If you enjoy the outdoors and like to combine exercise with a challenge, then orienteering may be the activity for you. Albury Wodonga Orienteering Club (AWOC) provides a variety orienteering events ranging, from traditional bush orienteering (Bush O), to mountain bike events (MTBO) and races around the local parks and streets (Park & Street or Street O).
Orienteering is an international sport that offers unique opportunities for travel and exploring new locations. It’s an incredibly friendly and open community with competitors ranging in age from under 10 to over 90. Almost all orienteering events worldwide are open to anyone, no matter your skill or experience, allowing you to participate no matter where you may travel. Different events are held most of the year.
What is Orienteering?
The concept of orienteering is very simple – navigate your way around a course, locating ‘controls’ as fast as you can. The are different formats and locations but that basic concept remains.
Locally, in the Albury-Wodonga region, we are fortunate to have some of the world’s best orienteering terrain, especially for bush orienteering; the spur-gully, granite and gold mining areas are fantastic for orienteering.
Who is it for?
Almost everyone! Courses are offered to suite different physical abilities and navigational skill, with competitors ranging from young and inexperienced to ‘mature’ and experienced, and everything in between. Kids from about 10 years of age are able to complete courses on their own, while younger kids may require some assistance. The oldest orienteers are in their 90s!
It doesn’t matter if you’re not able to run or if you can only run short distances. And all events provide less physically demanding options, avoiding the most difficult terrain.
Types of Orienteering
Bush orienteering involves navigating your way around a cross-country course, via a series of checkpoints (‘controls’) marked physically with orange-and-white control markers. A specially drawn orienteering map is provided for each course and you select your route between controls. Easy courses follow tracks, fences and other ‘linear’ features to make navigation easy. Moderate courses provide more navigation choices and controls that are a little more challenging to locate. Hard courses are mostly off-track in more demanding terrain with controls that require accurate navigation to locate. Bush O courses typically range from about 2 km for easy courses up to 8 km for hard courses at the local level, while courses up to 18 km are available at bigger events.
Park & Street orienteering follows a similar format although controls tend to be easier to locate and the terrain less demanding. Events are often time-limited and, instead of locating controls in a specified order, the most common format requires competitors to locate as many controls as possible within the time limit – 45 minutes is a common time limit used locally.
Mountain bike orienteering is, as the name suggests, done on a bike. Courses use a selection of roads, tracks and single-path (narrow tracks), with controls being easy to locate but route choice and navigation between controls being crucial. Courses vary in length and difficulty to suite a wide range of abilities, with options between 10 km and 25 km typically being offered.
Ski orienteering is also available, although the number of events is limited and they are not run by AWOC.
Orienteering does not require any expensive equipment. To start with all you will need is a pair of comfortable, sturdy shoes or runners and some old clothes. Long pants are generally recommended for bush orienteering and be sure to bring warm clothes to change into afterwards if the weather is cool. Make sure you bring a water bottle to events. Compasses are only required on harder Bush O courses and can usually be borrowed at each event. Specialist clothing and equipment can be acquired as you become more involved, depending on your own needs.
Help – Coaching – Training
Help is available to all participants at every event and orienteers are all very giving with their time and knowledge – even the highest-level competitors happily share their knowledge. AWOC also runs dedicated training days.
AWOC’s policy is to encourage maximum participation by keeping costs to a minimum with a small charge at each event for maps, and discounts for club members. Entry to local events ranges from $5 to $12 for adults and $2 to $4 for juniors (20 and under).
How to find an event
Australian events, including local AWOC events, are listed on Eventor. For local Albury-Wodonga events you can also request to be added to our mailing list.
Links to the state orienteering associations from this site provide a rich source of detailed information about the sport of orienteering.