G'day Rogainers,

NSW Rogaining eNewsletter, 30th May 2023

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Welcome to Rogaining NSW which is the occasional newsletter of the NSW Rogaining Association. Our Newsletter this month is jam packed with interesting contributions from a wide spectrum of our Rogaining community. Graeme Hill reflects on the wildlife he has encountered in his numerous rogaines while three of the top Australian rogainers recount their experiences in one of the toughest and challenging rogaines in a long while. Tristan White has penned a short report on our most recent rogaine at Stroud. Early experiences of some of our seasoned rogainers, Pam Montgomery and Martin Dearnley, reflect on what hooked them on their first encounter with rogaining.

This newsletter is only possible through the great contributions of those who enjoy this wonderful sport. Thank you to them for what they have contributed. Please think about the various incidents and encounters which have occurred to you in your rogaining which will make interesting reading for the rest of our great Rogaining community. All contributions are very welcome.


The Things You See While Rogaining: by Graeme Hill

We are blessed in our country to have such a variety of flora and fauna and through our rogaining and orienteering sports we see how fortunate we are.

I had my first orienteering event in 1989 and from that day onwards have experienced the beauty of our countryside over many parts of Australia. From mountainous terrain to coastal beaches and sand dunes, from all types of forests to more barren country in the outback, from creek crossings to wading through marshes…. we have experience it all.

But today I’ll touch on all the animals I have encountered while rogaining and orienteering. You may be able to add to my list from your personal experience, especially if you have rogained overseas, but for me this is what I have seen:

Let’s start with kangaroos…. I recall running in an event in the New England area and looking across to an adjacent mountain and it seemed to be moving such was the abundance of kangaroos hopping around. No wonder our visitors from overseas are intrigued about seeing kangaroos hopping around.

Then there was the koala at the start of an event near Ballarat sitting peacefully in a tree chewing on gum leaves - the only time I have seen on while orienteering. Add to that the wombat I came face to face within the Southern Highlands. He stopped and stared at me and then waddled into a log. And what about the emus in the sand dunes near Beachport in South Australia! I must have disturbed a family of them as I came out of a forested area to a clearing and they all started to madly run backwards and forwards. But I am still to see my first dingo, platypus, Tasmanian devil, crocodile, quokka, bandicoot, numbat or cassowary, let alone a Tasmanian tiger which is even more unlikely!

There were the farm and domestic animals that we all encounter mainly while running across fences on farms. For me these have included horses, cows, alpacas (behind fences in a distance), sheep, goats, dogs, cats, roosters, hens, rabbits and more. I even caught up with a wild pig in a forest - fortunately he just stared at me, oinked and turned away. And on more than one occasion a fox - just trotting along behind a kangaroo.

Some people have seen camels while we were orienteering in Broken Hill, but I can’t add camels to my list. Or snakes, thank goodness, while orienteering - not while orienteering or rogaining anyway. While course setting and field working, yes. I even stepped on a red belly on a golf course. Gave us both the shock if our lives. He flipped up and slithered down a hole beside the footpath the stuck his head up from the hole.

Oh, and the bird life. What an abundance of birds we have. Apart from the emus and chickens I have already mentioned I have seen a couple of lyre birds, satin bower birds nesting surrounded with blue pegs and any other blue items they could find, sea gulls, ibis and of course a lot of other common birds.

One of the strangest sights was a pair of echidnas nestled into the ground at Wyangala Dam. Also, the odd goanna and countless frilled neck lizards. And a shark offshore that was pointed out to my rogaining partner and myself and some whales in the distance.

And finally, how many animals or insects have you been bitten by while rogaining in the bush? The ones I am sure of are leeches, ticks, wasps (a swarm of them), mosquitos, especially along Toongabbie Creek, bull ants, march flies in the Snowy Mountains and probably other insects or spiders that have left their mark or swell without my ever finding out what bit me.

And I can nearly add another bitey. Shortly after my young son, Andrew, and I started orienteering, we entered a night even on the Macquarie University/ South Turramurra map. Andrew was still very young and we used to run together at night events. Before we set off we were warned about a savage dog who had bitten one of the competitors in the bush behind a row of houses. Towards the end of our run, Andrew was leading when he suddenly came to an abrupt stop. I also stopped and staring right at us was what looked like a savage dog. We could see his bright beady eyes and his teeth and were waiting for him to start growling or attack us. But he didn’t, and I said to Andrew “he’s not moving”. We shone our torches at him and then saw it was a child’s rocking horse which had frightened the daylights out of us!

Every Stroud Has a Silver Lining: By Tristan White.

Whilst there may not have been a cloud in the sky all afternoon and evening of the first fully bush rogaine this year, many rogainers were faced with the unexpected challenge of having to run or powerwalk many Myalls on tracks. The silver lining of this was that it allowed competitors to appreciate the never-before-rogained area.

The approximately 60km 12hr course was cleared by five teams, including overall winners Xanda & Ivan, who managed to get all 3,540 points on offer in less than nine hours! And also a shout out to overall 6hr winners, Warren Rolfe, David Bristow, and Colm Connolly, who collected just about two thirds of the points at 2,210 points.

We thank first-time organiser Mat Collin and his merry team of volunteers who made the mammoth effort to find, map, set and then cater for this event!

ACT 24 hour Rogaining Championships: by Ronnie Taib

There were quite a few hills but overall, not a crazily physical course. The omnipresent grass tufts were probably the main physical challenge (after the weather) making for a slow course.

As usual, Dave performed impeccable navigation especially on the subtle controls while I was keeping track of time/distance a bit more. He was also very supportive when I decided to pull out, which is when you know you have a great partner.

The 24h format is the real thing for me. It balances physical ability, navigation, strategic planning, resilience and teamwork like no shorter duration does. Whatever your skills or level, whether you come back for a sleep or not, this is the best format to enjoy our great landscapes.

In all honesty, the ACT champs were a show of resolve rather than commonsense, given the awful conditions, but it was heartening to see so many teams on the course through it all.

ACT 24 hour Rogaining Championships : By David Williams

The event was a tale of two halves and would have been a perfectly ok 12hr event. Rain started about 11:30pm before really setting in at about 3:30am. Temps kept dropping gradually even after the "sun" came up which was unusual so didn't offer any reprieve. By then we were pretty wet through, and the wind was picking up too. We were struggling to warm up even on the hills which is never a good sign. I was debating right up to the start how much warm stuff to take, tossing up whether to take a light or heavy fleece, and a spare thermal. In the end, given the forecast, I decided better too hot than too cold and took the heavy fleece and a spare warm thermal. I was very thankful I did as by late evening I had everything on (1x light thermal, 1x heavy thermal, 1x heavy fleece, thermal longs, overpants and raincoat) and was still struggling to stay warm. It was a good example of the dangerous combo of rain+wind+cool temps since we've been in several rogaines with much colder temps but no rain or wind (ACT champs 22, Aus Champs 21, ACT champs 2013)

It made for some challenging nav even without the low flying cloud reducing visibility to a few metres and driving rain in your face. The relief isn't that sharp, and the gullies are often subtle. Hiding flags in epicormic regrowth is not cool though - as far as possible the flag shouldn't be obscured by the object it's hung on so that it is only visible from one direction. I got in the habit pretty quickly of looking backwards to make sure I hadn't walked straight past it.

Ronnie and I strike a good balance. We rarely seem to be down at the same time so we can take over from each other when feeling a bit tired or need to eat. But generally, we both check each other’s nav. Ronnie has great stamina, a good sense of humour to keep the mood and moral up, and an excellent analytical, problem-solving mind which works well under pressure, especially useful for replanning and adapting our route on the fly.

I agree with what Ronnie said about what was special about this event. I'll also add the following - it's only in the longer events (24 and 12hrs) that you can finally escape the safety nets and handrails of trails, tracks and other artificial landmarks, and really start to navigate. Out there, your ability to read the map, compass and natural landscape will be properly tested. Of course, coming from a bushwalking background, I'm completely biased towards the longer formats that hold true to the original 24 hour cross country bushwalk from which rogaining was born!

Course Map for the ACT 8/24 Hour Rogaining Championship on 15th-16th April, 2023

We did a longish loop in the Southeast corner which had good points. We had to drop an optional loop North of the HH because I got too cold. Luckily it would not have changed ranks. So, overall, we mostly stuck to our plan, which was unexpected given the conditions. We had as good gear as it gets and put our rain pants and jackets on before midnight. It was a good call as it protected us from the high wind as we climbed the Southern hills. However, the rain developed over the morning and i was wet by 4-5am. This eventuality got to me, and I had to pull out to avoid full hypothermia by 10:30. I'm not a big fan of Alpine country but I reckon there were a few beautiful pockets and without the weather some views would have been fantastic. The controls were well spread out giving a few options and some more density around the HH for the 8h course, so that was all nice. A few controls had been hung out of sight however, which was a shame. Some controls offered difficult navigation in the flatter areas.

ACT 24 hour Rogaining Championships: by Xanda Kolesnikow

We aimed to do most of the SW part of the course in a clockwise direction, enabling us to use the Tabletop trail for the latter part of the event. In the end we had to cut the checkpoints North of the Eucumbene River (#48, #89, #59, #79) due to not being able to cross the river, as well as a few along the Tabletop trail at the end (#64, #74, #85, #43) due to slower-than-expected progress from the weather. Two notable mishaps occurred for us during this event: the first was Ivan ripping the mesh in his shoe from heel to toe less than 3 hours into the event. We wrapped my snake bandage around it and somehow it held together for the rest of the event. I'm honestly not sure how he managed it and when it occurred, I thought it was inevitable we would have to head back to the HH early. The second was me getting half-way across the very-full Eucumbene river near #48, only to start cramping up due to the cold, being forced to take a very unlucrative route along the Southern side of the river between #66 and #104.

This was the coldest rogaine I've participated in, and it certainly impacted us. For us, the rain mostly held off until midnight, and then increased steadily until the end of the event. Luckily most of the controls were not on the high ridges, where it was exposed to the wind and the fog was thickest. Control #70 on Tabletop Mountain was an exception, where we had to be less than a couple metresfrom the checkpoint to see it. Probably the coldest part of the event was around 8AM at the Tabletop trail ridgetop where the wind had picked-up and it was sleeting.

For clothing, I wore a long sleeve, rain jacket and trousers for most of the first half of the event and then added a thermal top, po lyester jacket, and rain pants, which I wore from about midnight onwards. Also, I had a pair of polyester gloves, and wore rubber washing-up gloves over the top as a water-proofing layer. I remained dry on top, but my legs were wet for most of the second half of the event due to walking through the wet undergrowth. Overall, I would say I was just warm enough for 3/4 of the event and got pretty chilled for the last 1/4.

It was a well-set course with a good density of checkpoints for a longer event and set in such a way that you had to be confident in your off-trail navigation in order to obtain a high score. The terrain was classic bush-rogaine territory, with mostly open terrain and nothing too dense to traverse. However, the open grassy sections were quite lumpy, which made running a challenge.

Ivan is a much more precise navigator than me, and for these events he does the majority of the compass work. He's also a shift-worker, which means I can rely on him being sharp for the night-navigation, and I try to take the reins a bit more during the day. Ivan has an unwaveringly calm and focused demeanour, which makes him the optimal rogaine partner. There's no way I'm getting through a 24-hour event without him!

The 24-hour event allows you to totally immerse yourself in the night-navigation experience. There's nothing quite like the 12-hour night section in the middle of the event, where you are entirely focused on solidly navigating from point-to-point. I think there's something quite therapeutic about being engaged in an activity like that for an extended amount of time, and I always feel very mentally refreshed after a 24-hour rogaine!

Moonlight and Madness: by Pam Montgomery

One of my best memories of rogaining would be of the first rogaine I ever went in, over 30 years ago.

A 24 hour event at Wingello, a small town South of Sydney, farmland and pine forest, with a railway line running through the town.

Back then, there were only 24hour events, except for the 6 hour Paddy Pallin, if I remember correctly. Mass starts were at 12midday Saturday’s, finishing at 12 midday the next day.

Hubby Robert and I bribed our three kids (aged 8 to 11) with going for the whole 24 hours, and they agreed. (terrible parents we were!!) Anyhow, we set out into lovely rolling countryside, no problems. Had a few short rest stops, then went to climb over a wire fence, only to have Dad’s map quiver in his hand and he let out a big yelp! It was electrified!! That got a few laughs I can tell you!

Kept going until dusk, through pine forests, plenty of tracks in there where we got a bit mislaid (geographically challenged, beg pardon), then decided we would head back to the Hash House for some warm food and drinks and a bit of a rest. So Dad says, we can go straight there via this bit of a blue section, the water should only be shallow? Off we go, and the water gets deeper and deeper, “It’s okay for you Dad”, says the eldest, Ann, “you are taller than we are, we are nearly swimming!!”

Turning around and shining his torch on her, we see the water is up to her waist! (Didn’t have the torches then that there are today.) Press on and finally get back to the old hut that served as the HH, change into dry clothes, feet up and lovely hot soup to warm our insides, great stuff!

Suddenly the two girls call out “Chris can’t have his $10, he has gone to sleep!” A voice comes from under his beanie (he has pulled it down over his face) “No I’m just resting my eyes!” That became a favourite saying in our household.

Setting off again, to get to our next checkpoint we had to walk through the town and cross over the railway line, no trains around. The night was beautiful and quiet, a bit of mist around. Up over rolling hills, where you could see for miles over paddocks in fantastic moonlight! It was a full moon and the mist had gone. Totally awesome experience, fully enjoyed by all five of us! Well, suffice to say, they all well and truly earned their $10 each, because they kept going right through to the 12-midday finish! And were justifiably proud of themselves, as were we. And yes, they came back for more over the years!

It is a great sport that takes you to some beautiful places and tests you in more ways than one.

It All Starts Somewhere: by Martin Dearnley

It was something new, and a discovery I didn’t see coming.

There were about 140 Teams and 340 participants at the ANZAC Rogaine near Bulahdelah in 2005. Teams were spread across three events – 24 hours, 15 in 24 hours and a 6 hour. With the hash house next to a country racecourse, and the flags hung across what appeared to be a state forest, we enjoyed fine weather and an excellent course.

For us, this was a VERY special rogaine – it was our first. We were a team of five novices which included my next-door neighbour - an 11-year-old Tristan White plus his mother Karen, and two of my children David (19) and Louise (15).

Having recently worked out that the red needle on the compass pointed north we planned a 12 km route to which we added another 7km during the event.

For most novices, 6 hours is a LONG time to be on your feet – especially if your usual sport is racing a flat-water kayak. But sore feet and dehydration headaches are soon forgotten as the mind wrestles with the navigational challenges of finding the next control and selecting the best route. As we moved further out onto the course more time was spent following spurs and ridges instead of marked tracks. This was a treasure hunt for grown-ups.

There were no complaints from the team as we concluded the event in darkness. It was fun! Who could complain about the hot food and a 5th placing from 44 teams?

Now, most novices don’t come back to another event after their first rogaine – but we did. Tristan White is known for his rogaine newsletters and top ten results. We have also set courses and run events.

Upcoming Rogaines: by Salomé Hussein

Stu and I are honoured to finally present to you, two back-to-back Rogaining events in June:

  • June 17th-18th: The 60th 6-hour Paddy Pallin
  • June 24th: The inaugural 4-hour Shoalhaven Paddy Paddlin' Rowgaine – in collaboration with the Festival of Canoe and Kayak (F.O.C.K.)

Aye! Currambene - Click here to enter

This year’s Paddy Pallin is in Currambene State Forest, sandwiched between Nowra State Forest and Jervis Bay National Park. An incredibly popular area for mountain biking, with abundant tracks and more than a few engineered obstacle courses, there’s still plenty of ground to enjoy on foot. In fact, the vast majority of the bush is easily walkable open forest. However, the difficulty in traversal increases radially from the hash house (how convenient). The inevitable few aiming to clear the course may be in for some nasty setbacks at the fringes of the map. The gentle terrain presents its own navigation challenges as well. With contours at 5m, you can expect features to be subtle enough to catch the unwary speedster off guard (our new word of the day was ‘re-entrant’, because ‘watercourse’ implies they’d be more helpful). Plus, those aforementioned bike tracks can either help or hurt you – there’s no way we were able to capture and map all of them. More may have appeared by the time you read this!

From the get-go, we wanted the PP event to be a bit of a party. It's a 60th anniversary after all. First North Sydney scouts are catering, with an optional fancy dinner planned the night before for those who'd like to camp and socialize. We'll bring the same fire drums as we had at Newnes (the PP from John Havrenak and me). There's the possibility of other family friendly activities courtesy of the scouts, and a guest speaker. Phil Witten has also schemed up a practice course for people to sharpen their skills before the big event. As in recent events, we’re hoping for a strong turnout in the scout category (1NS would like some actual competition this time). We’re making this hash house the place to be that weekend. Don’t miss out.

As an aside, both Paddy Pallin and the Paddy Paddlin' Row-gaine were set from the water. All of our trips to Currambene so far have resulted in getting thoroughly soaked. However, there is a redeeming factor…. We're pleased to announce that the Paddy Pallin course comes with a Leech Free Guarantee. That's right friends, despite practically swimming through the forest, the only blood we lost was to the occasional (equally soggy looking) mozzie, and the more than occasional log.

The mandatory “wrecked vehicle control”, featuring evidence of the first and last time Stu convinced me to ride his son’s mountain bike.

Upcoming Rogaines: Paddy Paddlin’ ROW-gaine: by Salomé Hussein - Click here to enter

That puntastic title is courtesy of Dylan Jones, of Valley Outdoor, and Finn Warren, Stu’s middle child. This event will maintain the collective goodwill and mildly inappropriate good humou r of all the F.O.C.K.ers that have contributed. If other rogaines are made of sweat, tears, and leeches, this one is made of duct-tape, coloured pencil, chocolate eggs, and rainbow unicorn onesies. You should expect the map, the controls, and our notes to deviate from the classic rogaine.

The last boat-oriented event NSWRA ran was the 2019 Lake Macquarie event, which I remember fondly. The 2018-2022 strategic plan expresses the NSWRA committee had a desire to incorporate more multi-sport activities, but one can imagine many reasons (mainly of the flammable and contagious variety) that this didn’t eventuate over the following months/years. We hope the learning and good outcomes from this event will encourage more like it.

Left is the little known and invasive Easter Unicorn which lays her eggs in riverside cliff faces and sunken forests.

While the festival camping is around Bendeela, those familiar with that stretch of river know it to be the antithesis of a good rogaine map. There would have been precisely two route choices: upstream or downstream. We went a fair way from the festival itself to offer you not only more choice, but also some amazing wilderness, striking terrain, and the haunting atmosphere of sunken forests.

Because that pristine wilderness is worth keeping that way, this is a purely boat-based event. No disembarking unless you need to use one of the abundant campsite loos on the course. We also are keeping the boat ramp low-traffic. That particular constraint has resulted in some interesting logistics. One is the cap on boats, both hired and personal, the other is how people get there. Rolling starts and bus transport from the festival ground were the solution our team came up with; no participant vehicles/trailers at the actual Hash House. Yes, unfortunately, that does mean your prized, hand carved Holmrygr would be loaded and lashed onto one of the festival company’s trailers, so opt for a hire canoe or your scout hall’s river-rashed Bushranger instead.

This event will also have 1st North Sydney catering after the race concludes, which gives volunteers time to deal with the last interesting part of this rogaine. We’ll be manually tallying scores! No navlights here; we’re going old school punches. Hanging flags the day before will be the first time I’ve actually seen these in-person. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’ll appreciate the novelty.

Pictured are the Row-gaine setting assistants, Raph (11) and Finn (16) Warren. Sort of like having minions, only the minions were basically smaller versions of Felonious Gru.

Afterword: And Then There Were Two

Now that I've been on my soapbox about how absolutely amazing these events are, and how you can't possibly miss out on them, I should probably address some elephants. Even to those who regularly volunteer, and thus already relate to our unusual desire for Warm, Fuzzy Feelings and high fives, the obvious question is– are you two out of your mind? Well, yes, probably, but believe it or not, this all started out making sense.

When then-president Trevor expressed in a newsletter that the Festival of Canoe and Kayak (F.O.C.K.) organizers wanted a Paddlegaine, I immediately reached out to my kayaking/scouting buddy, Stu. Big thumbs up there; we had grand ideas and good intentions.

Early discussions with the committee made it seem like we collectively wanted to avoid putting too much time or energy into it though. Not for lack of enthusiasm, but because it was so close to arguably our most popular event, the Paddy Pallin. We elected not to use navlights and avoid using our usual rogaining volunteers, just to avoid stressing the system. Early on, there was even the sentiment that it shouldn't formally be considered a NSWRA event and fall fully under the remit of F.O.C.K. (this changed when we learned it’d be easier to get land permissions if we’re a non-for-profit entity, so we asked nicely to be a website-calendar-official rogaine event).

A few emails later, and it emerged there'd been no takers for Paddy Pallin yet, which was a higher priority. My cursory Google exploration of the Shoalhaven and Kangaroo Valley, and a hunt through our archives, revealed there hadn't been a rogaine in this area in yonks. I gently broached the following with Stu. We could pick an area that overlapped with the Paddlegaine. We'd make use of the same road trips to set either course, dividing our time between bush and water. The Paddlegaine is a 4 hour event, so we'd be effectively setting a 10 hour event. One caveat for this endeavour would be that someone else had to be coordinator. Those of you who've done it know, the coordinating role is not "fun." You get all the emails, do all the paperwork, and potentially see the least daylight. It's project management. We, in tandem with F.O.C.K. were already responsible for that event’s paperwork and planning. Surprisingly, Stu agreed. Trevor also tentatively agreed, then went about finding a Paddy Pallin coordinator for us.

In the coming weeks, it became apparent that the National Parks surrounding the river had not fully recovered from the 2019-2020 Black Summer. Walking through them was, in short, Really F.O.C.K'n Unpleasant. On a family trip down south, Stu drove by Nowra and Currambene State Forests, noted they were much friendlier, and we finally found our Paddy Pallin basemap… a fair way East of our other event. Thus began our descent to madness. I won't wax poetic on our next set of challenges. A few unresponsive Forestry personnel, many landowner hunts, some education on the term "biobank", and a change in organisation … Stu and I took on the Event Coordinator job! *Deep Breath* We're still friends. In fact, there’s one grand prize I’ve already gotten from this absurd spot I’ve put us in, and it’s that I’ve found an incredibly persistent rogaining partner.

Brett Davis lamented in “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Rogainer”, the ideal is someone with “EXACTLY the same standards as yourself.” I’d have considered that impossible for someone as mutable as me– my only true speciality is rapid adjustment and decisions when presented with new standards. We apparently both have this knack, and it serves us during rogaines, on rivers, in moonboots (S tu managed to break his foot halfway through the setting weekends), through easter egg hunts, and while chasing down park rangers.

Once these weekends are behind us, we have our sights set on something peaceful, easy, and low-commitment– Navshield.

Missing Trophies

Help! The NSWRA Paddy Pallin Women’s Open and 1st Waitara U23 trophies have gone missing – they were last seen in 2019 and 2020 respectively (see photos below). If you know where they are, please contact Mark Vonhuben (NSWRA Equipment Officer) on mvonhuben@cochlear.com to arrange to get them to the upcoming event.

A Call to Arms for the Aus Champs at Goobang, 30-Sep - Click here to read more

Course setters David Williams & Ronnie Taib have explored and set most of the course for this years champs near Parkes. David reports that it is "great rogaining country ... my sort of course." Which means it is pleasant walking, and involves lots of off-track navigation.

This will certainly be a top-class event, but we need a catering team and also someone with 4WD to manage water drops. How about you and your friends step up?

Let Trevor Gollan know how you can help (AusChamps2023@gmail.com)

The hash house site for the Aus Champs

Event Calendar for 2023

Further details on https://nswrogaining.org/coming-events/

Thank you to all those people who, when asked, stepped up and sent me articles to include in this bumper Newsletter. They are Ronnie Taib, David Williams, Xanda Kolesnikow, Tristan White, Graeme Hill, Pam Montgomery, Martin Dearnley and Salomé Hussein.

Thank you to Tristan White who obtained the reports on the ACT Championships. Thank you to Graham Field for encouragement.

It’s you who make this newsletter full of interest so don’t wait to be tapped on the shoulder’ send me reports, points of interest or just observations on what you find interesting about the great sport of Rogaining. Email b_inglis@bigpond.com

Dale Thompson, Editor

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