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Introduction to Orienteering

First, check out the videos

Orienteering for the Young and Free


Orienteering for All Ages


'Cunning Running':  If you can read a street directory, you can orienteer! 

We give you

  • a specially made orienteering map that uses world-wide standardised symbols

  • a 'clue sheet' using standardised symbols or in English for beginners (see Maps and Symbols page to read about Beginner's Essentials). 

You bring a simple compass, good walking shoes, a water bottle and sun-cover. 

Your goal is to find the orange-and-white control flags and dip your timing stick into the electronic box at each (these can be hired).  At your first event, tell the organisers and a coach will be on hand to get you going.

Read up: The 'Getting Started Guides' written by Garingal member Barbara Hill for Orienteering Australia.

The Hare and the Tortoise Sport: The clock might be the driving force for some, but for others it's simply the freedom of being outdoors.  So forget the 'running' in cunning running?  Walking in the right direction saves time as against running in the wrong direction.  Regardless, you'll see amazing places!


'Orienteering: It's Mental':  Many participate for the physical challenge, others more so for the mental challenge.  The route between designated control points is your choice.  The fittest do not always win!  Coordinate body & brain and keep your wits.  Understand your physical limitations - fortunately course lengths are adjusted for age.

'Orienteers are Control Freaks':  You know you're in the right place if the control flag's number matches the code on your clue sheet.  Organisers know you went there because the electronic dip-stick you dip at each control imprints the time of day and the control's ID. You download your stick to the Finish computer (note: you must download even if you did not visit all controls!).  You'll get a printout like a shopping docket showing your time splits for each control - let the analyses begin!

'Orienteers Run the Country':  Anyone can attend pretty well any event in Australia - see Calendar/Event-Entry website Eventor.  Each state manages its clubs to stage events so none clash within a region.  With 12 clubs across NSW, there'll be some amazing adventures!

'Orienteers Do It in the Bush':  Not always....  There are many urban events: late afternoon weekdays, weekends, even at night time.  There are courses where you run/walk, cycle, ski, or even kayak.  You can also do 3-D orienteering up-and-down complex building sites, or,  navigate your way through complex mazes.

'Sport for Life':  You can 'dip into' orienteering whenever you feel like it, there are no 'season' commitments.  Courses offer at each event cover long, short, easy to navigate, 'hard as' navigation.  Local events offer fewer courses, but major events might have 16 courses or more (click here to see the range of offerings for the 2022 Easter carnival).  Courses allow for that particular terrain, created to meet a narrow winner's time range.  Thus, various age/gender/experience groupings can easily be accommodated.  Of course, there is lots of  socialising: people of all ages stand around the Finish with map in hand to lament their latest mistake.

'Orienteering - The Family Sport':  Every member of the family can find a course to suit!  We often see three generations of the one family at an event.


'See The Forest AND The Trees':  For the competitive, there are Points Series, Championships and Club Trophies.  But many are only 'sort of competitive'.  They get to know who is around their own level, be it mid-field or wooden-spooner, and compete against them.  Many orienteers simply see our sport as their chance to get outdoors, see new places, see new plants, see wild places.

'In Orienteering No-one Sits on the Bench':  Orienteering is largely a solo sport.  If you are a club member you can enter the Australian Championships direct!  There are occasions for Teams events and Relays - but moderately easy courses are offered too so everyone can have a go.  A note about responsibilities: It is hoped that every member of a club will be a helper at least one event a year and support the designated Organiser in some way or another.  All events conducted by the clubs are generally manned exclusively by volunteers.

'Winning isn't everything':  Going orienteering is a great chance to mix with others and make new friends.   Young or old, chatting with others at the Finish takes on a new dimension; not just a place for socialising, but also the place for comparing and learning.  There's always someone to talk through your course with you and give you tips!  Après-O can be at the coffee shop, or for late afternoon events at a local pub or restaurant for dinner.  Many orienteers have become friends for life.

'Education is Important, Especially My Orienteering Education':   National Accredited Coaching Framework is in use.  Juniors can go to School Holiday Camps where kids from all clubs go away together supervised by parents and coaches.  Garingal offers Junior Travel Awards to support families with costs.  Late teens/young adult members are taken into the State Training Squad and into the National Orienteering League where high performance coaches ensure they meet their full potential.  Adults new to the sport generally receive most of their training informally through chatting with experienced club members post-race.  But coaching clinics for adults are held every so often.  The Saturday Orienteering Series offers free coaching for all on Saturday mornings, as well as Women-only or Mixed Training Weekends (see the Bold Horizons website).

Here's a Fun Fact: The only criterion to enter the World Masters Orienteering Championships is that you be a member of a Club.  The qualification races are integrated into the week of events, and everyone gets into the Final (albeit, the A Final, B Final or C Final).

Video credits:  Toph Naunton from Living it Live      Photo credits:  Tony Hill (Garingal Orienteers)

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