Orienteering – A Sport for the Whole Family

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For many of us, orienteering is a sport that we have tried, particularly when we were at school. The adrenaline rush of navigating a map whilst competing against another team for time never leaves you. Did you know that we have an orienteering club right here in the Macarthur?

Southern Highlands Occasional Orienteers (SHOO) formed in August 1986 and have been running events around the area ever since. As a Club, they’re seeing a lot of growth now, with lots of people moving to the area and lots of interesting places to do orienteering like schools and natural bushland. They currently have approximately 70 members.

A day of orienteering mainly involves getting you straight into the event! You turn up to the location, register for the event, and get handed a map. Your job is to find all the points on the map (they have a few different formats, like ‘line’ and ‘scatter’ courses) and get back as quickly as possible. Depending how long you have, you can run more than one course on the day as well.

They run quick events close to home, like their current SOS series in local schools, however they also run more full-day traditional bush events with hard core navigation in beautiful, wild areas. The local maps tend to take a lot less time, while for their bush events, you can be out navigating for up to 2 hours.

Once you’re through your courses, everyone generally has a chat about who did what parts well, what problems they had, and laugh at each other’s mistakes.

“I love helping people to live life a little bit more adventurously. Navigation is a super-useful skill, a bit like seeing people making mistakes and learning, particularly out in our beautiful bushland and it is just really rewarding. You see families heading out together, a bit tentative, and then they come sprinting back into the finish, covered in dirt and mud and leaves, laughing together and feeling a sense of achievement – that’s just the best. Our lives can be so clean and controlled and orienteering just lets you loosen all of that up in such good ways. I’m also competitive, and like the racing component at some of the more serious events” explained Dean Williamson from Southern Highlands Occasional Orienteers (SHOO).

From March to September, they run a Forest Series of traditional bush orienteering events across Macarthur and the Southern Highlands. Each of them has coaching and courses that are suitable for newcomers.

For more information, you can join their mailing list by emailing shoo@bigpond.net.au. You can also visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/shoo.orienteering or their website at www.shoo.org.au. Come and make a fun, family day of it!

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