25 Year Legends – The Organisers of the Lake Macquarie Rogaine

This is an expanded version of the tribute I gave at the 6-hour presentation of the 25th Lake Macquarie Rogaine on behalf of President, Gill Fowler, to recognize the extraordinary contribution made by two rogaine stalwarts – Bert Van Netten and Bob Gilbert.

It was in September 1992 that Bert gained support from Lake Macquarie Council to include a rogaine each year in the Lake Macquarie City Games. The support came in the form of some cash. Our still new sport of rogaining was gaining a level of respectability! Who could have imagined that the relationship with the Council would have continued successfully every year to this day.

Bert together with Ian Dempsey and others of what we called the Newcastle/Central Coast mob were amongst the founders of rogaining in New South Wales. Bert’s courses were often challenging and always original just like the man. The Lake Macquarie 12-hour become established and was held around August/September each year and later with a 6-hour option. We came to know the Watagans and Sugarloaf Range, the varied bush and views both east to the coast and west out towards Wollemi. The fabulous waratahs, the unspeakable lawyer vines, a variety of tree types, pockets of rainforest in gullies sometimes chocked with enormous rocks, waterfalls, cliffs, bush trails, swinging vines, lilly pilly, gymea lilies, lyre birds and cabbage tree palms.

In 1992 rogaining in NSW was growing quickly with more and more people attracted to the sport mostly through word of mouth. At the Paddy Pallin 6-hour numbers had increased to over 400 – just a dream a couple of years prior. In October of that year the first World Rogaining Championships was to be held in Victoria. Bert had the idea that for his first Lake Macquarie event he would offer prize money in a bid to attract elite athletes like marathon runners. I remember being on the Rogaining Committee and this idea being controversial. Surely we were amateurs competing for the love of the sport. Would prize money taint the event and encourage cheating? Eg teams sending the strongest member to the ‘out and back’ controls (a single punch card per team in those days). The Lake Macquarie became tagged as “the Dash for Cash” a cheeky name when everyone knows that whilst this sport needs strong fast legs it also requires cunning and strategy.

A few new speedster competitors did compete but whether their navigation was not up to scratch or they found some of the tougher aspects of rogaining not to their liking I’m not sure but they didn’t seem to stick with it. In fact in 1992 the usual rogaining suspects were winners – I think our team was third creating an ethical dilemma of what do with the (modest) prize money.

At that 1992 event we started on the east side of the range near where the freeway was under construction. A memory is trotting down a long empty stretch of straight road after 11pm in a rush to get back on time. Looking at the old map this morning after the efforts at the event this year, and on a post-rogaine endorphic high, I can still remember some moments at that first event. By the fifth control I had lost my compass but compensated later at night by becoming the specialist pace counter on the team. I also note that control 30 this year was control 33 in 1992 but of course did not recognize that one.

Bert had the ability to attract others around him and reminded me of an unorthodox field marshal coordinating the troops. An advantage was that on hand were the Newcastle orienteering community who brought rigor to course setting. Names like Rob Vincent, Ian Dempsey and Dug Floyd come to mind and forgive me for not remembering more. However at the centre of it all has been Bert who has contributed to setting 22 of the 25 Lake Macquarie rogaines.

But there is one other name who has become most associated with the Lake Macquarie event and that is Bob Gilbert. Bob took over as Event Controller some years in and has brought his skills and organising ability contributing a huge effort to consistently put on a great event each year. Many of us have run events from time to time. It is a very rewarding activity but does require focus, time and commitment and most are happy to hand on the baton. Bob is different because he has continued to carry the responsibility over many years. Not only that but this year he also organised the Paddy Pallin at Catherine Hill Bay in some very, very, wet conditions. He told me on Saturday that those of us who got bogged left a sufficient mess behind that the rogaine bond to Council was forfeited for remediation work. Such things are the life of an event organiser.

Over the years the Lake Macquarie event has been held in fair and foul conditions and everything in between. Whilst the areas have been similar the event has never got stale. There was the period where Bert experimented with making all controls the same value. Another year almost every control was little more than 20 metres off a track – a so called runners’ course. I also remember a year where many teams cleared the course. Then last year the event doubled as the NSW Championships.

The Lake Macquarie has been a success and always well supported by rogainers. My impression is that numbers have averaged 300-350 per year. Besides raising money for, and involving, many local organisations like the scouts it has, together with the Paddy Pallin, been a financial contributor to the New South Wales Rogaining Association. It has helped ensure there has always been a strong bank balance, monies available for things like insurances and new navlights not to mention underwriting occasional events like hosting the Australian Championships and back in 2006 the World Championships out at the Warrumbungles.

Thank go to Bert, Bob and all the others who have made the Lake Macquarie event such a success over 25 years.

One Reply to “25 Year Legends – The Organisers of the Lake Macquarie Rogaine”

  1. Jamie van Netten on 1/09/2016 at 6:30 pm says:

Great article. Well written and heartfelt.

The importance of a good first aid kit

[Due to a server failure in Aug-2019 we have restored this historic post]

Posted on 2/09/2016 by Catherine Wood

Ok so story goes…….

  • We had a really good start and were tracking well.
  • It got dark and we were tracking directly from 41 to 34 up a creek bed.
  • No rocks had been slippery or showed signs of any slip at all to be honest.
  • Malcolm was in front and just stepped from one rock to a bigger boulder-type rock and slipped and fell heavily.
  • I went to help and knew immediately that he had quite a head wound.
  • He never lost consciousness but was dazed, I had to drag him out backwards from the water and after some time encouraged him to sit down (after he noticed the blood streaming down his face, that helped !)

Out comes the first aid kit. What was missing from ours was some padding or gauze to place pressure on the wound, we had everything else. We also had a mouldy bandage but it did the trick, (note to self) must check first-aid contents prior to next adventure but as far as the padding/ gauze went I needed some. I could have made do with what I had but noticed another bunch of rogainers following. They assisted with the contents of their first aid kit and had gauze which was perfect. Applied that plus a bandage and the Ay Ups also provided extra pressure to help stem the blood.

I then proceeded to gather Malcolm’s glasses out of the bottom of the creek with the assistance of the guy (sorry forgot his name) from the other group. He held me by the shorts whilst I dug around in the water to retrieve firstly the frames and then each lens…

(Editor – I believe the team that helped was team 63 “Wild Rogue Women Rogainers”).

This lovely group decided to stay with us just to make sure Mal was ok. We then set off in search of checkpoint 34 and on our way out we figured after a short time that it was harder to trek up the creek and that Mal and I should find the shortest way to the road so we could head back to Tea & Damper and then the road home.

So we parted company and headed to the road, only to meet up shortly after with our original helpers and we all tracked to T & D together.

From there we headed back to the Hash House after giving my lights to the Team of four who helped us out, as it became obvious they were going to run out of headtorch light way before midnight and Mal and I figured that we only needed one set to get home with, but we had to get checkpoint 11 and 13 on the way back ….. ? not that far off track really.

Then back to base, in the car, decided that since it was Saturday night and we would be up against drugs and alcohol issues at most hospitals we would opt for a small one and try our luck so as not to get stuck in casualty all night. Wyong was perfect, straight in, Drs were great, an hour later we left with 13 stitches in place and headed back to the Blue Mountains.

Great day out really!

We will next time however take padding/gauze in our first aid kit ?

Thanks, Catherine

The Perfect Event

The Perfect Event

Posted on 10/09/2016 by Chris Stevenson

I am quite excited about the forthcoming NSW champs. I was wondering why I am excited and I reckon that the NSW Champs might be close to a perfect event. This led me to thinking what, for me, constitutes the perfect event. Here are my thoughts, feel free to add your own.

My perfect event includes the following features:


The ideal location for me is somewhere in the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains is where my soul lives. I love the fact that it has 5 million people on the doorstep and yet you can walk for days without seeing anyone. The Blue Mountains has the advantage of being close to Sydney and relatively easy to get to, but also presenting some quite remote country with significant navigational challenges. I also like to explore, so I always enjoy rogaining in an area which is new to me.

Kowmung River

Some people like mountain views, for me I love rarely visited open valleys with pristine creeks running down the middle. On many an event I will note a perfect secluded valley and promise myself that I will return one day, just to lie on the grass and take in the solitude, but I rarely do.


This will be controversial, but I think the best events are 12 hours. A 12-hour event takes in a significant portion of night navigation which separates the skilled navigators from the less skilled ones and also has the advantage of not occupying the entire weekend. For those with families, you can spend one day pursing your passion and the other day enjoying family time.


I enjoy looking at a map that has a lot of route choice but no obvious high pointing route. I like a map whose secrets can only be unraveled after an hour of close study. I like a 1:25000 map because that is what I am used to and it requires less mental gymnastics to relate the map to the ground. I like a map that does not force a “do or die” loop. I like a map where good teams head in all different directions at the start. I enjoy maps with limited out of bounds areas. There is nothing worse than taking an inefficient route because of a set of red lines on a map.

It is sometimes difficult to achieve but I like a map where the Hash House is in the middle of the map since this usually offers better route choice. I also like a map with 10m contours. You can hide a lot in a 20m contour.



The perfect terrain is a very personal thing. I am pretty good through thick scrub so I like a course that includes some thick scrub, but no more than 1 hour’s worth. I like navigating through pine plantations. I know it is a very artificial and sterile environment but there is something cosy about walking or running on the open, dark and slightly claustrophobic forest floor. I like creeks that you can actually walk along. Often walking along creeks can be a very slow and dangerous affair. I like creeks that you can actually walk down without being cut to shreds. I am not as fit as I should be so I like climbs that are no more than 150m. I like a course that is big enough that you can go a while without seeing competitors. I like a course that has fire trails but also forces some cross country navigation.

Chris on Mt Koorian


Partner selection is tricky. You want someone who is of a similar level of fitness, so you are not frustrated waiting or under pressure to keep up. You want a partner who will “take the piss” when you offer a bearing that is 180° wrong, but not make you feel bad when you can’t find a control. You want a partner who is happy to share the mental load and offer suggestions when things are getting uncertain. A partner who will take turns in pace counting and has a good feel for their stride length. Your partner also needs to know when to yield and when to “stick to their guns” over a questionable navigational choice. I like a partner who will take the initiative when I am tired, but let me lead when I am feeling strong.

My partner for the NSW Champs

The NSW Champs will be my 70th rogaining event. Having taken in all of these events I have to say that I have only competed in one event that I didn’t really enjoy. I remember crossing the finish line and being a bit underwhelmed by the experience. I can’t remember which event it was, but I am pretty sure it was a 3 or 6 hour one.

2 Replies to “The Perfect Event”

  1. Trevor Gollan on 15/09/2016 at 9:47 am says:

Thanks for the thoughts, Chris, with which I’m in general agreement.

Duration isn’t a factor if you achieve the other criteria, however a perfect rogaine should include some night navigation.

I’d add that a good/great/perfect rogaine must have some surprise and adventure. That may be unexpected scenic beauty, a cliff-edge scramble, extreme weather perhaps, sunset and sunrise are often exceptional, finding a difficult flag in the dark. I recall being lashed by a spectacular thunderstorm at dusk, happening upon a shepherd’s hut that provided one cosy candle for our warmth, followed by a successful night-walk under a sparkling, starry sky. The people around you often contribute to your surprise and adventure too.

I wonder if the perfect rogaine is the one where you spike every control, including those through the night-time. But then that may indicate perfect rogainers rather than a perfect rogaine.

From a coursesetter’s perspective, my perfect rogaine would include stockyards, the summit, waterfalls and/or a pub.

  • Netta Holmes on 21/09/2016 at 8:23 pm says:

My perfect rogaine includes spectacular views at sunset or sunrise or moonrise, limited blackberries and no floods. I hate long road bashes and love slipping through some thickish bush while listening to another team trying to crash through. The perfect partner is someone who will sing when required, and is really good at navigating at sunset and sunrise when I feel rather sleepy.

Cheers to all the ‘older’ rogainers and I hope to catch up with you soon.

Great finish to the NSW Champs – U23’s

[Due to a server failure in Aug-2019 we have restored this historic post]

Posted on 17/10/2016 by Alan Mansfield

From the Event page – “Congratulations to Rochelle Duerden and Mitchell Lindbeck who, after the correction of a punch failure, have been propelled to 1st place in the U23 category. Commiserations to Ivan Koudashev and Elena Koudasheva who have been bounced into 2nd place in the U23 category as a consequence. Ivan and Elena are fine athletes who, as a team, are well under 23 and will be competing and presumably winning the U23 category for years to come.”

I believe I saw Ivan & Elena run in to the finish line, it was fun to watch a sibling cheer them on, and to see an obviously young team finish so strongly on a glorious day in a glorious location.

Thanks to the competitors and organizing team it was a fun event to provide the catering for.

Great location, fine weather and maybe the best Hash House site I have seen apart from the westerly wind.

3 Replies to “Great finish to the NSW Champs – U23s”

  1. Trevor Gollan on 17/10/2016 at 9:32 pm says:

Don’t complain about the westerly wind, Alan, I didn’t enjoy it either, but at 5am today the rain squalls commenced – including the westerly wind

This morning it was 7° cold – bleak and unpleasant – so we had the best of the weather on the weekend. I waited in my car for the marquee and toilet collectors, with the engine running, heater on 20° and carseat warmer thumping

I’m very thankful we didn’t have that weather yesterday

2. Tristan White on 18/10/2016 at 10:09 pm says:

Worth noting that it really was Mitch’s last chance for a U23 victory – Sunday was his 23rd birthday! Well done to all!

3. Alan Mansfield on 19/10/2016 at 8:20 pm says:

An essential requirement for a competitive rogainer – good timing.
Trevor you paint a bleak picture of Monday.

What? You missed it?

Posted on 17/10/2016 by Chris Stevenson

The NSW Championship last weekend was an event not to be missed, if you didn’t make it you missed out on a superb, classic rogaine. We had 200 starters which was 41 teams in the 8 hour event and 46 teams in the 24 hour championship event.

I was very excited to be rogaining in the Kanangra area. It is an area in which I have bushwalked over years and I was keen to get to see more of it and having completed the event I will have memories that will endure as long as I do.

The Maps

Having arrived at the event, the first challenge after setting up the tent was to cover the map. The map for the event were two A3 maps arranged in the perpendicular. In general there seems to be three different approaches to map management:
1. Cover with contact
2. Use a map case
3. Au naturel

In days gone by, covering a map or using a map case was essential because maps were printed on normal paper and were unlikely to last the event. Over recent years the quality of the paper has improved dramatically and it is feasible for a map to last a 24-hour event unprotected.

I would not risk using an unprotected map, there is too much risk of it being a damaged from abrasion or spills such as blood, sweat or water. My team mate, Julian, is a keen student of the contacting approach and covering two joined A3 maps in the outdoors, without air bubbles the size of a small planet, is a tricky task. There are many factors to be considered such as wind conditions, the curl of the contact, the size and flatness of the table, as well as the competence and manual dexterity of the assistant. I am very pleased to report that Julian’s map was covered perfectly which is an achievement only rivalled by finding a 100-pointer in a poorly defined gully, in the rain, at 3am, on a moonless night.

Personally, I cannot be bothered with the artistry of contacting. Having said that, there are clear advantages to contacting a map. About 5-6 times during the event I was forced to try and re-arrange my maps in the map case, while Julian looked on with impatience and a touch of superiority.

Julian proudly displaying contacting perfection

The Course

The area of the event (western side of Kanangra Walls road) is truly beautiful. It is a high at 1,300m in parts and lightly forested with lots of beautiful grassy plains, punctuated with swamp land. Every 5-10 minutes I would pass a natural grassy area in which I would have loved to stop and have a lie down to take in the serenity. The swamps were, in some cases, surrounded by a bit of dense scrub but typically this was only a few metres thick so it didn’t become frustrating. The course was full of wombats and kangaroos as well as black cockatoos.

From a rogaining perspective the course was magnificent. There were lots of controls on offer and lots of route choice. Julian and I had an objective of setting a course with not too many hills (we are getting soft) and one that got us back to the hash house for a well-earned, mid-competition sleep. There were enough controls on offer that we could return to the hash house and set out again without much unproductive time.

All of the controls we visited were set to test participants, at a standard appropriate for a NSW Championship. Interestingly, there were no novice teams entered in the event, which is probably a good thing, because a real novice team (not a just social climbing orienteer) would have struggled to find anything. Lots of controls were set in shallow gullies or subtle knolls and if your concentration lapsed you were going to be wandering in circles for a long time.

I am proud to report that Julian and I found every control we went for and only really wasted material amounts of time at control 50. Control 50 was a rocky knoll. The knoll and its rocks were so subtle it was hard to find it from 20 metres away. That is, the “rocky knoll” was neither very “rocky” nor was it very “knolly”, but having said that all rocky knolls are hard to find if you are looking in the wrong spot, which is what Julian and I were doing having done a compass bearing from 63 which was 700m away.

On the subject of knolls there was control 56, The knoll, on an outstanding natural feature made up of huge pink granite boulders with a great outlook. (Recommended for control picker uppers which are still needed over next two weeks – those who would like a bushwalk on the map should contact Trevor Gollan on 0408 230 593)

The weather during the event was about as close to perfect as you could get; the day was not too hot and the night not too cold and the wind at the start of the event was perfect for contacting excellence.

The Results

Julian and I were content with our 17th out of 41 teams in the Championship event. We scored 1860 points which is just over half of our overall winners, Julie Quinn and Susan Sprague, who scored an impressive 3,600 points. How many sports are there where a women’s veteran team can win an open competition?
In fact our results are a bit of a tribute to diversity:

Place Category
1st Women’s Veteran
2nd Men’s Veteran
3rd Men’s Super Veteran
7th Open Mixed
9th U23 Mixed

And in the 8 hour event, Hugh Stodart and Jamie Stodart, a family team, finished 2nd.

It is interesting that average age of competitor was 41 years old.

Count   24 hour Championship
Ave Age
8 hour event
Ave Age
Ave Age
62 Female 37.8 37.4 37.5
138 Male 46.5 39.1 43.1
200 Grand Total 44.2 38.5 41.4

The Organisers / Volunteers

I am in awe of the people who volunteered to support this event. If you think about all the roles that rely on volunteers in our sport you will appreciate the effort that goes into an event like this. We had:

• Event co-ordinator – Trevor Gollan (Excellent organisation as always)
• Course setters – Ronnie Taib and David Williams (Great map guys)
• Course vetters – Trevor Gollan, Vivien de Remy de Courcelles and Emmanuelle Covert
• Flag hangers – Vivien de Remy de Courcelles and Emmanuelle Covert
• Flag retrievers (I hope there are some volunteers)
• Administration staff – Vivien de Remy de Courcelles, Corinna Lueg and Oliver Pitman
• Safety – Dug Floyd (A fairly incident free weekend, fortunately)
• Catering (Alan Mansfield, Somia Kupina and 2nd Enfield Scouts)

There was plenty of room on the course for more people, in fact Julian and I went 7 hours without seeing anybody at all. If we didn’t see everybody at the start, we would have thought we were doing it on the wrong day.

Thanks to everyone involved, It was a memorable event.

3 Replies to “What? You missed it?”

  1. Carolyn Rigby on 18/10/2016 at 8:45 am says:

Thanks for the great read. Sounds wonderful from go to (not) woe! or is that whoa?

  • Mike Hotchkis on 18/10/2016 at 9:34 says:

The Perfect Event — certainly sums it up!

I’m with Julian on the art of applying contact. Takes years of practice. Chris, I’m glad you have a true master to learn from.

When it comes to age, you don’t want to be average in this game. Top places went mostly to Under-23s and over 40s, not to mention a few over-60s.

  • Trevor Gollan on 09/11/2016 at 9:30 pm says:

Just re-reading your excellent review, Chris, I should stress the effort of David and Ronnie. Not just the course setters – they also vetted, hung flags, collected flags, did admin, ran some safety checks and water drops, leapt tall buildings in a single bound…

This was David & Ronnie’s event through and through, and they did a great job

Funny Moments in Rogaining

[Due to a server failure in Aug-2019 we have restored this historic post]

Posted on 10/12/2016 by Chris Stevenson

Hi. It’s the off season for rogaining and it’s almost Christmas, so it is a time for reflection. Understanding this, I thought we could start a blog of funny moments in rogaining. If you want to contribute, simply comment on this post and once reviewed by the Webmaster (me) it will be made public (nothing libelous, please).
To start things off here is a couple of my funny recollections:

The first one is subtle, but I found it quite amusing and it involves Trevor Gollan, one of the backbones of our sport. The occasion was the award ceremony for the 6-hour event at the Tarlo river Autumngaine and the overall winners Peter Preston, Ben Rattray were being summoned by Trev to come forward to collect their prize, when Trev warned them not to trip over the log, that was jutting out of the fire, situated between them and himself.

The irony of this resonated immediately with my team mate Danny and me. Can you imagine two people in the world less likely to fall over a log in the dark than two elite rogainers?

The second one is a bit more slapstick. I can’t remember which event it was, it might have been the “Gurnang Gallop” in 1997, and in any case it was a number of years ago. It was late at night my team mate and I were hurtling down a gully to cross a creek and climb out the other side on the way to a control.

I was a few metres ahead of my team mate when I came to the creek, which was quite deep. I quickly sized up that I could jump the creek, which I did and them started up the other side of the gully. Well I am almost 6’2″ tall (187.5 cms) and my team mate is probably 5-6 inches (13 -15 cms) shorter and has relatively short legs. Anyway I wondered, halfway up the hill, if my team mate could make that jump and a listened out for him in the silence of a late evening in the bush.

Sure enough, what I heard was a jump followed by the sound of hands sliding through sword grass followed by a splash. It seems my team mate had replicated my jump, but only just, and had grabbed the sword grass to steady himself, failed to do so, and fell back in the creek. Rogainers are a tough bunch and to his credit my partner didn’t mention the failed leap, but he was clearly wet and I could see some blood was dripping from his hands when we finally caught up to each other.

4 Replies to “Funny Moments in Rogaining”

  1. Andrew Duerden 10/12/2016 at 11:33 pm says:

What is even funnier is that it takes a rogainer to understand your first funny moment ?

  • Trevor Gollan 01/01/2017 at 5:31 pm says:

I dunno how funny these are to other people but we laughed, chuckled, smiled or smirked at the following incidents – and unlike you, Chris, I’m going to name names

Partner in a Pool. The Lostock & Barrel NSW Champs 1998 was one of the soggiest events we’ve encountered … no rain while we were walking but there had been massive rains leading up to the event. The Paterson River was a thrashing torrent that barred access to many controls. About 1am we were crossing a very minor stream, so minor I don’t recall any challenge getting over it, and was most surprised to see a torch, with George Takacs attached, bobbing 20 metres downstream. It didn’t seem dangerous and he was totally unperturbed by the adventure, so we were able to laugh about it and push on through the night, he a bit wetter than I

Lindsay Young took a dunking in the 1989 12-hour near Wollombi, different in that he slid 5-10 metres down a sloping waterfall, like something from Wet’n Wild. The height of the slide gets longer each year in the telling, and Lindsay doesn’t think it as humorous as Peter Watterson and I do, but again there was no harm and we pushed on to collect all the controls

Lost and Found. My first rogaine was in 1981, a 24-hour event run by Sutherland Bushwalkers. My brother and I were going well in daylight but darkness was a new challenge that we failed. After searching futilely for two controls we road-bashed back to the hash house then found our first flag in the farming area about 3am. Yes, eight hours to find the first control. With increased confidence we pushed around the hill for the next flag, couldn’t find it, and so lay down for a nap until dawn arrived, not too far away. Also not far away was the flag by the dam, the one we’d found at 3am. We were woken by voices of another team as they punched the control point. The rest of our morning was good, in daylight. Since then the argyle apple has been one of my favourite trees, and my night-time navigation has improved…

… but never quite perfect. My third rogaine was the 1986 NSW Champs at Darkes Forest, one of the postage stamp events set by Andrew Blakers. Controls were numerous and close to each other, usually 200-400 metres apart. Peter Watterson and I, in our first rogaine together, entered the 8-hour event and were storming around the area, even with bare legs through the banksia and hakea swamps. Rushing towards the 8pm finish we managed to misplace ourselves, somewhere on the side of the O’Hares Creek valley. Bearing uphill and to the east we unexpectedly encountered a flag which allowed us to locate ourselves on the map then push in to the hash house. In hindsight, it wasn’t too unusual to bump into a flag given the density of controls on the course, however our late penalty bumped us out of first place.

Party Time. There’s been a couple of times where loud music has provided navigational support. The best one was the 1991 ACT Champs at Bondo, between Tumut and Brindabella. The Hash house was adjacent to another pine-forest clearing with a large group of motorbikers, and they had an impressive sound system that pumped all night. Lindsay Young and I were in the far south-east corner of the course, sometime about midnight, but you could tell where the hash house was by the Rolling Stones thumping in the distance.

Also impressive was the rave party on the Newnes Plateau, a few kilometres west of the hash house for the 2014 NSW Champs. Their music pulsed continuously from sunset Saturday, and was still loud and repetitive when we left Sunday afternoon. It provided guidance as we pushed through the forest, though the tunes weren’t familiar and we took special care near the cockatoo’s camp.

  • Lindsay Young on 09/04/2017 at 9:20 pm says:

Yes, Trev and Pete were very amused. I seem to remember sliding off the wet slippery rock and landing in a tree. I was only thankful that I didn’t get hurt… only the pride.

  • Reddall Leslie on 20/04/2017 at 6:27 pm says:

Funny about the 1986 Darkes Forest event, Trevor. I had the same thing happen in that event. When walking along we noticed the moon was on the wrong side, having unknowingly made a 180 degree turn. Our sense of panic soon disappeared when we stumbled on a control.

Them’s “The Rules”

[Due to a server failure in Aug-2019 we have restored this historic post]

Posted on 12/12/2016 by Chris Stevenson

At the most recent meeting of the NSW Rogaining Association Committee the issue of mis-punching electronic controls was discussed.

By default the event software we use (RogaineScore) records the lowest score recorded by a team member so any mis-punches lower the entire team’s score.

In the past we have been fairly generous in adjusting scores in the case of one team member not “punching” correctly but this approach has two problems, firstly this approach causes problems post event  and secondly does not align with the rules.

Our previous generous approach to mis-punching has been causing problems after the event. Our target is to get all the scores up and the presentations started 30 minutes after the event finishes and while sometimes we do not make this deadline we are usually pretty close.  At the presentation we want to be giving the right teams the right prizes and this is difficult if we have teams who add up their scores some time after the event, realise they have a mis-punch and  then want a score adjustment. The discussion at the Committee was prompted by one instance of this.

At the NSW Championship, one of the 24-hr category winners changed on the recognition of a mis-punch. It was this event that provoked the discussion at the Committee meeting in November.

Our rules are not silent on the subject and actually say: “Rule 18. Where more than one electronic recording device is provided to a team, all devices must record a visit to a checkpoint to gain points for that checkpoint.” That seems pretty straight forward and there is little room for misinterpretation.

Martin Dearnley (Socialgaine Organiser) demonstrating his punching form

We applied Rule 18 more strictly at the Socialgaine with interesting consequences.  One of the consequences was that our President, Gill Fowler, was hoisted on her own petard. Gill and her team mate Jess Baker would have placed first overall except one of them mis-punched control 38. My heart also went out to a family team who had 4 out of 5 members punch an 80 pointer but it seems one of the team mis-punched that control and lost the family some places.

Part of me says that it’s cruel to deny Gill and Jess their win and also to deny the family team their 80 pointer when rogaining should be about bush navigation, guile and endurance and not punching technique. On the other hand they are the rules and who says that the winning team of Martin Dent and Rowan Walker didn’t lose time because they were more diligent with their punches and perhaps could have got another 30 points if they didn’t lose a few seconds at each control making sure of their punch.  I am not as fast as Gill and Jess or Martin and Rowan so I always make sure that I see the second flash of the Navlight punch before moving on.

Sometimes the punches, not the human using them, fail and this happens occasionally during an event. In these cases though, it is usually obvious to the event administrator because many teams have the same problem and bulk adjustments are made to the scores.  Given the fact that the Navlight punches sit quietly in the bush, often for a couple of weeks before the event (and a couple of weeks after), it is amazing how robust and reliable these units are.

I can’t finish this blog post without commenting on the metal covers we use in events where the controls are more likely to be found by members of the public. Put simply, I hate them.  I am not a patient person during a rogaine, as my team mates will attest (Sorry guys) and my patience is pushed to the limit because it is very hard to see a flash from the end of the metal cover. The result is precious time lost trying to contort my wrist and the navlight into a position where I can see the second flash under the metal cover.

Also note that you can lodge a protest after an event if something happens that is not aligned to the rules and I cannot anticipate what a protest Committee may decide, but given our rules, it is unlikely that they would facilitate a score adjustment after a mis-punch.

Do you like it Soft or Hard?

Judging by our attendance at 12 and 24 hour events I think most Rogainers like it soft. The NSW Organising Committee (of which I am a part) are wondering why relatively few people enter 12 or 24 hour events.

I have a number of theories I would like to share:


Only a person with a tenuous hold on sanity would enjoy running around thick bush in the dark with a map and compass. “Normal” people simply do not feel the need to endure that much discomfort or have a competitive urge that will drive them for 24 hours. Yes, in case you were wondering, rogainers are not “normal” people.


I lose a lot of “brownie” points when I disappear into the bush for a weekend with mates. My wife has done a 24-hour event with me, but now we have young kids we can’t both go. All married people with young children will understand that a weekend away leaving your significant other at home with the kids has a price that must be paid.

A suggestion from my fellow Committee Members is to take my family with me. Good idea, but unfortunately my family’s hold on sanity exceeds mine, and I cannot find the words to convince them that wandering around the bush in the dark is fun. To be honest, my son thinks going somewhere without wifi is an unnatural and completely avoidable act.


I don’t know about the elite athletes, but my work on Monday suffers after a 24-hour event. No amount of coffee can replace the 20+ IQ points I sacrifice to fatigue. These days I take the Monday off after an event, but that also has a cost.


Most people do not like being in pain and it is almost impossible to do a 12 or 24-hour event without suffering some form of pain. I vividly remember ripping my big toe nail off 2 hours into the Garland Valley 24hr and also suffering heat stress around 3 hrs into the Gundy 24 hr. Let’s face it, in today’s modern society you can avoid almost any form of pain, but it is very difficult to do a 12 or 24-hour event without suffering some level of pain, either during or after the event.


Getting home after a 12 or 24-hour event is tricky. If you have been going hard for 24 hours it is risky to drive a motor vehicle and given that often these events are held in remote locations this risk is amplified. Please, please please do not try and drive home straight after a 12 or 24-hour event.

But wait, I am on the Committee and I am supposed to be promoting 12 and 24 hour events on behalf of Organising Committee so here are some reasons why you absolutely must do a 12 or 24-hour Rogaine.


I am in my 50s now and having led a relatively full life I forget things. I forget people I have worked with, I forget parties, I forget trips away, I forget what possessions I have and I even forget who won My Kitchen Rules, but I remember every 12 and 24-hour rogaining event I have ever done. I remember where the event was, I remember who was with me and I remember which course we took and what navigational blunders we made. I even remember which of my team mates I pushed against the electric fence to see if it was live.

When I am too old to compete, these are the memories I want to re-live, not who won the 2016 My Kitchen Rules competition.


I am an average rogainer, but I am proud of my ability to find an orange flag hanging on a tree in a valley which 99.9999% of the population will never visit. I am also proud of my ability to compete for 12 or 24 hours. I enjoy telling my work mates how I spent my weekend when the highlight of their weekend was seeing a movie none of us will remember in a year’s time.


I am not sure about others but there is something to be said about the chemicals that flows through your body for a few days or weeks after a 12 or 24-hour rogaine. Whatever the source; chemical, psychological or imagination I feel really good for a week or two following a rogaine and all I can think of is the next one.


I have worked in teams for many years both in my work life and also in my sporting life, having played many team sports such as indoor and outdoor cricket, yacht racing, volley ball, touch rugby and others. But you do not really know teamwork until you have done a 24-hour rogaine. Long rogaines take teamwork to the next level. You have a truly symbiotic relationship with your partner during the event. You might enter as strangers, but 24 hours later you will know that person well. My only real experience with teamwork comes from endurance events and not from an hour of sport or from a work conference get together.

Enjoying the Simple Things

A long rogaine puts your life into perspective and helps you to enjoy the simple things. Simple things like stopping moving, eating something you didn’t carry and a toilet with a seat, all seem like luxury after a long rogaine. Possessions all seem like meaningless encumbrances when you are on a long rogaine.  Very few rogainers drive expensive cars and I think this is why. They value experience over possessions.


Do you have trouble sleeping, well I know a surefire cure, it’s called a 12 or 24-hour rogaine.


There are many pleasures of rogaining, such as finding a difficult control at night while others wander in circles around you or comparing scores with another team to find out you have soundly beaten them. The Australian bush can be hard but is also very beautiful and there is something special about rogaining through the last gasp of light in the evening or in morning’s first light.


In conclusion, my message is simple:

Enter a 12 and or a 24 hour rogaine.

You have not lived until you have added that to your life’s kitbag of experiences.

Avoiding the Lawrence of Arabia country

Posted on 10/04/2017 by Julian Ledger

Congratulations to Steve Ryan course setter, Gill Fowler organiser and Anita Bickle admin, on the excellent Minigaine at Cronulla on Sunday. Exploring an area not so well known to many in very fair conditions was a great pleasure. The beaches, parks and views were all perfect. The dunes probably best avoided for mere mortals. The event was run efficiently and with a good atmosphere most fittingly as it coincided with the end of Gill Fowler’s fabulous five year term as President.

Steve stretched our legs and there was plenty of variety. Route choice was limited in parts but the mid-section of the map gave rise to plenty of options none of which stood out as the best. I’ve got a feeling that’s where I lost some time but the good news is that I beat Chris (let’s just get one more check point) Stevenson. And as the old saying goes, it is okay to come second last so long as you beat Chris!

The winner, Andrew Hill cleared the course with 2 minutes to spare – he looked good when we crossed paths and course setting doesn’t get any finer than that outcome.

Looking at the results one has to ask, do Rogainers do better on their own? Safety considerations aside if longer rogaines allowed solo entry would the lone wolves clean sweep the places as they did in Cronulla? When I started rogaining way back in Western Australia the thought was that three was the ideal team. One to map read, one to pace count at night and the other to help find the controls which tended to be a bit dodgy what with few contours, unreliable maps and no GPS for course setting in those days. On the other hand going solo means no distracting conversations, less chance of forgetting what you are supposed to be doing or partners pulling up with cramp. Left only with your inner voice you can focus on the navigation.

So which is best team or solo? Perhaps a teams versus solos challenge.

Meanwhile I’ve been hobbling around the city today with a sore heel. Is there a remedy or is it just rest is best? So long as it is healed by the Australian Champs on first weekend of May down south of Canberra so that I can keep up with partner Chris (victory or doom) Stevenson and guide him to good route choice.

By the way don’t be shy of the ‘championships’ moniker – all are welcome and it’s a regular rogaine which promises open bushland. On the Monday after, to impress workmates and friends, you can drop that what you were doing at the weekend was competing in the Australian championships.

Congrats to Trevor Gollan for his election as new President. We could not be in more experienced hands and no doubt the org will do well with the strong committee behind him.

One Response to Avoiding the Lawrence of Arabia country

  1. Bryon 20/04/2017 at 11:41 am says:

Over the past few years, I’ve found the team category is a great way to bring first timers along – after explaining what this sport is several times. They all do enjoy the day trip (and my enthusiasm and knowledge of a paper map) yet that being said, none of them have graduated onto becoming solo participants or becoming members.

Perhaps a trait of today’s young professionals and millennials that are spoiled for choice of social events on meetup.com and facebook invites?

Sand, sun, surf and more bloody sand!

Posted on 10/04/2017 by Chris Stevenson

The Minigaine yesterday was an interesting event. As someone who comes to rogaining from a bushwalking rather than a running or orienteering background, I always look towards the minigaines with some trepidation. To do well in a minigaine you have to jog a reasonable portion of the event and being fat and middle aged with a bad back, jogging is not my favourite pastime, although my physio likes it because it keeps her in business.

Before I left yesterday I told my Mum, the only one awake in my household, that success could be measured by two things; beating Julian Ledger and doing more than 18km in three hours. My partner John Clancy and I did 19.7kms in three hours so that was good. The Julian bit I am not discussing because my PTSD has not yet subsided.

I made a deliberate decision to enter yesterday’s event as a team because I recall from previous events the competitiveness of the individuals. (Perhaps that is why they can’t find a friend to be their partner.) To put it in context, the average score of the individuals was 1,390 whereas the average score in the teams was 855. Aside from scoring better, the obvious advantage to having a partner is having someone to blame when things don’t go as planned. Everyone knows I would have come first, if my partner hadn’t been slowing me down.

I love rogaining for the spirit of discovering unnamed creeks and rarely viewed mountain vistas, none of which I was expecting to experience in and around Cronulla. To be honest, I enjoyed yesterday’s event more than I thought I would. The sand dunes on the northern edge of the course were a surprise. I felt like I was in the Sahara for about an hour of yesterday’s event. I was half expecting a camel to appear over the horizon at any moment.

The sand was effective in slowing down the runners and thereby levelling the playing field, but the downside was that I ended up with so much sand in my shoes that I had to stop and clean it out. While I emptied my shoes I was too impatient to empty my socks and completed the event with both socks full of sand. The result of this was that my sand-filled sock ended up bruising my big toe and I will probably lose the nail, again. Typically rogainers toenails are not pretty sights and mine are no exception. No amount of nail polish can beautify my feet, but fortunately I am male so I rarely wear open-toed shoes in any case.

The other thing to note about yesterday’s event is that a good score was to be had without going to the northern section of the course. In fact, the person who caused my PTSD probably beat me by not going any further north than control 86. At my level of ability, I pretty much had to decide to go south or go north and I decided to go north to all those juicy 100 pointers, but in hindsight that was probably a mistake. At my speed, sticking to the burbs may have been more productive.

At the end of the day, my nemesis got 1270, which placed 10th in the individual men’s super veterans. My 1210 got me a third in the men’s veterans teams. So it pays to have friends.

Thanks to everyone for yesterday. I had a really good time and I will reflect fondly on the event once my PTSD subsides.

P.S. My partner for the Aust Champs is Julian. You know what they say, if you can’t beat them join them.

4 Responses to Sand, sun, surf and more bloody sand!

  1. Sylvia 11/04/2017 at 8:13 am says:

Thanks for that entertaining blog. I’d like a partner who would do the second half.

  • Carolyn Rigby 11/04/2017 at 5:16 pm says:

Great read – and especially for someone who couldn’t be there. Really enjoyable to be “inside someone’s head”.

  • Mal 12/04/2017 at 5:59 am says:

Who’d have thought you were competitive Chris? Lol. Great commentary!

  • Trevor Gollan 13/04/2017 at 5:42 pm says:

It’s not really fair to compare average scores of the teams vs individuals, because there were lots of teams with kids, ice cream stops and big smiles at the Finish.

The individuals – nearly all of them – looked shagged out at the end and there were very few happy faces. They’ll probably feel better after a week or two.