Are you a serious rogainer?

Are You a Serious Rogainer

Are you a Serious Rogainer?

Well here is your opportunity to find out by answering twenty simple  questions.

All questions are multiple choice, just choose the single answer that best fits you.

Nobel Nyctophobia

Julian Ledger – 6 July 2019

So swiftly the sun sets in the sky

You rise up and say goodbye to no one

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread


Dance to the nightingale tune

Bird fly high by the light of the moon


Sometimes my burden is more than I can

It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin there

Not dark yet

How many roads must a man walk down

Before you call him a man?

The answer, my friend is blowin’ in the

The answer is blowin in the wind

Blowin’ in the wind

Shadows are falling and I have been here
all day

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting

Well my sense of humanity is going down
the drain

Behind every beautiful thing, there’s
been some kind of pain

Let the wind blow low, let the wind blow

Under the red sky full

I know it looks like I’m movin’ but I’m
standin’ still

Every nerve in my body is so naked and

Not dark yet

Went into the land of the midnight sun

Searchin high, searchin low

Searchin everywhere I know

Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade

So many roads, so much at stake

So many dead ends, I’m at the edge of
the lake

Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take

To find dignity


It’s getting dark too dark to see

Hello darkness my old friend

Darkness at the break of noon

How does it feel

How does it feel

To be on your own

With no direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone

Like a rolling stone

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

”Twas in another lifetime

One of toil and blood

When blackness was a virtue

The road was full of mud

I came in from the wilderness

A creature void of form

Come in she said I’ll give ya

Shelter from the storm

Shelter from the storm

Midnight awaits the 24 Hour rogainer

The bridge at midnight trembles

The wind howls like a hammer

The night blows cold and rainy

Love minus zero, no limit

I’m searching for phrases

To sing your praises

I need to tell someone

It’s soon after midnight

And my day has just begun

Bob Dylan

Nobel prize for literature

Bob Dylan receiving his Nobel Award for Literature

My Wrap of the 2019 Paddlegaine and being on the right side of the Ledger

I was really looking forward to the Paddlegaine and I am very happy I competed and I will remember the event for the rest of my life.

I am a semi regular kayaker and have access to a number of different kayaks. Unfortunately, none of the kayaks are racing kayaks, but I had a choice of:

  • 4m flat water fibreglass sit-in (I have two of these)
  • 5.1m sea capable fibreglass touring kayak sit-in
  • 2.5m plastic kayak sit-on

The immediate temptation was to go for the longest kayak available since speed on the water, all other things being equal, is a product of water line length. We had already been told that there would be some controls that require you to get out of the kayak and there is nothing quick or easy about getting out of a sit in kayak. Also, the longer the kayak the less capable they will be in tight manoeuvres. In the end I decided to go for the 4m flat water fibreglass sit-in since this should have yielded the best combination of water line speed versus manoeuvrability. The other consideration was that I had bought it 2nd hand for $80 so I was no too worried if it got banged about jumping in and out.

As it turned out this was probably the wrong choice. The wind and waves were quite strong at several stages of the event and it was a real fight to keep the rudderless flat water kayak above the water and on course against a maelstrom of wind, chop and tide. Having looked at my GPS track I was quite pleased with how straight my lines were given this challenge.

Me in my chosen kayak for the event. On this occasion I had my own navigator on board.

My other pre-event consideration was do I lend my spare kayak to my usual team mate Julian Ledger. Julian is only 2 points behind me in the 2019 Series Point Score I would never forgive myself if he beat me in the series point score using my own kayak (we are teaming up for the Socialgaine). In any case, in a moment of weakness or insanity, I decided to loan Julian my 2nd, 4m flat water kayak for the event. The race was on.

When I arrived at the event the first thing to notice was the range of kayaks on offer. I was looking very jealously at some of the sit on and sit in racing kayaks knowing that my only chance of beating them would be if some very tight turning was required. I also looked across to the hire kayaks which were very functional and practical but short plastic kayaks and slow and there was no way that I should be beaten by one of these.

Another consideration was the promenade rogaine. I had assumed that this would be a 5-10 minute frolic along some grassy foreshores. Instead it turned out to be, for me anyway, over an hour of slogging it out through bush and hills. In fact having picked up my map the promenade rogaine looked very like a Sydney Summer Series orienteering event.

The event started and Julian I had both decided to avoid any possible traffic at the early controls and go straight across the bay to do the promenade rogaine. Paddling across the bay was quite slow and difficult in the wind, chop and tide. I arrived at the other side about 10 seconds ahead of Julian and took off for my promenade rogaine. I went anti-clockwise around the course while Julian went clockwise so my next indication about how I was travelling was going to be at the half-way point of the run. On the way I missed control number 12. I saw a sign but no control and I was not going to waste time over a 10 pointer. As it turned out the control was just a little bit further up the hill. I also made a really stupid mistake leaving control 73. I went up the hill to the north and got to the top before I realised I should have been heading west (Doh). Julian and I passed each other at control 10, which I figured was pretty much half way, but I knew that Julian would not miss control 12 so even if we arrived back at the kayaks at the same time he would be 10 points ahead of me. My next indication of progress was going to be when I got back to my kayak. Would Julian’s kayak still be there?

When I eventually got back to my kayak I was a bit panicked to find that Julian’s kayak was no longer there. As I grabbed my kayak and headed back to the water I quickly scanned the horizon and I could not see him. Bugger! He was now at least 10 points and several minutes ahead of me. I jumped in my kayak and started paddling furiously towards control 101. By the time I was about 1/3 of the way there I realised I could see Julian’s (my) kayak in the distance and I figured that he was now 10 points and possibly 4-6 minutes ahead of me.

There is nothing quite as motivating as trying to beat a good mate, so I paddled as hard as I could and I realised that I was slowly gaining on Julian. To be fair I have done much more kayaking than Julian in recent years and I had gone to the effort to have a few training runs before the event. By the time we got to 101 Julian was only 76 seconds ahead of me. I passed Julian on the traverse from 101 to 62 and that was the last time I saw him for an hour. It is very hard to look directly behind you on a kayak without dropping pace so I just focussed on doing my own thing and paddling as fast as I could.

After 62, I went and did 20, 64 and 22. I then decided to do 36 and 90. Pre-event I had decided that the out and back from 36 to 90 was not going to be worthwhile, but having experienced the swell, chop and wind in the middle of the bay, I realised that this would be quick, flat water kayaking which was ideally suited to me and my kayak. As it turned out this leg was probably the difference between Julian’s and my course. Julian picked up 61 but in a similar time I had picked up 36 and 90.

After 90 and 36 I went to 74, 28 and 52. At 52 I had a very difficult decision to make. I had 28 minutes left and I felt like I could get to the hash house in that time, but did I have time to get 41, 27 or 40 on the way back? Having been late back on a number of rogaines I know it is not much fun, so I headed straight back to the hash house. By this stage I could see Julian and he could see me and I was confident that if I turned for the hash house he would do so as well.

As it turned out the run back to the hash house was much quicker then expected and I arrived there 15 minutes early, kicking myself that I had made a bad decision and forgone at least 40 points.

After the event finished and the points were tallied I found my self 50 points ahead of my friend and rival Julian and I finished a creditable 17th place out of the 58 competitors in the singles event.

The other thing to note about the Paddlegaine is that the basemap was credited to Russell Rigby who passed away recently. Russell was a fine map maker and orienteer and was of great assistance to me when I was trying to configure RouteGadget. Russell’s widow, Carolyn, was at the event helping out on the weekend. Thanks Russell and condolences to Carolyn from the Rogaining community.

Many thanks to Geoff and Margaret Peel for putting on a great event. The event was very well organised and the course well set. There were lots of volunteers on hand for every task and I had a great time. I feel a bit sorry for everyone who did not come along as they missed out on a really memorable occasion.

2013 – A great year for Rogaining in New South Wales

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”

Julian Ledger

Welcome to Rogaining – 2014 style

There’s a large bubble in my compass which has appeared from nowhere over summer.  However as the first two events of the year have both been on tracks it has not yet been an issue.

The Boardwalk Bonanza Minigaine on the 29 March was at 1:10,000 scale and the detail of the Orienteering maps was appreciated as competitors zoomed (at least those doing some running) around the map which took in Boronia Park, East and North Ryde. There were plenty of pockets of bush and no shortage of contours. Course setters Jeremy Fowler and Steve Ryan had done an excellent job and there was sufficient route choice and variety to keep everyone thinking. Winner Andrew Hill got the lot (2750) with 6 minutes to spare and 4 minutes ahead of 2nd placed Richard Mountstephens. Outstanding!  Personally just made it with 30 seconds up my sleeve and many less points.

I only made one real error which arose due to avoiding the NPWS closed track. I cut off Pittwater Road too early and ending up squelching across mangroves to join the boardwalk. With unfortunate timing I was met by President Gill running past – “it’s an on track event Mr Ledger”! Gill, our brave and fearless leader who would not dob in a mate, was first woman and sixth overall with score of 2720.

Somewhat distracting was being repeatedly either overtaken or met by the winning women’s team, Jess Baker and Mel Criniti. They would go past then scamper off to get some additional control and then be going past again always cheerful, brightly coloured in orange and blue.

The event was well subscribed and any concerns that numbers would be down with it being out of the Orienteering Summer Series this year were not realised. In fact with the Summer Series just finished last week there seemed to be even more lycra, strider and 45 minute runner types eating up the ground.

I sometimes smile at the meeting of the social rogaining team and the serious orienteer at the same time and place – usually a control. The rogaining team is rather pleased and even surprised to have found the flag and this is an excuse for a rest. One team member might be starting a bit of lunch, another explaining the features of a rare orchid and a third disappeared in the bushes for a call of nature. Associated infants may be jumping around (first hour) or looking for a carry (end of the event). Meanwhile the orienteer has already, within 50 metres of the control, sorted out something called an ‘exit strategy’. Then on punching is already balanced with weight on the push off foot to take them running in the direction of the next control. The only pause might be to double check the punch has registered as they miss the audible confirmation of the orienteering Sportident system.

Former Australian Rogaining Champion Mike Hotchkis was there and posted an excellent score. His wife Debbie, a more social rogainer, forgot to register the time when her team left and spent the event trying to work out when they had started. They failed and were late back. A highlight for Debbie was being invited into somebody’s garden which she said was remarkable. Meanwhile things might have been a bit tetchy comparing route chose at the Shingler household where both partners scored over 2000 points in individual efforts but with Paula just 30 points ahead of Mark. Just wait until the kids grow even bigger with those genes they’ll be fast for sure.

 If the Minigaine was steamy and the vegetation lush the Metrogaine – Hornsbygaine on February 9th was hot and dry. Some said too hot, hold it later but in fact you never know – had it been on the following Sunday there was a torrential day. The conditions are the same for all and you have to adapt.

Ted Woodley is to be congratulated for the course – nearly all in the bush. This was Ted’s first Metrogaine after terrific service setting the Minigaine for the past three years and building that event’s great reputation.

It was very warm and I had to slow down to deal with it and even took the opportunity for a swim at the delightful rockpool near # 71 taking care to keep head out of water. This brought body temperature down for a while but climbing out of the valley twice soon got me hot again.

It was a tricky question as usual knowing what to leave out. Partner Anne Newman who has a habit of building up speed as an event progresses was striding on as we struggled up the return track which was rough and tough – we had been warned at the start. Past # 83 we speeded up and after some confusion at the last control made it back with three minutes to spare. Super fit Anne had not broken a sweat the whole way.

The use of electronic controls and flags has made a big difference to the administration (managed these days by ever competent Belinda Mclean and Anne Bickle) and now we are getting used to very quick results at the event and on the website. In the good old days we had clues, multiple choice, historical features, debates, ambiguity, letter box removed by a resident (what colour was it if it had still been there!), signs taken down between the vetting and the event, etc etc. I kind of miss that whimsical nature of at least the Metrogaine. Keep in mind the big amount of extra work for course setter, flag hanger and picker upper now that every control must be hung and collected. We are all grateful for your efforts.

  Before the next event on 10 May at Gibraltar Rocks near Jenolan I’m going to invest in a luminescent compass with dampened needle – as I have explained to the family, I could have an expensive hobby like racing hotrods but I don’t and all I need are a few dollars for the best footwear and outdoor gear to be had for use in some remote bush in the middle of the night! Also brig some thermals – I’ve rogained before on that road – it reaches 1200 metres and can get chilly.

 Finally, Webmaster Graeme, surely it is time to remove from the website those photographs of aging rogainers at dawn on some remote mountain top and find some pictures of younger attractive people who may bring more people to the sport. I recommend women’s champs Jess Baker and Mel Criniti!

By the way is there any rogainer out there with search engine optimisation skills who when you google NSWRA can get Rogaining placed ahead of the NSW Rifle Association. Their website is not as good as ours and they probably support hunting in national parks.

Julian Ledger

A Few Good Men (Team 97) and a lot of rain

Chris Stevenson

The 2016 Paddy Pallin did not disappoint. The Bureau of Meteorology delivered the expected amount of rain. It rained 27.8mm during the 6 hours of the event.


Looking around at the start there seemed to be three takes on how to dress for the weather:

  1. Wear very little and go hard to stay warm.
  2. Do what you can to stop the rain from getting in.
  3. Hybrid between 1. and 2. Token raincoat with light weight clothing.

My team mates and I opted for option 3. I must admit I was mildly amused by some teams trying to keep their feet dry jumping little creeks just after the start, my strategy was don’t bother, get them wet and get used to it. In fact the warmest my feet were during the entire event was when a wave washed over them on the traverse between 32 and 74.


Rogainers you have my respect. Out of 204 teams registered, when entries closed for the event, 181 teams competed so only 12% of teams decided to spend their day in a cafe rather than out in the rain. Just shows what a hardy (or slightly mad) bunch we rogainers are.

I hadn’t rogained near Catherine Hill Bay before, I was sick for the last rogaine in the area and I admit I was not expecting the amount of bush we encountered, nor was I expecting as much complex navigation as we did. In fact I am embarrassed to admit we duffered control 91. We can see our route below:


Wandering in circles

Our compass bearing into 91 was pretty good. After skirting around the creek which looked very deep, we followed our compass bearing but stopped just 30 metres from the control and then decided to walk in circles for 30 minutes trying to understand what had gone wrong.  What made matters worse was that I was leading at this stage, so I could not blame my team mates. At least we found the control in the end. I felt better when I spoke to another team at the finish who looked for 91 and didn’t find it. It is amazing what a lonely place a rogaine can be when you are off the main path.

I am pleased to report that control 91 was our only real error, every other control more or less went to plan and we ended up with 1050 points. I can’t help thinking what might have been if we hadn’t lost that precious 30 minutes. I also can’t help wondering what that event would be like in the dry. It certainly would have been a different experience. The views were spectacular in the rain and the mist, they would have been very special on a nice day.


Overall I had a lot of fun and I really appreciate the efforts of all the volunteers for their hard work in making an event like this happen and thanks also to the Catherine Hill Bay Bowling Club who will be spending a lot of tomorrow cleaning rogainer’s mud off their floor.  I normally do not eat much after events but today I stuffed myself with two sausage sandwiches, thanks to Waitara Scouts.

Also thanks to the Paddy Pallin organisation and Chris Mein for their continued support of our sport.


Blisters for Vistas

The Socialgaine was developed to give the regular rogainer a different perspective on the environment. ¼ way between the, all urbane Metrogaine and the largely bush Rogaine. You can go all out and sprint for the 6 hours, or perhaps sip a leisurely coffee at a conveniently located checkpoint coffee house, or slip into the ocean for a refreshing dip, or laze on a large rock shelf at the top of a summit taking in the panoramic views while chatting to your companions, while warmed by the sun at the same time as cooled by the sea breeze. It seems to me a delightful way to renew your feeling of oneness with paradise. For me when I hear paradise described I recognise the east coast of Australia. If you live in paradise why not enjoy the facilities, they were put here for our convenience!

This Socialgaine starts and finishes at the hash house at the park and children’s playground behind the Umina Surf Club House. A most pleasant place to be. I was particularly pleased to see the selection of “adventure” playground equipment, a flying fox to slide out along, a large network of ropes to represent anything you would imagine from sailing ship with masts, to jungle, to trampoline, to skyway, to ……..

Eowyn and other competitors on Umina Beach just after the start

We arrived at about 7:30 on a now beautiful sunny day (after the overcast drizzle of yesterday) and collected the map and instructions, so we could plot out a course. This is Eowyns first Rogaine, so it was pleasing to see that she suggested the same route that interested me. I prefer the scenic, interesting, challenging, rather than the highest score. I find rogaining a great way to explore a section of landscape in a most unusual way. At 9:30 Eowyn grabbed our control card from the “clothes line”, (few rogaines other than Navshield start this way nowadays). And we were on our way down to walk along the Umina Beach for {Check Point 30, a sign beside the beach}, {CP 20, a survey marker at the headland}, {CP 21, a sign}. Very pleasant walking with the sun tempered by the cool sea breeze and stunning scenery, Broken Bay sea stretching out to the Pacific Ocean beyond, bounded by the rocky headlands, with the forested hills behind, many sailing craft on the water. Such a delightful day many people enjoying the beach, the small surf, or out strolling, every where a grin or a laugh.

Rounding the second headland on track, beautiful Bay before us.

Onward, enjoying even more, Pearl Beach to {CP 31, the sign}. As the song said “sign, sign, every where a sign”. Even that sentiment can’t prevent enjoyment, just ignore the sign:). Around the headland by way of the ocean rock platform to {CP 45, the survey mark}. Our way inland now, along delightfully named Crystal Avenue. Eowyn shows she is more alert than me, as she takes the side Parks Service road. Someone had drawn a line to indicate our intended route and I assumed it was a track :~). {CP 60, the rock shelf on the spur 40m from the track}. We did chat to the flushed competitors who had just scrambled up the much steeper direct route, good choice Eowyn. Still on the track up to {CP 80, the lookout}. Great location for a morning snack while we look south over Broken Bay, past all the racing yachts, to the forests of Kuring-gai Chase, then beyond to the skyline of Sydney far to the south.

Eowyn prefers the shorter steeper foot track to the trig point where we a shushed by a couple watching an echidna eating ants, like they should do 🙂 We keep on, using the short section of track shown on the map, to locate the dogleg spur that leads to {CP 50, scenic end of rock outcrop the spur}. A trifle prickly blackened scrub this way. Back to the track and on to Patonga Drive, where we head down the road, carefully dodging the traffic, to collect {CP 35, end of rock platform}. Again a throng of people sitting enjoying the moment, while they re-fuel ready for the next burst of energy.

Broken Bay from CP 80, lookout.

We have been travelling this remarkable sandstone ridge plateau for a while now absolutely fascinating country. Low but prickly scrub, many oddly contorted rocky outcrops and extensive rock platforms, many with castellated like paving and every which way you look magnificent scenery. Add the weather and all the smiling people we pass – heaven.

The obvious way onto {CP 33, north side of rock outcrop}, is to take the bush track rather than chance the tar Patonga road again. And a pleasant way to go it is. Only a short walk to {CP 42, a knoll}. I need to explained the nomenclature of rogaining:- when a location is a feature shown on the map it is referred to as “the”, knoll, summit, watercourse, etc., if a feature can be inferred from the map (by a canny reader) it is referred to as “a” whatever. As I’m pointing out “the” knoll and the probable “a” knoll to Eowyn I see the orange and yellow control flag fluttering in the breeze, well that’s easy then :-).

We wander on along this easy walking gently undulating trail to a track junction, where we will go one way for {CP 71, the watercourse, to cool your feet}, or the other for {CP100, the summit}. On the way we passed a man, dressed in an all black running suit, he does not look in a good way and seems partly delirious, but he just keeps going. It seems that there is a 100km and 100 mile race on the Great North Walk today going from Teralba down to Patonga.

The track junction with handy tall shady trees make a great spot to stop and re-energise, and chat to the passing throng. While munching Mars Bars Eowyn was studying the map and suggested a change of plan for more points. Follow the spur from here to CP 100 then return the same way before picking up CP 71 and going on for CP 51 and 70. Great idea well do that.

Relatively easy walking on the spur directly to {CP 100, the summit}, is a large rock platform offering great views all round but particularly to the ocean in the east. A large party of competitors was taking the opportunity to sit and enjoy the view and the breeze. I did take a quick look around to see if I could recognise any aboriginal rock engravings, this would be an obvious place. If they were there I couldn’t recognise them. Other areas in Brisbane Waters National Park have extensive areas of aboriginal activities. CP 71 was a nice little rocky creek enough water for a drink from a small pool, but I would have only been able to cool the soles of my feet, bit at a time :-). Then the short hop, back to the main track and then north to where the spur to CP51 and CP 70 starts.

Eowyn thinks that may be an easy way and I think there may even be some sort of track to link with the track shown further up. We glance at the shortest way up to {CP 51, the spur} as we pass, but the steepness, combined with the thick prickly scrub easily dissuades us wimps. There is a marked trail up the spur orange surveyors tape, but the scrub is relatively easy on the top of these ridges and spurs, anyway. Not sure how much actual navigation we did going up here, but I had just stopped momentarily to read the map when Eowyn “here it is”. I suppose you don’t really need to concentrate following along a line feature. The landscape along this ridge top very pleasing, extensive rock platforms of interesting rock formations, low coastal scrub of fascinating variety with lots of flowers. As with most of the course magnificent views in all directions. {CP 70, the saddle}, is just round a dog leg in the ridge, again we were just walking rather than navigating and again I had just stopped to interrogate the map when “here it is” from Eowyn :-).

Dug enjoys CP 100, the summit.

Just a short section of bush track from here down a steeper spur into the urban area below. All street walking from now on. {CP 36, which bus route goes up the Rampart (st.)?} Easy the utilities pole at the top of the street has the sign, we briefly thought of taking a short cut but the steep terrain deterred us and we went the long easy way (wimps). CP 25, 24 and 23, aren’t much of a challenge and we register back in at 3:27, three minutes to spare.

All to do now total up our score, get someone to check our addition, hand in and then get into the welcome food and drink at the Hash House. Very pleasant to chat with all the smiling people, while we munched on salad and sausage sandwiches, sipping juice, or tea, or coffee, as was your taste.

A very pleasing day, thank you Eowyn for making it so. Congratulations to Eowyn the score of 810 points very credible for a first timer, dragging a stumbley old codger around as a handicap. Thank you and congratulations to the organisers and course setters for a brilliant event in a very picturesque location. Till next time. © Copy Right Dug Floyd November 2012.


Winter Wrap 2015

Winter wrap

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by three fabulous rogaines

With apologies to Shakespeare and Richard 3rd.

Despite Sydney’s coldest winter for 26 years it has been champagne conditions for NSW rogainers with great events in June, July and August.

Paddy Pallin

The first of the winter rogaines was the Paddy Pallin 6 Hour event on a very sunny day on the south coast at Bendalong Point south of Jarvis Bay.

Course setter, Trevor Gollan, had generously set the checkpoints so that there were a number of legs with great beach views. After the start it was a question of either scampering north or south with most heading north up the beach as there were bigger pickings in that direction. Top teams took in extra loops but had a dilemma as to whether to head for two check points on the other side of Berringer Lake with no simple way to incorporate them. Wise heads ruled the day and even the winners gave them a miss.

The setting/vetting team was a whos who of legendary rogainers from past campaigns. Helping Trevor there was Peter Waterson, Maurice Ripley and Ian Arnold. Missing only was the warm and generous George Collins who very sadly passed away aged only in his late 50s late last year.

John Clancy and myself had the satisfaction of completing a good course and finishing up the southern beach with a few minutes spare.  Each of the winning three teams were late indicating the intensity of the competition at the pointy end. Winners were ACT rogainers, Julie Quinn and Dave Baldwin, amongst Australia’s best prospects at the World Championships in Finland’s Arctic Circle on 22/23 August. Second by 60 points were Greg Barbour and Steve Todkill who were 20 minutes (200 points) late. Close behind were the ever competitive Andrew and Nicole Haig followed in fourth by David Willaims and Ronnie Taib

Search and Rescue

In July it was the Search and Rescue Rogaine at Mt Yengo National Park and another story entirely. This is an event with all of its own traditions and a special purpose. Held every year on the first weekend of July in difficult country it is designed to replicate winter search and rescue conditions for missing bushwallkers. Most competitors come from the paid and volunteer rescue services. The events on offer start at 8.45am and finish at either 10.30pm or 2.30pm the following day. Old style control punches are used,

Although not far from Sydney and thankfully near sea level, the dirt road in was still an hour of winding track mostly following the ridges. I had the idea that ridges would be better going than the creeks and so that was our strategy.

In the morning it is hard to put a finger on one thing that went wrong but when everyone was ready for the briefing for the 8.45am start we were not.   We underestimated how long it would take to mark up the map from eight digit grid coordinates. Then there was the water container with a thick layer of ice and frozen tap which slowed filling water bladders. Anyway at the gun we started with a burst and had the satisfaction of being first equal to the first control at the top of a rocky spur. However at the second control things went awry due to a pace counting calibration problem. Just how many paces in thick bush is 100 metres?  We dived down into a gully to find ‘the gully’ but in due course it turned out that our steep gully was the wrong steep gully and a lot of energy was consumed. The 20 metre contours hid a lot of topography.

A short stretch of track gave us a mid-afternoon breather before another climb and then an interminable ridge bash followed by a treacherous decent into a ravine, an open valley walk and another steep climb. Darkness fell and we checked in for our obligatory radio checkpoint before heading in the general direction of the Hash House via two final check points. It was well below freezing and every bit of clothing went on as well as some regrets about no gloves. At about this point I realised the gullies were better than the ridges. In 10.5 hours we had visited only eight checkpoints! Our excuse – no two were joined together by an obvious route!

Next day it emerged that in the overnight event rogainers David Williams and Ronnie Taib had cleared the course with a little time to spare, had won the rogaine category and had the highest score overall. Superb effort.

The Search and Rescue Rogaine is not for the faint hearted but recommended to all those who don’t mind wilder country and night navigation. Don’t forget to take your winter gear.

Lake Macquarie and NSW Champs

August 1st and  Anne Francis and I got up early for the drive up the freeway to the Watagans, pitch tents and ensure time to study maps before the midday start. A Championship event and only 12 hours – I thought we’d be in with a shot in the Mixed Super Veterans category.  Not long back from the Boston marathon and with a training regime to match, Anne’s fitness was never in doubt. But what about my slowness up hills and Anne’s drop in enthusiasm after dark. How would we go?

Bert Van Netten, Bob Gilbert and team have made such a success of the Lake Macquarie event which has been going for so many years and always finding courses with new twists.

An hour after the start in a canyon with many other teams we agreed that when the other slid off another green rock we would not again ask ‘are you alright’ but wait to be told only if the answer was no. Eventually out of the rough stuff we made good time on tracks in line with Marg and Rob Cook – fellow travellers in the Supervets. The crux of the course was whether to make a major descent down a very steep spur followed by a chaotic gully and then a 200 metre climb back through the only 100 pointer on the course. We went for it.

By the time we had escaped it was dark and we were low on water. An unexpected time hazard had been the amount of timber recently felled by a storm meaning that we had been sliding over, under and through a labyrinth of tree trunks. Skipping two controls we made it to the busy tea and damper stop for hot sweet liquid and slice. Bert was helping to host and warned that the Great North Walk en route back was slower than it looked. Sure enough at each of the four check points off the track back we lost a few minutes – a combination of tiredness and the moon too low to help the dark night. We thought we were cutting it fine and skipped the last 20 pointer but then made it back comfortably although I was exhausted. And the Cooks had beaten us by 130 points – the value of those checkpoints we had skipped. They said training for Trailwalker had built up their strength.

Congratulations went to winners Martin Dent and Susie Sprague who managed to clear the course just in time. Martin is a former winner of the City to Surf and ran the marathon at the London Olympics (2.16 and 28th). I don’t know about Susie but she must be a very fine athlete. Second were Mike Hotchkiss and Neil Hawthorne only 40 points behind and a great hit out in preparation for their bid at the World Championships. Third only ten points off were, you guessed it, that strong partnership of David Williams and Ronnie Taib. Truly a championship field.

Thanks go to the many many people who volunteered their time to put on these three excellent events. And, we found every control we went for with only a little time lost along the way. Well done too to Sophie Stephenson on her first proper rogaine who took her dad along for the walk. Me, I’m heading for a big trek in the Himalaya and hope that rogaining will have been good training.

Julian Ledger

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.

My Wrap of the Navigation Workshop at Rydal, 14-15 Apr 2018

Navigation Workshop

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

Posted on 16/04/2018 by Chris Stevenson

Gertrude and Wind

The navigation workshop was just great fun. Many newbies and some experienced rogainers learned how to improve their skill of bush navigation from some of our sport’s pros. For my part I was one of the coaches and despite 24 years of rogaining I also learned a few things from the sport’s real pros.

My wife, Dianne, and good friend John Clancy volunteered to do the catering and we arrived late on Friday night and started unloading food from the car into the kitchen at the Rydal Showground. As soon as the kitchen door was opened, in popped Gertrude, the campground’s pet sheep. Apparently no one told Gertrude that we had hired the Campground for the weekend, because according to Gertrude if the kitchen door is open it was her right to be in there. We must have ejected Gertrude from the kitchen about a dozen times. Gertrude was also trying to make friends with our dog Maple. Maple is a cavoodle and about 1/20th the size of Gertrude and was quite wary of this huge woolly thing that was trying to make friends.

Gertrude checking out the intruders in her kitchen

We eventually unloaded all of our food and ejected Gertrude one more time and went to bed. The next exciting thing that happened was that a huge wind followed by a brief rain storm thundered across the campground. Thankfully, Di, Sophie, my 11 year old daughter, and I had decided to camp inside the hall and were not out in the wind storm in a tent. I am sure those who stayed in a tent on Friday night were very concerned about being blown to Mudgee while still in their tent. The wind raged all night and I am sure those in a tent probably got little sleep.


Saturday morning broke and the 50+ participants and 15 coaches arrived at the Campground and coaches and teams were matched up. The first exercise was held east of the showground in a mix of natural bush and pine forest. After a brief chat about compasses and navigation basics we set off hunting for controls. The path to the first control we selected was made unusually difficult by a mess of fallen pine trees in the gully. I have been rogaining at Rydal several times and it is lovely open forest which is almost perfect for rogaining but navigating this mess of fallen pine trees was not what I had planned for the day. It seems I should not have worried since once we had bagged the first control we moved away from pine tree hell and into some lovely open forest.

Joel Mackay showing what he carries in his pack for a 24 hour rogaine

My team of coachees were very fast learners and after the first couple of controls they were taking compass bearings and heading off into the wilderness like seasoned pros. After a couple of hours of this we returned to the hash house to be lectured by a couple of our sport’s elite athletes. Gill Fowler spoke on the theory and practice of navigation and Joel Mackay spoke about what food and equipment to take on a rogaine.

I am sure everyone found these talks fascinating. I was reminded by Gill about “aiming off”. This is something I plan to put in practice in future rogaines. I was also fascinated by Joel’s talk on what to eat and what to carry. Until Joel’s talk I was a keen advocate of carrying sports drink in my hydration bladder. Having learned that it probably makes no difference, I will, in future, be content just carrying water.

Read more about aiming off here…

Night Navigation and Nine Nightmares

After Joel’s talk the participants were all invited to measure their stride length in preparation for a night navigation exercise and after dinner we set off. Navigating at night time can be quite daunting for newbies, so I was keen to make the experience a good one.

We found the first control with relative ease and heading towards control number “9”. When arrived at where I thought control 9 should have been, we found other teams but no control. My team had navigated straight for the control so we had to eliminate the possibility of it being further up or down the gully. Once we had eliminated both of these possibilities, I doubted my own navigation skills and we headed to the next gully to check if we had pulled up short. I was thinking “Great coach I am, I cannot find a control only 300 metres from the last one in a reasonably well defined gully”.

We still didn’t find the control and at this stage, I knew it was my mistake and we headed for a known feature, a fire trail and track junction, to try again. This time I was making sure that our bearing and pace counting was perfect and a few minutes later we arrived at the exact same spot with no control in sight. By this stage I had to face up to the fact that I was rubbish at night navigation or the flag was not where it should be. There were other teams about, so I left my team standing in the dark while I sought out the other coaches to ask them if they had found the control. Having spoken to Ted Woodley and Joel Mackay both of whom could also not find the control we determined that the control was indeed not where it should be and we headed off to try a different control.

In hindsight, this was probably a really good lesson in what to do when you cannot find a control and it even occurred to me that perhaps this was some sort of sadistic test Gill had set for us. The reality was a little more mundane because the control has simply been hung in the wrong gully. I was very pleased by my team’s quick learning and after the fiasco with control number 9 they quickly found a couple of difficult controls in the pitch black and everyone’s confidence, including mine, was restored.

My Scary Experience

I am not often scared rogaining at night, but this night proved to be an exception. When we got near one of the controls I thought I could see movement behind one of the trees. Normally, I would just pass this off as an animal, but the movement was human height and seemed to be staying behind the tree. I am over 6 foot tall, male and almost 100kg, so I am not usually the timid type, but having someone watching you from behind a tree late at night, in the middle of the bush, has got to ring some alarm bells. I was wondering whether Ivan Milat had been let out early, when all of a sudden Mike Hotchkis popped out from behind the tree and scared several precious years from my remaining life.

It seems that Mike had set his team the task of finding this particular control unaided and was going to surprise them when they eventually found the control. Mike is a fine athlete and an outstanding rogainer. In real life Mike is lovely and not a very scary person at all, but what would you think when someone is clearly hiding and watching you from behind a tree, in the forest, in the pitch black?

Falnash Forest

The next morning we headed out for another practice session in Falnash Forest near Wallerawang. I hadn’t been walking in Falnash Forest before and it was a really lovely experience. It is gently undulating, open forest, perfect for rogaining. My team were now behaving like rogaining pros and we bagged control after control with no navigational missteps. I was quite proud of my coachees when they found a control on a poorly defined broad ridge about 400m away from the nearest well defined point.

Here is our well deserved selfie having bagged a difficult control

After Falnash Forest we headed back for lunch and a three hour minigaine starting from the hash house. We were all tired by this stage and we were more interested in navigation than point scoring for this event. Our navigation for this event was good but we were let down by our route choice and ended up getting only 60 points and then lost 30 of these by being 3 minutes late back. At the end of the day the point of the weekend was learning navigation and I sensed that my team were now pretty confident of their abilities.

Capable People

  • Rogainers, as a general rule, are capable and intelligent people and I am continually impressed by their willingness to help and to solve problems. A lot of people put a lot of time and effort into a weekend like this to make it a success, and we come to expect this, but I am still continually surprised by how people just pitch in and get the job done. Some examples were:
  • Andrew Duerden, who had also volunteered as coach, listened to me ranting about how much I hate barbequing at close to midnight and volunteered to get up a 5:30am to take the task off my hands. Andrew cooked bacon and eggs for 70 people with a great deal of skill and good humour.
  • Ronnie Taib, also there as a coach, spent every spare moment he had washing up and otherwise helping in the kitchen.
  • I also must acknowledge the efforts of my wife, Di, and good friend John Clancy who spent the whole weekend doing nothing but feeding 70 hungry rogainers. The food was fabulous and more closely resembled a restaurant than a rogaine.
  • Mike Hotchkis, Toni, Smiffy and Phil Titterton who, after a long and tiring weekend of walking, happily disappeared into the bush, once more, to pick up controls by themselves for a few hours.
  • Thanks also to Richard Sage for bringing the catering trailer to the event. Not only did he have to drive across the mountains towing a heavy trailer, which is an unpleasant task, but towing the trailer means that he has to be one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave.
  • I don’t know all the names of the people that helped. Some women I didn’t recognise cut veggies for 70 with the speed and skill of a Michelin chef. Gary Roberts was also a regular presence in the kitchen doing what he could, including the unpleasant task of taking home bags of rubbish for disposal.
  • I also need to acknowledge the 15 coaches who willingly gave up their weekend to share their skills with others.
Ronnie, Gary and Andrew helping out in the kitchen

The final thanks must go to Gill. Without Gill’s efforts the event simply would not have taken place. I am continually impressed by the generosity and capability of the rogaining community.

3 Responses to My Wrap of the Navigation Workshop at Rydal

  1. Michael Watts says: 16/04/2018 at 5:56 pm

That was some wind – we were in tents. The travails of course-setting … on Friday night we thought we’d be lucky not to wash down the creek in the rain. On Saturday night we thought that we were lucky we were already in Oz.
Plenty of trees down along the fire trail on the way out, and one near miss for a setter as a branch gave up the fight to stay attached to the rest of its tree.

  • Andrew Duerden says: 17/04/2018 at 8:26 am

I have competed in a lot of rogaines over the past few years but had two events this last weekend that I won’t forget in a hurry. Firstly, whilst coaching a team we had a very large gum tree explode, break in two and crash down a few meters in front of us. Thank god the wind was blowing from behind us else the weekend would have been less five rogainers for sure. Secondly, whilst collecting flags by myself I came upon a beautiful brumby mare. Having learnt from my daughter to sit down in a submissive posture, I did so and after 10 minutes she came within a few meters of me. Amazing!

  • Carolyn Rigby says: 19/04/2018 at 11:27 am

Sounds like a fantastic and very productive weekend – and the epitome of rogaining and rogainers. It is truly a privilege to be on the periphery of the sport. Great initiative.