O-Ringen is the largest orienteering event in the world. It takes place each year in the Swedish midsummer. The event consists of five races over six days. It attracts over 20,000 entrants. Every year it is attended by a number of travelling Australian orienteers, including some from Bendigo. This year there were four Bendigo entrants- Alison, Tony, Jim and Toph.
While the travelers are away, most of us remain here through the Bendigo winter attending our local events. Sometime late last year an idea took shape – can we organise a local event that will make the travelling orienteers wish they were back in Bendigo, if only for a weekend? What can Bendigo offer orienteering that few other clubs around the world can? Evan Barr first gave an answer to this question some years ago when he floated the idea of a weekend of sprint length races on the small detailed mining landscapes that are scattered across Bendigo. This year our fixture gave the idea a run. A short length local event took place on Bird’s Reef on Saturday. On Sunday a progressive dinner style event took place on four small maps n the Epsom-Eaglehawk area. Competitors drove between maps and ran a small course on each. The time driving was not included in the competitive time. Fifty-five people pre-entered (Enter on the Day was too hard to manage for the single organiser). As promised, the sun eventually shone and most entrants had an enjoyable and memorable time in this unusual event format including a panoramic view of the final competition area from the top of the Pearl Mine mullock heap.
At some point during the day in a conversation we were all reminded that O-Ringen was taking place on the same weekend. We realized that whilst the travelers in Europe were running five races over six days, we were running five races over two days. The phrase “BendigO-Ringen” was coined with the slogan “Why run five in six when you can run five in two!”. The obvious question soon followed- can we organise this event on O-Ringen weekend next year, and maybe the following year, and maybe… The main issues are whether we have the maps and the volunteer enthusiasm. This year the event had a single organiser. With nothing else going on in my life, a single organiser was a feasible concept. However, life threw up a few curve balls in the lead up to the event including a serious family illness and autumn prescribed burning of one of the maps necessitating a late remap. The organization became a bit rushed. A small team of two or three would have been an improvement.
As to the maps, well the event this year scratched the potential surface. We used Birds Reef on the Saturday and White Hill No 4, Perfumed Garden, St Justs Point and Prince of Wales on the Sunday. A potential structure for next year would be to use Royal George Company for a usual Saturday event and St Just’s (to be remapped to ISSOM sprint specification), New Saint Mungo, South Star and New Argus on the Sunday. The maps run in an arc from the Calder Highway to Eaglehawk through the forests to the west of Bendigo. There are a couple more contending maps in Bendigo- Golden Gully, Ironstone Hill and the south end of Fiddlers Green. Beyond that we need to head further afield to unmapped areas to the west. There are potentially two very interesting small areas around Tarnagulla. There is another very detailed area near Dunolly. (We have lidar data for two of these three). There is another potential area near Bealiba and two near Inglewood. Finally, there are possibly four areas to the south of Castlemaine, one at Maldon and two near Harcourt if we include a remap of Black Jack Gully. That is potentially a total of 25 maps. None of these areas is large enough to support a standard local event let alone a State Series. At four maps used a year (with a normal scale map on the Saturday) it might be possible to run a similar event for five or six years without repeating maps if the enthusiasm did not wane.
How often do you run on an orienteering course set by a nonagenarian? Last Saturday the Bendigo Orienteers Saturday event was course set by Ian Johnson as a celebration of his 90th birthday. Each year for the past decade or more Ian has set the Saturday courses to mark his birthday. These courses have usually been set on the Black Jack Gully map that Ian field-worked in his late 70s. This year the marking of his 90th was seen as a milestone. Ian set the courses well in advance, but for the first time, was unable to place the control stands himself. John Wilkinson and Colin Walker stepped in to make sure the event took place. For the past month or so Ian has been living in Melbourne with relatives whilst overcoming some health problems. Despite these difficulties, he made the journey back from Melbourne to attend the event. Club President Andrew Wallace and immediate past OV president Mark Hennessy shared some memories of Ian’s recent and past contributions to the sport of orienteering. Mark reminded us all of Ian’s contribution to the development of Victoria’s first specialized orienteering maps. Orienteer and professional cakeologist Leisha Maggs produced a wonderful birthday cake and even the weather held off its rain until after the conclusion of celebrations. The day was a memorable celebration for Ian and the Bendigo Orienteers.
Ian Johnson is the oldest member of the Bendigo Orienteering Club. His 90th birthday comes up in August 2018 and the club will celebrate the occasion at his micro-sprint event at Black Jack Gully near Castlemaine on August 11th. Ian still competes in events although he is now slowing down a bit, but he still enjoys the bush and finding controls. We wonder how many people reading this will still be able to navigate their way around the Bendigo bush when they are 90 years old.
Ian recently had operations on his legs to improve circulation. We hope he is able to make it to his event – John Wilkinson and Colin Walker will organise things for Ian’s event (which Ian has course set). Hopefully plenty of members can attend.
Ian retired from primary teaching in 1986, and came to live near Castlemaine. His first venture into orienteering was on a novice course at an event in 1971 at St George’s Lake in the Creswick Forest. He can remember that the controls were buckets hanging by a rope with pens of different colours to mark the spaces on the map. The first event Ian organised was on June 1st 1975 on a map he helped to field work and draw. The longest course was 3.75 km with 13 controls. The cost of entry was only 20 cents, and compass hire the same.
Ian is an avid environmentalist and his knowledge of indigenous plants is second to none; he has written numerous documents on his observations of micro climate and vegetation changes and many articles on navigational techniques as used in orienteering. His property at Harcourt is not connected to electricity and he lives a Spartan and totally carbon neutral lifestyle.
Peter Creely, another long-standing patron of orienteering, described Ian Johnson as “an amazing person, … a “living legend” of the Bendigo Orienteering Club and an individual the like of whom we will probably never see again”.
All are invited to stay and celebrate Ian’s birthday at his event on the 11th August in the company of other club members. Our resident pâtissière, Leisha Maggs, will make Ian’s birthday cake and the club will supply meat for a BBQ.
If other members wish to bring something to share that would be appreciated.
For directions and event information (follow link): https://eventor.orienteering.asn.au/Events/Show/6291
Seven of our young members have been selected to represent Victoria at the Australian Schools Orienteering Championships. The championships will be held late in September in South Australia. These members are:
- Karina Cherry
- Serryn Eenjes
- Michael Loughnan (traveling reserve)
- Archie Neylon (traveling reserve)
- Caitlyn Steer
- John Steer
- Sophie Taverna
Another member, Bryan Keely, currently based in Sweden, has been selected to represent Australia in the World Orienteering Championships. This is being held in Latvia in early August.
Bendigo Orienteers is providing financial support to these members to cover some of their costs such as travel and accommodation.
We congratulate these members on their selection and wish them all the best in their events.
It was an early start for the wheel cactus volunteers, arriving at the Crystal Mine car park near Mt Kooyoora at 9 am. In keeping with the environmental theme a car pool was organised, with eight volunteers travelling from Bendigo in two cars.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a very cold and strong wind. Much to our surprise, outdoor ed students from Latrobe uni were also in the area to practice their orienteering skills. The students had seen wheel cactus plants in the area, including a plant near one of their controls.
James Nelsson from Loddon Plains Landcare Network and his wife Trudy soon arrived with all the wheel cactus eradication equipment. This time the volunteers decided to split into teams to cover a greater area. My team set off for the steep northern slope of Mt Kooyoora while the other teams hunted in the area where the outdoor ed students had seen the wheel cactus plants.
Luckily the cold wind died down and it became a warm and pleasant morning. My team was guided by Julie Flynn who did a great job of picking an easy path over Mt Kooyoora. After a bit of searching, we spotted a large patch of wheel cactus and set to work. This patch had been tackled at the last wheel cactus day but it was so large and thick that the inner plants couldn’t be reached. Ten months after poisoning, the outer plants had rotted to the ground and the inner plants were now all accessible.
It seems that even the hardy wheel cactus can struggle in dry Australian conditions; the plants were much thinner and softer than they were in the previous year. This made them much harder to inject with the poison, so progress was slow. Eventually all the wheel cactus plants in the area had been injected, just in time to get back to the car park for lunch.
As the volunteers sat together in the wonderful autumn sunshine and enjoyed our lunch we were all satisfied that we had done our bit to fight the wheel cactus scourge. Kooyoora is such a fantastic area, not just for the challenging orienteering but also its natural beauty. It truly deserves our care and protection.
A big thank you to James and Trudy Nelsson for supplying the equipment, and volunteers Neil Barr, Julie Flynn, Andrew Lewis, Lorraine Leversha, Jim Russell, Dianne Searle and Peter Searle.
The next wheel cactus eradication day at Mt Kooyoora will be held on Sunday 29th April. This initiative is being supported by Bendigo Orienteers, Loddon Plains Landcare Network and Parks Victoria. Volunteers are required to participate in the eradication of the wheel cactus plants. The work itself is not very physically demanding but volunteers need to be fit enough to walk to the wheel cactus plants growing on Mt Kooyoora’s steep northern slope. All the necessary equipment and training will be provided. If you are interested in volunteering or want to know more, please contact Andrew Wallace.
About Wheel Cactus:
The Wheel Cactus, native to Mexico, is considered a Weed of National Significance in Australia as it spreads rapidly and is difficult to destroy. The plants produce fruit containing numerous seeds. Birds and foxes consume the fruit, then spread the seeds far and wide. Wheel cactus grows particularly well in shallow granitic soils. The plants have distinctive wheel shaped segments that are covered with fine sharp spines, up to 5 cm long. These can easily pierce a person’s skin.
Wheel cactus plants have been spreading in the northern part of the Kooyoora State Park for many years. If this is allowed to continue it will make this area much less favourable for orienteering events. Furthermore, the natural beauty of this area will be significantly degraded.
A very effective method of eradicating wheel cactus plants is to poison them with Glyphosate (commonly known as Roundup). The poison is carried in a knapsack and is fed through a flexible tube to a hand-held pump that is adjusted to deliver a precise dose of the poison. To the pump is attached a hollow lance with a sharp tip. The lance is inserted into the wheels of the cactus plants and the poison is injected. This method minimises harm to the surrounding native vegetation and keeps the user away from the cacti’s sharp spines.
PLEASE NOTE NEW START TIMES: Courses 1 to 3 start at 9 am. Course 4 and 5 entrants can start between 9.05 am and 9.30 am but are welcome to join the mass start at 9 am.
The Heathcote Hagaby is being held on Sunday the 4th of March. The event is on an area of gentle spur gully and mining terrain that was recently mapped by Neil Barr. Neil is also the course setter for this event. There are five courses from 8.0 km hard to 2.7 km easy. Courses 1 to 3 have a Hagaby format. This means that the entrants start together but the variations on each course causes the field of entrants to seperate. The event is pre-entry and pre-pay only on Eventor at https://eventor.orienteering.asn.au/Events/Show/6227. You must be logged onto Eventor before entering. The normal entry deadline is at midnight on Wednesday 28th February.
Directions: From the main road through Heathcote turn south onto Spring Flat Rd. Follow signs from Headley’s Dam Track.
The Fowl and Fizz will be held on Sunday 4th February at the Koolamurt Park Scout Camp.
There will be a 45 minute score event with a 7 am mass start. This will be followed by a Chicken and Champagne breakfast. Juice and water will also be provided. After our breakfast there will be a brief Special General Meeting (SGM). At the SGM we will have another 2017 financial report and welcome our new committee members.
The Fowl and Fizz was a late inclusion in our fixture and we have not applied for an event permit. Consequently, there is a limit of 30 competitors for this event. Based on the numbers from previous years, this should be sufficient. If you want to compete you must pre-enter on Eventor (follow link). There is no such restriction for members who just want to attend the breakfast and SGM.
If you only want to attend the breakfast and SGM do not pre-enter on Eventor. Instead contact Julie Flynn by the 1st of February so she knows the total number of people to cater for. If you are coming, please bring a chair.
Directions from Bendigo:
Southbound on Spring Gully Rd, continue straight through the roundabout onto Mandurang Rd. After 1.1 km turn right into the Koolamurt Park Scout Camp. Park in the nearby carpark and proceed on foot along the track to the shelter.
Bendigo Orienteers will have its final event for the year on Saturday 25 November, at the South Mandurang recreation reserve, commencing at 12:30pm.
There will be a fun short orienteering event followed by our Annual General Meeting and trophy presentations, with a shared social BBQ lunch.
Meat, vege burgers and drinks (non alcoholic) will be provided by the club. Please bring either a salad or dessert to share.
Club members are asked to consider nominating for a position on the committee to help guide the club over the next 12 months.
Despite the exodus of Bendigo orienteers to Bathurst for the Australian Championships over the next two weekends, it is business as usual in Bendigo with an event at Longlea, a 15 minute drive east via Strathfieldsaye towards Eppalock. In response to a call for a course setter, Mark Hennessy volunteered to course set at short notice. I went out on Tuesday and tagged some of his sites, and was pleased to email Mark as follows: “I think your courses are pretty good; they will be both challenging & enjoyable”.
Mark tells us the theme is “gentle relief” after the rigours of the Creswick gold diggings last weekend. The terrain is gently undulating, but with enough bends in the few contours to help you navigate. The ground is generally soft, without much rock underfoot. The bush is generally open and easy to move through, with some wattle blooms fading and others still bright yellow. There are no steep hills or erosion gullies (there is one, a metre deep, but no one has to cross it).
Mark has been offered assistance from Andrew Wallace, David Jones and Nigel McGuckian. Thanks to all. Look for O-signs to the right, immediately after Gleesons Road. Start time as usual is 12.30 to 2 pm, with courses closing at 3 pm. Offers to collect controls will be welcome.