ACT Orienteering Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Broulee Event | Canberra time

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When David Hogg started orienteering in Canberra 50 years ago, he was sent into the bush with a big compass and a hand-drawn map. As the sport prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in the capital, Hogg is shocked to see how much orienteering has changed. Oversized compasses have been replaced with a lightweight thumb attachment, while maps are computer-digitized and include everything from contour lines to termite mounds. “It’s been very satisfying to watch orienteering develop, I’ve certainly enjoyed seeing how it has developed and especially how people have joined us,” Hogg said. Hogg was president of the Melbourne-based Orienteering Federation Australia in 1970 and when he moved to Canberra in 1971 he introduced the capital to sport. He tracked down a map of Black Mountain from a geography teacher and redrawn it to use for orientation purposes. With the help of a few donated compasses and word of mouth, 21 competitors took part in the first orienteering event in Canberra on May 16, 1971. Half a century later, 430 orienteers will contest a Golden Jubilee event in Broule this weekend. As the popularity of orienteering has grown year on year, the sport has had to evolve to keep up with demand and grow with the new technology available. MORE FROM CANBERRA SPORT “The new technology has definitely made organizing a lot easier in many ways,” Hogg said. “It made it a more precise sport in terms of the navigation required and for most people it made it more enjoyable.” Orienteering ACT board member Bob Mouatt is also amazed at the growth of the sport in his 44 years of involvement in Canberra. “Everything was manual originally, I organized my first event in 1978, everything was manual – we had to type things into typewriters and now everything is electronic,” Mouatt said. One thing that hasn’t changed is Mouatt’s love and passion for orienteering, and he was instrumental in organizing this weekend’s event. “We expected to only get 200 to 250, we started to see registrations go up to over 300 and up to 430, we were taken by surprise,” Mouatt said. “Even though I’m 82 and have osteoarthritis in my ankle, I had a total knee replacement, a hip replacement that I still manage to do. I like the challenge. ” Participating in the event are the Cockatoos of Canberra, a group made up of the best orienteers in the capital. They will face competition from athletes from across Australia. Grace Crane, a representative of Canberra Cockatoo and Australia, fell in love with the sport at a young age. “I started orienteering at the end of primary school when there was a series of twilights on a Wednesday after school, I went there and got hooked very quickly,” said Crane . Crane represented Tasmania before moving to Canberra and represented Australia for nearly 20 years winning multiple titles. She also holds the accolade for having the best result of an Australian relay team at the World Orienteering Championships, when she finished fourth in 2006. She will face South Australia’s Olivia Sprod this weekend. in a rare head-to-head head race, meaning the contestants will start at the same time. “It will make it very difficult because with orienteering you have to think about where you are going and so many other things.” Crane is married to Cockatoos manager Matt, who expected a strong performance from the Canberra side. “We have a great team, it’s the last race of the weekend so we’ll all be there strong and hope to finish in style,” he said. Another 50th anniversary celebration will take place in Canberra next Wednesday, with a rerun of the first race at Black Mountain. The event coincides with World Orienteering Day and Hogg encouraged Canberrans to come and try the sport. “Anyone thinking of coming, come see what it’s like, ask for help if you need it, and see where you go from there,” Hogg said. Orienteering ACT will host a 50th anniversary event on Wednesday, May 19 at Black Mountain beginning at noon. The event is open to the public free of charge and participants are encouraged to pre-register.


Dino J. Dotson