Julian Ledger reflects on the past year’s events in NSW …
There is a bit of space at the front of our place and for the past few years it has been home to the two rogaining box trailers. They are known affectionately as the Admin trailer and the Catering trailer and act as mobile storage containers for all the stuff it takes to put on a rogaine. They go off to rogaines and then more often than not travel directly on to the next one. Recently, like migrating birds, they have both returned home for the first time since before the Paddy Pallin rogaine in June. This means it is the end of the rogaining year.
What a stellar rogaining year it has been for New South Wales; and I feel I can speak with some authority having made it to all bar one event. There is a great sense of satisfaction despite a twinge of weary legs at the memory of some of the tougher moments.
Congratulations go to all the organisers and course setters and of course the Committee who provide the coordination and leadership that makes it all happen..
Gareth Denyer’s November Socialgaine – Woronorogaine had a myriad of route choice and no shortage of bushy options with route finding to do. Although we missed out on seeing this scenic area on a sunny day, the wet and cool conditions suited our veteran team and the navigation kept us occupied. We were enjoying ourselves so much we were a little late back (91 to HH direct) and could have done with eight hours to do the course justice. The tracks and unmarked tracks were tricky but we had been warned at the start. With the number of controls and route choice the course rarely felt crowded despite over 300 hundred competitors.
The idea of taking the bus/train during the event was appealing but mentions of track work maintenance put us off. The public transport concept was consistent with the original idea of the Socialgaine being an end of year relaxed event to take the kids out for a stroll with early finish for a BBQ. It still has that element and is still social but there are also a fair share of gun teams running hard. That mixture is one of the enduring and endearing features of our sport.
What a contrast were the NSW Championships in October. It was a gutsy decision by Ian, Bert and the other organisers to go ahead despite major bushfires in the Blue Mountains and parched conditions. As it turned out going ahead was the right call and it was an enjoyable event (although we were lucky as the Putty Road was affected by fire a few days later).
We took the plunge and stayed out for the 24 hours with a reasonable nap from 2am to 4am under the big moon. I’ve always found the way to not waste time thinking about going back to the Hash House is to make sure that you are at least 10 km away at midnight and so we were! Water was the challenging issue – not enough of it – and not risking the non flowing Boggy Swamp Creek as per instructions we had to make a big swing back east for water at dusk. After dark the wheels started falling off with some seriously faulty navigation. However, come dawn we started firing again with a climb through the westerly controls. We were down to one map by this stage with the other lost near a log feature christened the bridge of death by partner Chris. Around 10.30am we lost time and missed one control and finished with a long route march back. Returning at 23.57 we definitely got our money’s worth.
Prior to that it was the Lake Macquarie 6/12 hour event where we only had time for the 6 hour. Overambitious would be the best word to describe our route. At least we went all the way down to the canyon creek and saw what it was like. Then it was a scamper back missing some controls but arriving just in time even if not by a very efficient route. A review of the map showed alternatives which gave a better score with much less effort. It may be that it is the frequent knowledge we could have done better which keeps bringing us back.
At the Paddy Pallin 6 hour rogaine I was an organiser and spent most the day replenishing water drops although consumption was modest in the cool June conditions. I spent time early in the year scoping the course and later vetting controls and also picking them up. Glenbrook National Park is an old favourite and in 1991 was the home of the first 400 competitors plus Paddy Pallin rogaine. Some years later there was an Upsidedownogaine which started at midnight. The area is deceptive – looks quite modest – but the bush can be challenging and organiser Michael Watts and course setter, Warwick Dougherty, did just that. Especially if you ventured south to some of the thick stuff which in retrospect took too much time for a six hour event.
I was sorry to miss the Bungonia event but had a good run at the three hour Minigaine around Mosman – a little local knowledge from orienteering maps proved handy in optimising the route choice. Before that it was the Metrogaine up at Swansea. Spectacular coastal scenery but also some great forest legs. I think we took on a bit too much road work which wore the feet and might have better as hard core rogaining sort of people to have chosen more in the bush. The event also featured the spot of the famous water crossing pictured on the website where sad to say we wimped out (team mates mobile phone to protect) and went around the long way. We also did not attempt a channel crossing taken but the winning womens’ team.
Finally I have a question. It arises from those memories of rugged ground, thick bush, sticks down neck and in ears, scratches, 20 metre contours hiding huge features, cliffs, ravines lawyer vines and swamps.
Is rogaining in NSW too hard?
I only ask because I started my rogaining career in Western Australia, have since also rogained in Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory, New Zealand and Canada. All these places had their moments (eg risk of bears (Canada), electric fences (NZ), mineshafts (Victoria), parrot bush (WA) but none was as hard as New South Wales. Now if the answer is yes or sometimes it is too hard then the solution is not so easy. The way to less thick bush is further west and we know that more kms means fewer entrants. However an appeal to the course setters of 2014 – not too many controls with clues like “Middle of thicket in shallow indistinct gully”