Vivienne conquers the Camino

Tuesday 11 December 2018


Long time member Vivienne is living proof that keeping fit and active enriches life far beyond physical health.

We recently caught up with her to hear about her once-in-a-lifetime experience of hiking the famous Camino De Santigo in Europe.

The 56 year old mother from Cremorne has been a Yarra Leisure member since 1997 and attended Troy's Circuit classes for over ten years. "Classes are my favorite form of exercise," she says. "I like being pushed to challenge myself, and doing that in a group setting is fun and engaging".

Viv's made some great friends at Yarra Leisure and says regular exercise gives her a buzz. "Being fit is empowering. It helps you deal with whatever life throws at you."

She first heard about the Camino from a fellow hiker during a trip with her husband in 2017. Known in English as 'the way of Saint James', the 800km journey is a network of trails leading to the shrine of the Saint James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in the northwest of Spain. It is here that the remains of the apostle saint are said to be buried.

By the end of 2017, Vivienne had made up her mind that the Camino was something she had to experience. She made it her goal to complete the walk solo and carry her backpack the entire way.

After months of training and careful preparation, Viv boarded a plane in September 2018 to start the thousand year old pilgrimage, departing from Saint-Jean in the Pyrenean foothills in southwest France. Hiking through mountains, woodland, forests and open plains, Vivienne was solo but never really alone. There were always other 'peregrinos' on the Camino to walk with if you wanted the company.

She faced her share of challenges along the way, including falling ill, which set her back a day of walking. "But that's part of the adventure," she reflects. "Pushing yourself, getting lost and finding your way, meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and eating interesting food."

After a month-long journey, Viv reached the steps cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, finishing the Camino, but deciding to continue hiking a further 115km to the rocky peninsula of Cape Finisterre which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Finisterre derives from the Latin term 'finis terrae', meaning 'end of the earth' and in Roman times, was believed to be the edge of the known world. The entire trip took her 34 days.

It sounds like an overwhelming feat, but one thing Vivienne couldn't stress enough was just how much fun she had. "Yes, it was tough, but gee, I also had a great time!"

This unstoppable glass-half-full woman is now preparing for the 500km Four Rivers Bicycle Trail in Korea next year, and this time she'll take the hubby along.

When asked what advice she would give others planning a big hike, Viv advised that careful planning and the right equipment go a long way. "But don't worry too much about things that are out of your control. Trust yourself and persevere. Believe you can do it and you will!"

Special thanks to Vivienne for sharing her story with us. You are an amazing woman and a true inspiration!

We look forward to sharing more great stories from our members in 2019.

Know a member with an interesting story?

We would love to hear from members who are interested in sharing their stories and achievements with the Yarra Leisure community.

Please contact Leah Pavasaris, Marketing and Communications Officer, by email to


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