NOY 4 Belford
'Back to Belford'
Venue: Belford NP (which hasn't been used for orienteering since 2002 when the area was tranferred from Forestry to National Parks. Following a submission by the club, orienteering has been included as an permitted activity in the "Plan of Management" for the Park and this is the first of what we hope will be regular events in the forest again.)
Directions: From Branxton travel toward Singleton on the New England Highway. After 4.4 km from the traffic lights at Branxton turn right into Kirkton Road (signposted "Lower Belford") This turn is just after the end of all of the roadworks for the new Hunter Expressway. Travel 2.3km through Belford National Park (sealed road) and park on the roadside as directed. Be aware of other traffic on the road. The assembly area is on the western side of the road at the start of the management trail.
Facilites: There are no toilets or facilities at the park
Map: “Belford National Park” – 1:10,000
Courses: Standard NOY range of courses (7) available. Very Easy, Easy, Short Moderate, Moderate, Hard
Entries: Enter on the day, at time to suit you, 9:30 – 11:30. Courses close at 1:00pm.
Course Planner: Carolyn and Russell Rigby
Note:"No dogs at Orienteering events" is an Orienteering Australia policy. As it is a National Park area, there is a strict NPWS "No Dogs" policy for Belford also. Please do not bring dogs as this would put our access to the area at risk.
From the course setter:
Last Sunday dawned bright, but just not at Belford National Park for NOY4. The rain started as the last controls were put out on Saturday afternoon, and stopped as the last of the controls was picked up on Sunday afternoon. In between more than 60 competitors enjoyed the orienteering delights of Belford NP for the first time since 2003, in spite of the wet conditions. The Hard course lengths were longer than usual, reflecting the fast running in the open forest, but some came unstuck in the subtle drainage systems.
Steve Todkill ran sub-6min/kilometre rate to win by more than 3 minutes over Alex Massey. Alex was enjoying his run so much he found a couple of places to extend the course length by taking the long option past the control. A special mention goes to Craig Browett who abandoned his course to bring back the local landowner's dog which followed him into the forest, and then got very cold, wet and miserable.
Andrew Power had a good win on the Medium Hard course, although had Graeme Taplin only passed other runners once he would have been very competitive. There are some interesting comparisons on the Routegadget tracks.
Arthur Kingsland blitzed the Short course, almost 7 1/2 minutes faster than Robert Preston. Andrew Morris had a slower than usual walk in the forest after a recent knee injury (while swimming!)
The Easy and Very Easy courses were treated to some different terrain and control features because of the open forest.This also provided some adventures in the rain.
Belford has not been used for Orienteering since National Parks took over full control of the area from Forestry. Early in 2010 the club responded to the draft Plan of Management, requesting access to the forest, and this was included in the final POM issued at the end of 2010. In the meantime the result of droughts and flooding rains was that many of the termite mounds and native cherry trees had disappeared; the closure of the forest to grazing and vehicles made the tracks less distinct; and the spread of African olive thickets slowed the runnability in patches. The map was updated to reflect these changes, but is still a work in progress. National Parks rangers recently poisoned large areas of African olive, and conducted a hazard reduction burn in the southwestern corner during May. With the Hunter Freeway opening in 2013, next year's event should be even more attractive.
A report on the wildlife is appropriate for a National Park. There was no sign during the event of the 2 snakes spotted during course setting and the frog that took up residence in the carpet roll on the western fence crossing was very surprised to be thrown out of his new home later in the afternoon. Did anyone see an eagle in the eagle's nest sighted by Robert Preston southwest of the assembly area?
Thanks to Richard Harris at NPWS Bulga for his assistance. Thanks also to Denis Lyons, Rob Vincent, Dave Messenger and Lynda Hewson for collecting controls after the event, and to everyone who helped with the set-up and packing of the equipment.