What does Orienteering involve?
Orienteering involves using a detailed map and usually a compass to navigate one's way round a course with designated control points (check points), which are drawn on the map. On the route, orange and white control markers are set in the places that correspond to the points on the map. Once the competitor has selected the best route to the control and found it they punch or mark their control card. The winner of the competition is the participant who has used the shortest time to visit all the control points in numerical order. Fast running alone does not make you a winner. You must also choose the best route between the control points and find the markers without wasting unnecessary time. If you like a challenge, fresh air, and exploring the countryside:Orienteering could be the sport for you!
Where are events held?
The club has maps of bush and parkland areas within the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Cessnock, Port Stephens and Singleton areas.
When are events held?
Winter Bush events are scheduled roughly fortnightly between late March and early October (with a weekly "Summer Street Series" filling the gap). Bush events are held on Sunday mornings (Street events Wednesday evenings). See our events page on the club website or request a newsletter.
What time do they start?
Due to the nature of the sport, starts are staggered. Participants can start anytime between 9:30am and 11:30am. This flexibility is brilliant allowing you to either have a bit of a sleep in or alternately start earlier if you have an engagement later that day.For your first event I would advise you to arrive earlier rather than later as you will need some instruction before commencing!
How difficult is it?
Orienteering courses are structured into 4 navigational difficulty levels. Participants select which level they wish to do depending on their experience and navigational ability. These levels are given colour-coded names.
- Very Easy: Very easy navigation for juniors or beginners. All controls are on tracks or along fences and are readily visible.
- Easy: Easy navigation, controls placed near tracks and fences, or some readily identifiable feature.
- Moderate: Moderate navigation requiring better map-reading skills. Some controls located away from tracks requiring cross-country navigation. Route choice options will require some decision-making.
- Hard: Difficult navigation needing good map reading skills. Most controls require cross-country navigation and may not be visible from line of approach. Wider choice of routes means greater decision-making.
Orienteering is sometimes known as the family sport due to the fact that everyone can participate at the one venue (we even have babies taken around in backpacks). Realistically though, juniors need to be about 8 years old to undertake a course by themselves, but there is no upper limit and we have had people up to 80 years old competing. Our club is a mixture of all age groups and we have many family memberships.
How competitive is it?
You may wish to amble around a course and enjoy the scenery or be competitive by going as fast as you can. It's up to you. For those of a non-competitive nature you can undertake a course as a wayfarer where your time is not recorded or published.
Can we participate as a group?
We have many participants that do the course in small groups. They are generally newer members or small family groups. When you gain more experience you will probably prefer the challenge of completing the course by yourself.
How long are the courses?
Distances tend to increase the harder you go up the navigational scale. Typical distances are;
- Very Easy 1.5-2.5 km
- Easy 2.0-3.0 km
- Short Moderate2.5-3.0 km
- Long Moderate3.5-4.0 km
- Short Hard3.0-3.5 km
- Medium Hard 3.5-5.5 km
- Long Hard 5.0-8.0 km
How long will it take me?
Typical times for most competitors are between 45 and 75 minutes but can vary greatly. An experience junior running a 1.5 km course could complete it in as little as 15 minutes (or even less) while others walking around harder courses can take up to 2 hours.
Do I need to be a member?
We understand that orienteering may not suit everyone so we encourage you to try a couple of events before joining.
What are the fees?
Our current event entry fees are:
Our club is non-profit with all takings going back towards equipment, access fees and mapping.
What should I wear/bring?
Comfortable walking or jogging shoes with good grip are recommended. Old (you may get them dirty or even ripped) tee shirt and shorts or loose trousers on courses that venture off the tracks. Think about bringing a hat or cap and/or sunscreen. If you have a compass you may wish to bring it, but DO NOT BUY ONE, as the one you purchase may not be suitable.
Where do I buy a map?
Orienteering maps are very detailed and specifically made by and owned exclusively by the individual clubs. They are provided at events and cannot be obtained anywhere else.
Is coaching available?
The club coach has a few (very popular) training sessions throughout the year to assist people improve their navigation. At regular club events it is strongly recommended that you ask either the coach or other experienced club member for any advice both before and especially after you undertake your course. Most people are very willing to assist those wishing to improve their navigational skills.
What isn't permitted?
Dogs, fires and smoking are all banned from the parking, assembly and competition areas.
Are events cancelled due to bad weather?
Events would only be cancelled if there were extreme weather conditions or fire risks.
Is the sport dangerous? Am I insured?
There are inherent dangers for anyone travelling in a natural environment, but bad injuries are rare. Even elite orienteers travelling at fast speed through the bush would suffer vastly fewer injuries than those playing any contact style sport. While the club has public indemnity insurance, it does not cover you for personal injury.
>Risk Notice: In entering any orienteering event, competitors recognise that the activity has certain inherent risks due to its conduct in urban and natural environments. Included in these risks are injury due to rough terrain and obstacles, vehicular traffic and the effects of heat, cold and exhaustion. Competitors are also aware that there is no personal accident insurance on their participation in the sport and that they take part at their own risk. Street Orienteering in particular is not suitable for young children to undertake on their own. An adult must supervise participating juniors.
What other orienteering events are there?
Once you gain a little bit of experience you may wish to travel to events further a field than the local area. Each weekend during the season there would be at least one event contested somewhere within NSW. There are State, National and international levels of competition available with most offering classes or categories to fit all ages and abilities. There are also other types including mountain bike orienteering (BOSS, MTBO).