New Zealand. It has much better trails.’