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Walking the streets of St Mary MacKillop


A new walking trail through the streets of Kensington and Norwood brings to life the area’s connection with Australia’s first canonised saint, Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

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Launched by History Trust SA chief executive Greg Mackie last month, the new Mary MacKillop Walk includes 14 stops in a circular route beginning and ending at the Mary MacKillop Museum in High Street, Kensington.

Each stop tells the story of Mary’s link to the landmark such as the house of Dr John Benson, a popular local doctor, whom Mary often called upon for assistance.

The first stop features a memorial to poet and journalist Max Harris (1921-1995), one of her most ardent promotors whose ashes are interred in Mary MacKillop Park.

Laying flowers on her father’s memorial were Samela Harris and partner Bruce Blackwell.

Other sites such as the historic Kensington Village formed part of the local community in which Mary and her Sisters of St Joseph were so immersed.

The stops are signposted and there is a booklet in electronic and print format to guide and inform pilgrims as they complete the 60-90 minute journey.

Guided walks are also available on the first Sunday and first Wednesday of each month.

Mr Mackie said with the opening of the new museum just prior to COVID-19 and now the launch of the walking trail, the precinct would increasingly become a significant site of pilgrimage for Catholics and visitation of cultural tourists alike.

“The more I learn about this modern day saint the more in awe I am about the extent of her impact,” he said.

“In charitable and philanthropic circles these days it is impact that changes the world.”

He said the History Trust had provided funding of nearly $90,000 since 1994 to the Mary MacKillop Museum and more recently $15,000 towards the walk and the publication of the guide booklet.

“I am delighted to launch another important addition to the historical and cultural landscape of our city,” he said.

Attorney General Vickie Chapman, representing Premier Steven Marshall, acknowledged Mary MacKillop’s passion for education and the underprivileged, but also her “very painful period of excommunication”.

“I will be taking my little red booklet and walking in the footsteps of this extraordinary Australian and now saint,” she said.

Archbishop Patrick O’Regan welcomed his “fellow pilgrims” and said his “spiritual imagination” had always included a Mary MacKillop walk, starting from where he grew up in Perthville, NSW, where Mary came with Fr Julian Tenison Woods in 1872 to establish a convent.

The Archbishop’s mother was one of eight children and she spent a lot of time in the convent because her aunt was a nun and looked after some of the older girls.

“So I feel as though I have been walking the MacKillop walk for a long time,” he said.

“I remember at Christmas time all the nuns would come home before being allotted their appointments for the next year.

“In Perthville there’s a hill called Bald Hill that has one solitary tree on it, and one of the things the Sisters used to do is walk up the top of the hill and have a picnic.

“They would look back down on this lovely little vale and see the hand of God. For them it was really the embodiment of the whole Mary MacKillop story – so we need that sense of place, it’s not just an idea, it’s an embodied reality.

“I am delighted to catch up with this dimension of Mary’s journey and also delighted that we are doing it during Easter because it’s a time of pilgrimage.”

Bookings are required for guided walks on the first Sunday and first Wednesday of each month, meeting at 10.30am at the Mary MacKillop Museum. Contact MMK Museum on 8130 5910 or email


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