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.

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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.

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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

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.

coast

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.

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2019 NSW Championships in Review – The Step Up Rogaine

Thoughts and reports on the NSW Champs, 20-21 September 2019

Yengo National Park is a large (150,000 hectare) tract of land in the north-eastern section of the world-heritage Greater Blue Mountains Area. It doesn’t get many visitors, much of it is declared wilderness, and it’s only 100km from the Sydney CBD.

It’s classic Sydney-sandstone country; flat on the top, cliffs on the sides, and broad valleys in between. Mount Yengo (660m) is the exceptional feature. Like the other basalt-topped peaks in the northern Wollemi, such as Coriaday and Corricudgy, it looms over the surrounding dissected plateau. It is perhaps more dramatic in that it stands alone, and it holds special meaning to indigenous people as the stepping off point for Baiame after he had created this landscape.

Late afternoon, looking west from Finchley Trig, with Mt Yengo dominant above Yengo NP

So why haven’t we run a rogaine there before?

In big part, because of the access; there’s 32km of narrow, dirt trail from The Great North Road to the Big Yango camping area. It’s OK for most road vehicles but it does require time and care. Despite the organiser’s warnings many competitors were surprised by, as Chris Stevenson cited, that “tedious dirt road.

Gill Fowler organised delivery trucks to provide marquees and portaloos. At 8 o’clock Friday morning she had to meet them at Laguna, then escort them into the Hash House site. Organiser’s also had to tow the large catering trailer, and other heavy loads including a tonne of water. After the 3rd or 4th trip the road became familiar and less daunting, but it still took over an hour to drive those 32kms. There also lurked the unlikely risk of heavy rain which would have closed the road and forced a cancellation of the event.

Another reason we haven’t rogained in Yengo is to do with the history of the Park. The Big Yango property was only morphed into the National Park in 2000. Soon after, in 2009, two-thirds of the Park were designated as wilderness, thus becoming inaccessible to our sport.

Move to 2015, when Vivien de Remy de Courcelles created a NavShield event, mid-winter, based in the Big Yango frost hollow. This year, after our exploration of a site on the Southern Highlands was abandoned due to cliff-lines and landowner access, it was a simple solution for Vivien to re-use Yengo with it’s sole land manager. Unfortunately the Big Yango Hash House site was booked on the weekend for which the NSW Champs were scheduled, so we had to move to the following weekend. (This meant however that the flag-hanging team got to enjoy the full moon.)

THE COURSE

There was near unanimous agreement that the map was excellent, that the course layout made route planning a true puzzle, and that there were good options to return to the Hash House.

Gill Fowler was coordinator for the event and also explored much of the area while vetting and hanging flags. She “found the event area very special, rich in vegetation diversity and aboriginal heritage, something I don’t get to appreciate as greatly when competing at the pointy end of a rogaine. It’s also an area that has limited cars and no evidence of trail or mountain bike tracks, an added bonus.

More from Gill, “I was excited that it was primarily feature navigation, little need for my compass, and some of the terrain was steep, but these were in short rather than long climbs. I found the area reasonably open, with some scrub, so I was surprised that some rogainers considered it very scrubby. (But then, perhaps I would too if out there for 24 hours.)

The accessible hash house put pressure on the caterers, perhaps due to many 24-hour competitors returning about the same time as the 8-hour event finished.

NAVSHIELD 2015

Vivien recalls that the course for NavShield was very different to this year. In 2015 the same Hash House site was at the edge of the map and the course extended to the west. “At NavShield”, says Vivien, “we had controls in the wilderness area but did not go as far south-west, east or even north” as the recent Champs. “Traditionally NavShield has only about 40 controls, and we use the topographic map of the area to replicate what happens when emergency services are called for a search, as if grabbing a map off the shelf … and yes, we know that things are different now with online maps and GPS. Anyway the topo maps for Big Yango have 20m contours, do not show any cliffs, and are missing some very clear trails. I did add one trail for safety in 2015. Map reading was very different compared to the accurate map we had for the NSW Champs (e.g. if those 20m contours are very close there must be a cliff). When setting NavShield I tried to avoid trails, whilst I try to create routes using trails for the Champs.

Many who did the 2015 event recall the cold weather. Tristan White commented that it was easy to rest and be lazy this year, whereas “one advantage of an event as bloody cold as the Navshield was that we never wanted to stop for long!

David Williams and Ronnie Taib won in 2015 with 2400 points clearly ahead of the Sydney University Bushwalking team’s 2080 points. When using the word “win”, we should consider that standard Navshield teams are handicapped by their larger team and the obligation to carry camping and safety equipment. One wonders if this previous experience helped Ronnie and Dave this year.

THE MAP

Phil Whitten is a map freak who delights in preparing an accurate, navigational tool as well as an art piece. You can access the map here.

The map was unusual in having four callouts – sections from the map expanded to 1:5,000 scale – where Vivien had taped passes around or through clifflines. This meant three controls were squares rather than circles.

Julie Quinn was very positive of the map, saying “Phil did an awesome job. I love the new LIDAR dataset with the contours that are so accurate. He also performed some magic with the algorithm getting all of the cliff lines and watercourses on the map. We did get confused near 47 where the track on the ground crossing the gully didn’t really exist. That’s what you get sometimes in the dark.

Chris Stevenson concurred. “I loved the map, a superb piece of cartography. One change perhaps – the hatching of the OOB areas obscured the contours.

Tristan White would have liked the map to show the thicker vegetation. Gill Fowler appreciated the addition of the cliffs in the map.

Let’s give Ronnie Taib the final say. “It was my sort of map, much more to my taste than the WRC map. I don’t recall we spotted any error, and the marked cliffs were usually useful. Well done, Phil!

THE COMPETITION

Congratulations to David Williams and Ronnie Taib, the 2019 NSW Rogaining Champions. Dave & Ronnie are showing strong consistency, defending their title win at Abercrombie last year (and in 2017 they were only 10 points below the winners at Mt Werong.)

David Williams & Ronnie Taib, weary winners

Julie Quinn and David Baldwin were a mere 20 points behind. One presumes both teams have done their post-event analysis to consider how they might have changed the final result.

Full results are available on the event website. This year’s top ten are:

  1. David Williams & Ronnie Taib .. 3,060 points
  2. Julie Quinn & David Baldwin .. 3,040
  3. Jackson Bursill & Thomas Banks .. 2,740
  4. Mathew Collin & Ivan Koudashev .. 2,480
  5. John & Mardi Barnes .. 2,450
  6. Fergus Macleod & Max Messenger .. 2,440
  7. Tristan White & Aurelian Penneman .. 2,410
  8. Andrew Renwick & Peter Marshman .. 1,850
  9. Glenn Disalvia, Ryan Puklowski & Ginaya Dunn .. 1,820
  10. Graham Field & Martin Dearnley .. 1,690

In the associated 8-hour event, elite veterans Mike Hotchkis and Glenn Horrocks scored 1,450 points, 200 ahead of Andrew & Nicole Haigh.

HOW GOOD ARE THE TOP TEAMS?

Here’s a graph showing progress of the top two teams. Ronnie referred to the low patch they had, due to dehydration, which shows as that flat section about 10-11pm. But by 10am Sunday both teams had the same score, 2770 points, and finished at the same, strong rate. Perhaps Julie and David benefited from their brief visit to the Hash House about 7:45pm; they certainly were more consistent during the night.

CREDITS

  • Coordination & Liaison: Gill Fowler
  • Course Setting & Flag Hanging: Vivien & Justine de Remy De Courcelles, Emmanuelle Convert
  • Map: Phil Whitten
  • Vetting & Flag Hanging: Gill Fowler, Phil Whitten, Belinda & Andrew Pope, Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Richard Patterson, Mel Thomas
  • Administration: Anita Bickle
  • Catering: The Pope family (Andrew, Belinda, Sean & Nick), Trevor Gollan
  • General Help: Amanda Mackie, Graeme McLeod, Ann Newman, Michael Watts, Clinton Bradley, Bert van Netten, Phil Whitten, Pawel Wagner, Monica Wong, Peter Watterson, Sam Hussein, Lisa x
  • Photography: Bruce Sutton
  • Safety: Lesley Clarke with SES-Bush Search and Rescue
  • Flag Collection: John & Mardi Barnes, Phil Harding, Sandra Thomas, Pam, Bob & Ann Montgomery
  • Catering Trailer: Andrew & Belinda Pope; Admin Trailer: Trevor Gollan
  • Landowners: NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Simone Smith & the Laguna Community (for water supply)
  • Website: Chris Stevenson
  • Equipment: Mark von Huben
SES-BSAR reviewing safety procedures with Gill Fowler (at right)

QUOTES

  • I’d have happily cried but couldn’t waste any water (Ronnie Taib)
  • It was really fantastic to see the big number of novice 24-hour teams (Gill Fowler)
  • We’re not as quick these days – but we’re still optimistic of our capabilities! (John Biddiscombe)
  • I hoped to learn enough about Hash House Food Prep to be more help in the future – but – came away intimidated and with deeper respect for what the Pope’s pulled off (Phil Witten)
  • I’d give the Rogaine a 10/10. There wasn’t one disappointment with the experience (Allan Bourke)
  • Setting navigation courses, similarly to leading walks for my bushwalking club SBW, is a way to show others some nice areas that you might not find easily (Vivien de Remy de Courcelles)

I asked a bunch of people for their Observations and Cogitations

David Baldwin and Julie Quinn are the top Mixed team in Australia, as evidenced at the recent World Champs in Spain where they won the Mixed Veterans category and were 2nd in the Open Mixed. They also placed 2nd Outright at the last Australasian Champs, at Manumbar in S-E Queensland.

Julie writes… Many thanks to the NSWRA for putting on a super event for the NSW Champs. I would describe it as a true bush rogaine, with very little of our time spent on tracks or in open country. Couldn’t be much more of a contrast to the World Rogaine Champs at La Molina, which was open high country and pine forest with trails everywhere.

I had to look up where Yengo NP was, and after putting a pin on the map I was pretty excited to explore the country. The only downside was the distance from Canberra. A huge thanks to Toni and Smiffy who put us up on Friday evening and then again, after the event, welcomed us back to their house for a sleep and feed on our way home.

Yengo has a real feel of history with the various Aboriginal artefacts around the place. I spent quite a bit of time pondering where and how the people lived in this country, although it must have been quite different without the European farming influence and the few animals. We missed seeing the stencils near 47 although we did look around a bit in the dark for them.

We decided fairly quickly that climbing up and down over the ridges was pretty slow, especially through the lines of rock. However, the open valleys had the cobblers pegs/farmers friend (Bidens pilosa) weed which was so awful when you stumbled into a clump of it, it had David cursing. Some of the other gullies where they were a bit more rainforest-like were a joy on Saturday afternoon. Just a bit cooler and damp providing some relief from the much-warmer-than-Canberra temperatures.

The positioning of the water drops provided us with a challenge to carry enough water and we were pretty thirsty when we came through the Hash House about 7:30 pm. But we had been warned and it was obvious that there was a constraint of access around the course.

Definitely a great event, and an area that NSW should use again one day. It’s a pity the surrounding area is wilderness as I am sure there is so much more to explore.

Thanks Julie & David for making the trek from Canberra and bringing your classy competition.


Chris Stevenson and John Clancy scored 870 points placing them 6th overall in the 8-hour competition. Chris (below, at left) is our Webmaster and a regular commentator on NSW rogaining activities.

Asked to summarise his experience, Chris wrote… it was a good event in a difficult location. I was aware of the area but missed the NavShield and had also planned to mountain bike ride from Putty Road to Laguna, not done yet due to logistical complexities.

Highlights? I enjoyed the country. It is unusual to have the long open valleys that are not fight-scrub. (This will change over time with the cows having been removed.) We saw a red bellied black snake, managed some brilliant night navigation, lots of kangaroos or wallabies (they weren’t wearing signs), and some grinding marks which are uninteresting.

It was just great to explore somewhere new.

Lowlights? The flies, heat and dirt road were tedious, and I would have preferred to do the 24-hour.

What can we do to improve? Why not also run a four hour event so it would be 4/8/24. This would probably help the event pay for itself. I suspect that the 4-hour event would be well attended, despite the drive, and it would be a marginal cost and effort for NSW Rogaining.


Brett Davis (below, at right) and Mike Ward won the Men’s Ultravet category with 1,350 points. Brett was 2nd in his class at Abercrombie 2018, and writes of this year’s event… I thought pretty much everything about the event was excellent – location, organisation, map, food, admin.

I hadn’t been to Yengo before. Given the good weather we experienced leading up to the event, and despite the reasonably heavy rain a week before, the road into the HH was in pretty good condition (for a national park track.) It was quite a long way to the HH from the bitumen on a dirt road that might have deteriorated rapidly if it had rained. But it was ideal rogaining country – plenty of hills but not too high, a bit of thickish scrub but generally pretty open, the creeks were dry and easily followed most of the time, and the clifflines were negotiable in the main.

The map felt flimsy when I first picked it up, but I had no problems with it at all and my initial feeling was misplaced.”

Did you keep going for the full 24 hours? We tried, but Mike had basically insisted on two loops with a short stop at the HH for food and water in between. There are two obvious gaps in our splits. The first occurred when both Mike and I ran out of water at the north of the course just on dusk. We picked up one control in the dark, and tried for another, but gave up the search very early on to walk about 4k back to the HH for a meal and water. The break was reasonably leisurely, and then we walked a few kilometres south to get to some higher value controls – so the gap stretched to about 3½ hours.

The second big gap in our splits happened when we didn’t find 74. I’m still kicking myself over that one! The description was “rock platform” and I had a middle-of-the-night mindset that a rock platform was either a large, flat section of open rock on top of the ridge, or a raised rock platform also on top of the ridge. And we found the latter, but alas – no flag. If I had been thinking straight, and had actually looked at the map a little more closely, I would have seen the cliffline clearly marked in the centre of the circle and reasoned that a rock platform might actually be the edge of the cliff, but as it was around 3am I was a little bit brain-dead. After abandoning the search, our next target was back along the ridge we had just walked and then further north – quite a distance. The scrub on this ridge turned out to be reasonably thick too, so the going was slow – and Mike doesn’t like the “off track” stuff very much. We picked up our next control just before dawn after another gap of 3½ hours.

Highlights and lowlights? The weather was a highlight, almost perfect. It was a bit too warm during both days, but the night was beautiful, with virtually no breeze and mild enough to get by in a cotton shirt without the need for gloves, beanies, or thermals. The lowlight was missing 74!

What animals or unusual features did you encounter? We encountered kangaroos, wallabies and one lone wombat, but the birds were amazing! The calls of White-throated Gerygones were a constant around the HH, and there were plenty of calls from Rufous Whistlers, Golden Whistlers, Grey Shrike-thrushes, Eastern Yellow Robins and Wonga Pigeons on the course. My highlight was flushing a pair of White-throated Nightjars on an open ridge very close to 83. As you can probably tell, I’m a birdwatcher.

On the “other” rock platform near 74 – which was a solid, raised block of rock, we found lots of grinding grooves near a couple of rock holes filled with water.

Any suggestions? My only gripe, and it is reasonably minor, was with the locations of the water drops – they just didn’t seem to be really user-friendly. And I’m not complaining because I ran out of water, as that was my fault. I had two litres in pockets on the side of my backpack, and thought I had packed another 700ml inside – but hadn’t. Stupid error!


Tristan White is highly visible in NSW Rogaining due to his role as publicity officer, most notably as the editor of our newsletters, and for his energy. He is also very active as a competitor, organiser and mountain biker.

Tristan and Aurelian Penneman placed 7th overall at Yengo, after coming 2nd at this years Paddy Pallin 6-hour. Tristan also took 2nd place last year at the NSW Champs, teamed with Mike Hotchkis. Here’s some extended comments about his Yengo experience.

It wasn’t our easiest event. A few hours in it was clear that we were not going to go home with a trophy. I could feel something of a headache and a stomach that didn’t feel great. Not sure if it was me having too much/little to eat or drink, still recovering from a nasty chest infection (that I exacerbated doing the ACT cyclegaine two weeks before) or just having an off day. I just didn’t have the energy and adrenaline that I usually do, even in 24-hour events. We stopped a LOT during the night, and would have to motivate each other to start moving again.

Consequentially, we decided to pull in a couple of hours early so Aurelien could get back home to his young daughter. It was to emerge that, had we gotten a mere 80 more points, our position would have been bumped up from 7th to 4th. At the time I had no problem spending a couple of extra hours resting but looking back on it I do regret doing an event that I haven’t squeezed in every possible CP! Doing a rogaine, particularly a 24-hour, relies on being there mentally, and I wasn’t.

The Course? I wish to compliment the organisation team for getting the HH in the centre of the course. Although we didn’t go back to it I know a lot of teams did, and with some better planning we certainly could have and lightened our load.

However, in terms of terrain, in all honesty, it wouldn’t have been my top pick for a course area. I found many of the watercourses really nice and open and they were some of my favourite sections, but many of the ridges were very slow and unpleasant. Although I knew it was the same location as the 2015 Navshield (which is traditionally thick and scrubby) I had read in the course notes that the scrub was minimal so I wore a T-shirt, no gaiters … and I suffered. The hills were also a lot more brutal than I imagined. Although the actual elevation difference was much less than the infamously hilly Abercrombie, the combination of their steepness, the number of loose rocks, cliffs to dodge and all the prickly crap just made it much slower than we expected.

I think I’d have been better prepared for the course if we’d understood how thick and slow the bush was. I’d have also worn long sleeves and gaiters in favour of long pants had I known. As the wisdom goes you only appreciate the difficulty when you’ve seen it first hand!

The map was excellent for the most part. I didn’t find any occasions that CPs were in the wrong place, or contour detail was wrong, and was amazed about the accuracy of the clifflines, something that is so subjective, but aside from 95 it seemed they were exactly where I expected them.

Highlights and Lowlights? The blunders at 36 and 95 were the obvious downturns; the first and final CPs attempted in the dark. We wasted almost an hour at 36 after shooting slightly above the CP, at which point the watercourse was almost indistinguishable. We went back to the track to have another crack at it, and still missed it. Looking at the GPS history later on it’s clear we were not far at all from the CP. But the vagueness of the feature, the adjustment to the dark, and the dense bush meant that it was harder than it otherwise would have been.

95 was a long slog. I don’t want to say how long we spent looking for it as it’d be humiliating. Basically we found what we thought was the cliffline to the east of the control and followed it to the corner, and there was no flag. We then made our way back along a different cliff, to find yet another corner, again no flag. After countless to’s and fro’s and consultations, we were about to give up when I looked behind to see a flash of white and orange. Needless to say the GPS-tracker looked positively embarrassing, but in all fairness there must have been some unmarked cliffs. It would have been around 4am, of course when we’re at the biggest risk of making goof-ups.

Did you laugh or cry? There was some laughter before and after the event, perhaps even a little during the event. There were no actual tears (yes, I have cried in other events) but I won’t share a transcript of the things I said when I couldn’t find CP 95!

Animals or unusual features? The main unusual feature was the number of other rogainers we saw over the course of the night. Last NSW Champs Mike and I saw three other teams between 3pm and 11am (including three sightings of our rivals David and Ronnie as we could see them obviously getting the leading edge over us!). This time, we must have seen several dozen, which doesn’t happen often in a 24-hour.

Ideas for improvement? The organisation was excellent. I think the kiddygaine was great and I’m glad to see the efforts were reflected in the turnout.

I do think that prickly areas such as many that were on this course are simply painful and don’t add much value to the sport. I find it really stunts my motivation to keep fighting my way through the night. My ideal rogaining country is what’s found west of the Blue Mountains or in the Southern Highlands – enough bush to shelter from the heat, wind or cold but not much low prickly crap.

Consider having a short novice/kids’ course before future events, incl. urban events – perhaps at a 1:2,500 scale with a few CPs near the HH, which doubles up as a sample of what CPs look like. Then kids that don’t do the main event can have a crack at it as well.


Belinda and Andrew Pope, with their teenage sons Sean & Nick volunteered to run the Hash House, a task that involves menu planning, shopping, transporting the basic foodstuffs, prepping, serving and cleaning up. They also spent the previous weekend hanging flags.

Andrew reported that… the overall experience was rather hectic and stressful. It was our first time running the hash house but, yes, we probably would do it again.

Highlights? I guess it was getting everyone fed and pulling it off. We flexed as required with the cooking and received positive feedback on the food.

I liked being told by a team that they could smell the food km’s away from the hash house.

The four goannas in, or hovering outside, the hash house were a pleasant amusement, distraction and concern. We had to be wary of them underfoot, not wanting to hurt them, and vice versa.

The par-boiled sausages from Tender Value meats were great (factor in around 1.2/participant.) Shepherds Bakery cakes were good… though a bit expensive, and Harris Farm in Pennant Hills were fantastic.

Maybe we have some sponsorship opportunities there. How about that great cauliflower soup?

The recipe for the soup was from the Web. Here’s the ingredients (just multiply by 40-50):
 1 onion diced
 3 garlic cloves (minced)
 ½ tsp dried sage
 ½ tsp paprika
 ½ tsp turmeric
 2 average sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped)
 1 average cauliflower (chopped into florets)
 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
 13.5 oz (400ml) light coconut milk
 salt & pepper (to taste)

Challenges? We needed more helpers at times, especially when we were preparing and serving dinner on Saturday night. We needed more pots (8 to 10) and/or a better way of keeping prepared food warm whilst more is cooked, and we’d prefer pans with heavy bases to avoid burning food so easily – that was frustrating.

Next time? We’d simplify the dinner menu (delete one meat dish), order less bacon (about half, 11 kgs, would have been right, and we’d skip the yoghurt. The soup and veggie stew quantity were excessive, and obviously we’d get less bread. We should have labelled the dishes and whether they contain gluten, dairy, etc.

Other improvements? I’d question the 8 hour + 24 hour, unless you have a big group to cater for that evening rush, and enough pots to keep the food coming along. 15 in 24 hour may have worked better.

I’d prefer 10L water containers, rather than 20-25L’s for volunteers to use round the kitchen. The big containers are too heavy to lift. We used our own.

Stirring the big pots gets dangerous due to the height. You need a way of bringing that down so an average height person can safely stir a pot. Smaller pots, different burners etc.

And finally, keep the catering trailer clean. We spent a while cleaning it up on Saturday morning.

How was your flag-hanging weekend? We loved our wander around the course, with the beautiful open creeks. The hills weren’t too big, the scrub was bearable, and we saw wombats, goannas, red-tailed black cockatoos and lots of kangaroos.

“The Trailers are Packed!” [L-R] Belinda Pope, Vivien de Remy de Courcelles, Gill Fowler, Justine de Remy de Courcelles, Andrew, Sean & Nick Pope

John Biddiscombe and his regular teammate, John Bishop, have a different approach to a 24-hour rogaine. This year they scored 260 points, 20 more than 2018 where they came last, and this year was quite different in that they collected more points but incurred a 250 penalty for being late to the Finish – and they didn’t come last.

Let John tell the story… I thought that Yengo was a very honest rogaine. After getting to the general area of each control, the setters were considerate on their placing of the targets.

As for John and I, we usually bite off more that we can chew. I’m probably the fitter in the team, Bish has lost a bit of fitness over the years which is to be expected – not as quick these days – but we’re still optimistic of our capabilities!

We always like to get out to the nice country away from the madding crowds. This inevitably gets us far away from the Hash House and often creates long marches along fire trails at the end of the event. On this occasion, we failed to heed the advice of the course setter and decided that we wouldn’t let a bit of scrub stop us coming down the ridge south of W1. Big mistake. It was awful and progress was very slow. Night fell and after a couple of hours thrashing about trying to make southerly progress, we decided to have a kip until dawn when we could fix our position on the ridge, which we did.

We are always prepared for a forced benighting as it has happened on previous rogaines. We don’t worry too much and are both reasonably comfortable and experienced in the bush.


Mel de Laat and Allan Bourke travelled from Brisbane to get some training prior to the Australasian Champs in Tasmania next month. In response to my query about having a southern holiday they responded, “No, just a long weekend.” Well they got that practice, collecting 1,540 points, placing 12th overall and 3rd in the Mixed Veterans category.

Here’s some thoughts from Mel… We thoroughly enjoyed the Yengo Rogaine. The location was beautiful, and the organisation was very smooth. It was my first 24-hour rogaine, and this was one of the reasons we made the effort to come down from Brisbane. We are heading to Tassie next month, and wanted to get some practice at a longer event having missed the Qld champs. We were happy with our rogaine, but did get some sleep in order to drive home safely. Maybe one day we will go all night!

The cliffs were challenging from an ‘up and down’ perspective, but never put us too far off course so were an interesting added feature. We saw roos, goannas, black cockatoos, a red bellied black snake and a small skink/lizard thing with a tail like a beaver in the middle of the night. The map was great, a good level of detail to help with setting bearings.

Overall, thanks for a great event. The hard work by the organisers was very evident.

And from Allan… There wasn’t one disappointment with the experience, and that’s saying something as I hate hills. The cliff faces were quite overwhelming at first glance but, like the course notes said, there was usually a way through.

The surroundings at Yengo NP were quite stunning, and it was simply the best rogaining country we have stepped foot on.

We found the people extremely friendly and welcoming, from the moment we met you up at the lookout to the time we left and chatted with a few other participants.

Whilst we appreciate next year may be a different course, our advice would be not to change anything else.


Jackson Bursill and Thomas Banks finished 3rd overall with 2,740 points

Jackson writes… The map and the course were great. I really enjoyed all the rock climbing and cliff scaling. It was my first time to Yengo NP and my first proper rogaine in over a year – good to get the cobwebs out as well. I particularly enjoyed exploring all the caves on the course and seeing the indigenous rock art and other artefacts. We executed our route mostly as planned but had to cut out many of the controls in the south-west corner which means we didn’t get to see the mountain up close. It was a great rogaine and a big thanks to all the course setters, vetters and organisers.


Now to hear from the winning team, Ronnie Taib and Dave Williams. Ronnie (below, at left) writes… It was a tough event. On first analysis we thought it was not as brutal in terms of climbs as some other past events. However, the terrain, heat and restricted water made it physically hard, making us sick and on the brink of giving up.

From the NavShield I remembered very beautiful green creek banks, followed by the most devilish scrub I’ve been through and extreme cold at night.

I’m happy to have been back, as this course was mostly open, with some awesome watercourses planted with majestic grey gums. We didn’t find the sort of breathtaking lookouts that the Blue Mountains may offer, but nice views on quiet valleys and on the ancient Yengo. I can totally understand Aboriginals seeing it as a significant location.

Highlights and Lowlights? We got strongly dehydrated, feeling rather sick and unable to eat, hence getting really low on energy. We had to stop twice for more than 30 minutes at water drops, taking a big toll on our morale, but it seems to have been a necessary evil as we became stronger again later.

The main highlight was walking cross country for most of a rogaine, with very little tracks or roads. As said above, some watercourses were memorable.

How can we improve? Rent a helicopter to drop water in more places. Apart from that nothing much. It looked like the course was friendly to people doing 8-hours only. The central Hash House is a great privilege if you intend to come back for food or sleep.

Did you laugh or cry? I’d have happily cried but couldn’t waste any water. The taped tracks were a bit comical as we didn’t seem to follow any until the end – to the flag.

It was very amusing that everyone pretended we had beaten Julie and David. Now that it’s all over, tell us frankly how far behind we really were 🙂

OK, they actually beat you by 230 points, but we penalised them 250 because they’re from Canberra.


Finally, here is Vivien de Remy de Courcelles’ perspective. As course setter for NavShield 2015 and this year’s Champs we can assume that few people know the area as well as he.

Tell us why you wanted this job? I volunteered to set the Champs after a conversation with Gill who told me there was no one to do it, and whilst she was happy to, it would mean that she would not enter a 24-hour rogaine in 2019. I could not possibly let this be … but then Gill took on the organiser’s role … and therefore did not enter the rogaine!

How much time setting the course? I spent only 8 days setting and Emmanuelle and Justine spent 6 days. It feels like not a lot of time because of our knowledge of the area after setting NavShield there in 2015.

We also spent a weekend hanging flags although we did less than others. I’d like to point out that unlike our previous experience hanging flags for the NSW Champs, it was the most social hanging weekend we have had thanks to a crew of 12 people, including ourselves, hanging flags all on the same weekend and camping together on Saturday. I encourage course setters and organisers to organise such a hanging weekend and rogainers to volunteer to hang flags. I will add that flag hanging and vetting is a great way to do the rogaine without the pressure of the clock and therefore is very suited to a family outing. Since Justine was born we have helped with vetting, hanging and retrieving flags at five rogaines and always enjoyed it.

Are you addicted to course-setting? We were asked to set NavShield for the first time in 2014. BWRS (now SES BSAR) needed a course setter and we were wondering what to do with our weekends looking at getting in the bush but mindful that it was more difficult with a 1-year-old in tow or rather in a backpack. Then once you have done one, you feel you need to do it another time to do it better. And why not trying a third time for your best shot. The fourth time it was more a case of “no one else wants to do it” and the fifth time, the original course setter had to attend to a family member early in the process. And then this year I had that conversation with Gill. So not quite a drug although considering I am setting the first event of Sydney Summer Series this year (again) and it is scheduled for 9 October, you might disagree.

I will add that setting navigation courses, similarly to leading walks for my bushwalking club SBW, is a way to show others some nice areas that you might not find easily.

What about the Kiddygaine? Phil and Gill had the idea of the kiddygaine. It was great fun to watch the kids running on the course and I loved that they all did the 8-hour event the day before or delayed their second loop of the 24-hour event or came back early to do the kiddygaine – two events in one weekend, these kids are tough.

Did you climb Big Yango? No, during my first visit to the area I read the info sign that asks not to climb Mt Yengo for cultural reasons. I was also told there is no point in doing so as there are no views at the top.

Highlights? I loved finding Aboriginal sharpening grooves and hand stencils. It was the first time I saw hand stencils apart from well known and usually protected sites. I also loved exploring deeper into some of the creek systems; the cliff lines and massive trees upstream were superb.

Feedback I received was positive. It’s hard to plan a course. I tend to divide my courses and give the same point value to each part.

It was great to have such a good team during the event. I particularly enjoyed our meal time with everyone around the table. There is always a great spirit at rogaines but it was particularly nice to be able to share the moment with all the volunteer helpers.

Any complaints? Scrub yes, although it was from someone who mentioned it in 2015 already and may have won both events! Being a fellow Frenchman I know that we have delicate skin! I think his idea of scrub and mine are quite different … his example was of a creek bed covered with bracken, which does not qualify as scrub in my book, although I did agree with him that this particular section of creek was slow going. He joked that he would call DOCS on us after I told him that Justine did walk that creek bed. Anyway he keeps coming back so he must like it! Besides having soft skin, we French people must be a bit masochistic, or it is a drug as you suggested.

One last thing: I was wondering if those who mentioned dehydration did carry 3L of water as advised in the final instructions. If not perhaps we should work on a way to make some critical info more visible or send a reminder on Facebook: when hanging flags I went through 2L of water in about 6 hours on both days. I did not drink that much on either of my previous visits.

Thankyou Vivien for your efforts, leadership and positivity.


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.

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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

Rogaining Partners – Who needs them!

Posted by Chris Stevenson on 3/10/2001

This article originally written by Sue Clarke, from Newsletter 30, September 1991

Why are rogaines run in pairs? The easy answer is, of course, for safety. However, there is considerable scientific evidence to show that safety is not the major reason for the great attachment that most rogainers have for their partner. After all, how safety conscious can anyone be if their idea of a good time is to spend hours of darkness combing remote corners of the bush for mine shafts, lone stunted trees and the top of a waterfall?

Before a rogaine, a partner offers to hold the torch while you erect the tent, preferably some time after midnight in a howling gale. Rain also helps, but is not vital at this stage. Naturally, by the time your partner is ready to help, the tent is ready for occupation. Next, a partner suggests a route plan that you can shoot down and replace with your own superior plan. Even if your partner’s plan appears at first (or even second) glance to be the only sensible way to go, remember that it is always possible to insist on taking the controls in the reverse order. This will ensure that minimum use is made of daylight, attack points or any other sneaky little tricks that he may have had.

At the start, a partner strides into the vast unknown leaving you to labour with both pencil and control card, so heavily overburdened that it is no wonder that the first control punch fails to make a mark! The discovery of this fact at the next control leads only to a silent accusation of your total incompetence and the forceful removal of the card from your care and protection,

Once away from the Hash House, a partner is someone in whom to place all your trust, following faithfully wheresoever he may wish to lead, be this to the ends of the earth or off the edge of the map, A reliable partner will then refuse to listen to all intelligent suggestions of relocation (´so what if it is 15 km to the nearest identifiable feature’) and insist on climbing every available rise in the search for a tourist information ‘You are here’ sign. In an ideal partnership, this exercise should occupy most of the remaining daylight. As dusk falls, female common sense should eventually prevail and you will be able to lead him back to your last ‘known for-sure’ location. Hopefully it won’t have moved much in the last four hours.

Many partners will be disheartened after such a setback and this will provide you with the perfect opportunity to practice your bush psychology (‘Come along bush, it’s not as bad as all that’) and industrial relations (‘I know it looks like a piddling little knoll, but it is dark and perhaps if you took your sunglasses off for just a brief moment you too would recognise that 500 m ridge to our left’). All but the most determined of partners should be won over by such diplomacy.

All good partners will have seen ‘The Mission’ at least six times and eagerly head for any control clued as ‘The top of the waterfall’. Such controls should only be attempted in the dark so that your partner can then disappear into into the night leaving you to risk life and limb abseiling down without a rope.

The trickiest part of a rogaine is often the return to the Hash House but you can prevent your partner from dashing off in the right direction by your own great care and attention to irrelevant detail. If you make it back, a partner should continuously hassle you, demanding to know your aims and ambitions for the future. This will allow you to display your total control by replying along the lines of ‘Bog off! I’m changing my socks’ before presenting him with the ultimate CP (cunning plan) that combines maximum distance with minimum points. This CP should take you through to dawn, by which time any competent rogainer will have abandoned any artificial forms of light and be fumbling around in the half-light while your partner runs on ahead in a blaze of halogen radiance.

Once the sun has well and truly established itself, a partner should begin leaping around doing star jumps every time you fall a respectful three steps behind. This display is meant to show off his inexhaustible energy and to help you feel revitalised. When the final assault on the Hash House arrives, a partner must contrive to lead you directly home (Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200) with at least one very large hill to climb on the way, Six would even be better.

And when it’s all over and the fat lady has sung, all that remains is to count up the score. At this stage, having discovered how dangerously close he has been to winning, your partner will thank you most graciously for not having punched that first control and beg to be allowed to bring you cups of tea, pieces of cake and anything else you desire before wandering off in search of a good divorce lawyer.

But the real purpose of a rogaining partner is so that nothing that goes wrong need ever be your fault and so that you can convince yourself that you really would have won if only …

Sue Clarkefrom Newsletter 30, September 1991

Egadz! – I’ve become a sports administrator

Posted by Chris Stevenson on 7/10/2001

This article is taken from Newsletter 34, July 1992, written by Warwick Marsden

Ian McKenzie’s two articles in our March newsletter (on selection of teams for the World Champs and whether there should be a change to the convention whereby only the 24 hour event is given championship status) and Michael Burton’s follow up in the last issue (on the selection criteria) have certainly stirred the possum. A number of rogainers have expressed support for the issues raised while others have been dismissive. What I’d like to do is to stimulate the debate further because I feel that rogaining, as we do it in NSW, will be the better for it.

Central to the debate is the way that rogaining has evolved both in Australia and NSW. Those who’ve heard it all before are free to go to the next paragraph. The sport’s roots go back to 1947 when the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club initiated 24 hour walks. An Intervarsity Competition followed in the sixties with a format similar to the rogaines we know today. The VRA was formed in 1976 and WARA several years later. Both States have much larger associations than NSW whose association, the NSWRA was formed in 1983. While there has been a lot of informal contact between the associations, mainly at the annual Australian Championships and orienteering events, there is little in the way of regular contact and exchange of ideas. An Australian Rogaining Association (ARA) exists, as does an IRF (International Rogaining Federation -the Canadians couldn’t handle it being called the IRA!), but to date has done little to develop a national identity for rogaining. And so in NSW we have developed our own identity to a large extent. So much for the history lesson …

The main people responsible for starting the NSWRA in 1983 were Bert and Dianne Van Netten, Ian Dempsey (see the entry form for Bert and Ian’s latest challenge in September!) and Peter and Robyn Tuft (Robyn showed at the recent Paddy Pallin that she’s still as good a rogainer as ever by taking out the Women’s category). For the following few years one or two rogaines were held each year. About this time Trevor Gollan, Peter Wherry, John Keats, myself and a few others became more involved and from 1988, when we took over running the Paddy Pallin, we decided to run four rogaines a year – one 24 hour, two 12 hours and the 6 hour Paddy Pallin with the ACTRA running another two or three – until the NSWRA had grown sufficiently to be able to run more. We felt it was better to run a few events well than to spread our resources too thinly; I think that the success of NSWRA events shows that we made the right decision.

But with the NSWRA turning ten next year perhaps it’s time to not only reassess the number of events but also their nature. (To this end the NSWRA will be holding a ‘think-tank’ later in the year.) In this context I’ll now address the issues raised by Ian and Mike.

World Championships

The issue of the number of entrants at an event is a difficult one and one which we’ve only recently had to address although the VRA and WARA regularly tum people away (the quota is 400). The two main reasons are impact on the environment (and being able to enjoy an event without feeling that you’re never alone – as a team) and catering. The first is very dependent on the area, with many areas being conducive to larger numbers while others may only be suitable for a hundred or so. Catering requires helpers and considerable logistics, both of which are directly proportional to the number of people entered. I see this as the major limitation to increased numbers. We could offer less in the way of catering but I’d be reluctant to promote such a move as it’s the catering which provides the basis for that wonderful ambiance which is so much a part of rogaining.

As for the selection criteria, as the proposer of the original scheme (three 24 hour rogaines and two years membership), I have to admit to making a mistake. A selection criteria should be based on performance! As it’s turned out, NSW won’t fill its quota. This is due to the fact that our quota (which is pro rated according to state membership) is much higher than originally envisaged because of the rapid growth in our numbers over the past couple of years. While some of this increase in membership could be termed ‘highly competitive’ or ‘elite’, the majority would be more accurately termed ‘socially competitive’ or ‘participatory’. I’ll come back to this point, which was the main issue raised by Mike, shortly.

8 Hour Championships?

The 24 hour ‘Championship’ event is one of the aspects of rogaining which we have in common with other states. I believe that there may be a good case for an ‘8 hour Championship’ in the future; some would even say that the 6 hour Paddy Pallin is in effect a short format championship.
This aside, I would like to make several points in answer to Ian. First, the Championship status of the 24 hour event: rogaining is a ‘complex’ tactical sport, far more so than the sports with which Ian drew comparison (running, swimming, cycling), and even it’s close relative, orienteering. An event begins in earnest when the maps are handed out, with the eventual winners of many rogaines being decided in the hours before the start. Out on the course the competition has a number of phases, not the least of which is how to cope with the changes in light and energy levels which come with the night; the greatest challenge often coming after midnight. These elements, which many see as the essence of rogaining, are the reasons for the 24 hour championship status. A shorter championship event would lack some of these elements. I’ll resist drawing an analogy between test match and one day cricket but you’re welcome to!

Second, I would challenge Ian’s premise that there are ‘clearly many rogainers who prefer shorter formals’. The majority of people participating in these events are often not in the ‘highly competitive’ or ‘Championship’ category. Ian is a clear exception. To give short format events which are run in conjunction with longer events championship status would diminish the status of the shorter championship as the majority of the competitive teams would probably be competing in the longer championship. (It’s worth noting that the NSWRA acknowledges that more points may be gained by teams in the shorter event and at this year’s NSW championship the womens class was won by Debbie Cox and Judy Micklewright who were only entered in the 16 hour event.)

Ian wrote his article before competing in longer events en route to the World Championships. I would be pleased to hear whether his views have changed. Also as lan, along with ACT’s Blair Trewin, will probably be NSW’s most competitive team in -the World Championships I’d like to take this opportunity to wish him every success.

Whither rogaining?

Michael Burton sees the forthcoming Rogaining World Championship as heralding a significant change to rogaining in NSW. Having lived with and been part of the changes in rogaining in NSW over the past six years I disagree. The numbers of people attending rogaines in NSW has increased considerably over the past few years and the majority of this increase has been made up by less competitive rogainers. The Paddy Pallin gives a clear indication of this. In 1987 the event drew some 60 participants most of whom were serious orienteers; in 1991 and 1992, when the numbers reached 400, there was still a very strong core of orienteers but their ratio to those who have discovered rogaining as an enjoyable ‘recreational activity, albeit an arduous and adventurous one’ has fallen considerably over the years. This same trend is reflected in other rogaines.

I am not opposed to catering for the ‘new breed’ of rogainer who sees the sport as seriously competitive. My point is that it is important to maintain a balance and not fall into the trap of catering for an unrepresentative minority. In spite of our mistake with the selection criteria NSW appears unlikely to fill its quota for the World Champs – less than 25 (and several of those aren’t members) out of a total membership of about 300.

In the NSW context, I see the offer of prize money at the Lake Macquarie rogaine as having more immediate consequences. If rogaining is to cater for a more competitive breed then there are a number of technical changes which will need to be made. Here are three examples:

  1. Rogaining uses off-the-shelf maps with minimal corrections; will these be acceptable to the serious competitor? To upgrade them to a higher standard would require considerable time and effort and would bring rogaining much closer to orienteering; bushwalkers would see this as a retrograde move.
  2. Policing the rule which requires that teams don’t split up for competitive advantage has been shown to be very difficult. To ensure fair competition under more competitive conditions would be even harder.
  3. At present there’s an acceptance that if a checkpoint is poorly located that it’s unfortunate (hopefully such occurrences are becoming rarer). The nature of the sport is such that these checkpoints are more a talking point than something for which the course setter should be taken to task. To set and vet a course to a higher standard would require even more than the several hundred person hours which are taken at present to set a course.

Yes, these changes can all be made but they will require resources well beyond those presently available in NSW. Personally I believe that our limited resources should be used, in the short term at least, to cater for the majority of rogainers and in recognition that growth in our wonderful sport is coming from a less
competitive new breed. But let’s keep talking about it.

Warwick Marsden, from Newsletter 34 – July 1992

“Sugarloaf Spectacular” Metrogaine

Posted by Chris Stevenson on 20/02/2010

G’day rogainers,

From Richard’s report I see he and his team turned on another very successful event.   Tell us here about your experience at this rogaine and any suggestions that may make for better future rogaines.    If you took any photos and would like to add them to those already on the event page,  give me a call on 6772 3584 and I’ll advise you how to send them.

Graeme Cooper

What is our balance of events like?

Posted on 2/11/2011 by Joel Mackay

Here at the NSWRA committee, we are often pondering over whether we have too many shorter and/or urban events – compared to longer and more distant bush events, or whether we should even be having *more* of them, since they seem to attract larger fields.

We do have a general underlying preference for the bush events, because they get us out into the places that we wouldn’t get to go to otherwise (and the Goulburn river area was an absolutely superb example of that!) – and because there is a larger chance of seeing a wombat, but maybe we are biased…!

What do you think?

  1. Ted Booth on 6/11/2011 at 6:20 PM says:

Great to have the ‘legends’ category in the forthcoming metrogain.

Will provide encouragement and perhaps a laugh to us senior baby boomers – there’s lots coming after the 46’ers!!

2. Nathan Kulinitsch on 7/11/2011 at 9:12 AM says:

hi Guys, i much prefer the bush events and the ones that are longer and have a night nav aspect. For me, the sweet spot are the 12 hour events.

The urban / citi events are a bit boring and i prefer to skip them mostly because if i’m allocating a day of my weekend to come out, a 3 hour event isn’t long enough and the nav itself isnt very challenging.

i would prefer to see at least a 6-12 hour event once a month and than the 24hour events every 3rd month.

know its a bucket load of work organising and getting volies in to help out, but really appreciate all the hard work and effort that goes into them. it’s the one thing i look forward to each month 

– nat (from team 180 degrees north)

3. Carol on 19/11/2011 at 11:20 AM says:

Being a newbie, I like the shorter events and have loved the urban events! 3 and 6 hour events work for me…so I think you have a pretty good balance going!