Sinnamon Park Local Embarked on a Life-changing Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

Just two months into retirement, Sinnamon Park local and Indooroopilly Probus Club member Gregory Stegman embarked on a 35-day trek from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. His life has never been the same since.

Greg Stegman has been managing an Australian-wide real estate investment company for two decades, working 80 hours a week.   In 2014, however, he decided that it was time to retire and leave the corporate world. Two months after retiring, at the age of 64, Greg set off on a 750-km walk from France to Santiago de Compostela that would change his life forever. 

“In September 2014, I officially retired from my business and within weeks I arrived in Saint-Jean-Pied-De-Port in France which was the start of the Camino Frances,” he recalled.

The Camino Frances or “French Way” is one of the most popular routes of the Camino de Santiago, or “The Way of  St James” – a network of pilgrims leading to the apostle Saint James the Great shrine in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain. The Camino has been walked by thousands of Saints, Sinners, Pilgrims, Kings and Queens as well as people grieving and those seeking redemption. 

At 64, Greg Stegman suffered his first mini-stroke and changed his lifestyle to prevent these strokes from further taking a toll on his health. “The Camino has called me, however,” he said, “it’s a 750-kilometre trek that was known to take at least 35 days.”

“Leaving the quaint French village of SJDP, one is challenged by a 25km hike across the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain. Stories abound of Pilgrims becoming lost due to the ever presence of dense fog or falling on the muddy pathways.

“Somehow, I made it through the first day but carrying an 8kg backpack was a task I hadn’t experienced before. Blistered feet and severe chafing were the effects of constant rain that day.”

Greg managed to walk around 25 kilometres each day and with each passing day he felt that he became stronger. His mind, he said, also adjusted to the simplified lifestyle.

“However, it’s the revision of one’s past life that occupies the mind when walking alone. Former conversations and memories of loved ones and family are constant flashbacks. Maybe it’s the rhythmic sound of walking poles hitting the ground with each step, like a drummer on a Viking longboat keeping the roarers together with their oars.”

On the tenth day, he could already barely walk as the shin splint finally took its toll. Luckily, a Spanish Pilgrim, who turned out to be a doctor, approached him and offered help. Through this man, he also learned about the different stages of the Camino – letting go, forgiveness, the inner journey of spiritual awareness and the enlightened stage. And he has just completed the first stage.

“I fully recovered and completed my journey to Santiago. This walk changed my life to such a degree that I have now walked the Caminos of France, and Portugal, the Jesus Trail in Israel and Buddhist trails in Japan.

 the Probus Club of Indooroopilly
Photo Credit: supplied

Greg is an Indooroopilly Probus Club member and he said that joining the club has given him a “new dimension in life, meeting like-minded people as everyone has a story to tell about their own life’s journey.”

Formed in 2014, the Probus Club of Indooroopilly has more than 90 members who meet on the first Tuesday of every month. The Club provides opportunities for members to meet fellow retirees on a regular basis, fostering friendships and a healthy mind and body through social interaction and activities.