How did you first get involved in rogaining?
In my first year of uni (1972) some other members of the uni bushwalking club took part in the “Intervarsity Orienteering” and came back with bizarre tales of walking for 24 hours through mountainous bushland in the NSW New England region. The following year I was part of our uni team for an event near Yea in Victoria. Despite the name there was very little difference from what we now know as rogaining. However one difference was that a team member could withdraw and the rest of the team could continue without penalty. I took advantage of that when our team set off again before dawn after a break at the Hash House (HH) - I’d well and truly had enough for one outing. Didn’t stop me from participating again in future though. A mere two years later we were setting the Intervarsity course near Hartley in NSW.
How has the sport of rogaining evolved since you first started participating, and what changes have you seen in the community of rogainers over the years?
The basic format of rogaining has changed negligibly since long before the name was even invented. But there have been a number of other changes such as the introduction of shorter events, the level of organisation and the quality of courses (in most cases). The big change in the rogaining community is the age profile. In the 1970 all rogainers were uni students. Now there are people from small children to octogenarians. And people who cannot be called young often do better than the twenty-somethings who in other sports would have a major advantage.
Another comment on the rogaining community, which is probably not a change but interesting anyway: At the 2016 World Championships near Alice Springs we ran a survey of competitors which asked a wide range of questions. One striking outcome was that rogainers predominantly come from a STEM background, quite often at a moderately high academic level. There are exceptions of course, but that perhaps reflects the somewhat analytical approach necessary for both overall strategy and tactical navigation.
Could you share a particularly memorable or challenging rogaining experience that you've had, and what you learned from it?
I think my most memorable experience was quite recent (but that’s not the reason it’s memorable). I get more enjoyment out of helping to set a course than actually competing (less pressure, less bodily abuse, much more interesting navigation because there isn’t a marker to confirm you are in the right spot). One day while placing markers for the postponed Midlands Muster event I had not got my compass out when I set off from the car. The first checkpoint looked findable without it so I pressed on and had no trouble. Since that was okay I thought I’d see how many more markers I could place without my compass, and in the end it stayed in my pack all day, and again the next time I went out for a day of setting (and again later when we had to bring all the markers in again, sadly). The ability to navigate with that level of precision without using a compass is only possible because of the accuracy of the maps that are now generated from LiDAR including highly precise vegetation mapping. It gives me a real buzz.
How do you typically prepare for a rogaining event, both physically and mentally? Do you have any tips for newcomers who are looking to get started?
To be honest I don’t do any particular preparation other than very regular bushwalking that keeps me in shape. I’m not a seriously athletic person seeking top performance. I just want to be able to get around the course OK. Back when I was a uni student we used to do extra long bushwalks as training for the Intervarsity events, say 35 km and 2500 m ascent in a day.
What do you think sets Rogaining Tasmania apart from other rogaining communities, and what opportunities are available for people to get involved in the local scene?
Tasmania has a small population and RT is a small organisation! I think we punch above our weight given our size, but small size is a definite constraint on what we can do. Opportunities to get involved - lots! We really need more people prepared to have a go at setting a course. Anyone who would like to help in any way will be welcomed with open arms and the old hands in RT will give you all the guidance and support we can.
What's your favourite map of all time?
Favourite map was Ross River (East MacDonnell Ranges) for the World Champs in 2016. I was involved in helping set the course, not competing, but it was my first experience on a custom LIDAR-based map with highly precise contours that showed the intricate terrain in wonderful detail. And of course the terrain and vegetation was so completely different to anything I’d experienced in NSW or Tasmania.
What's your favourite Tasmanian map?
Hmm ... perhaps the Bruny Island map for the event in February 2021. Again, I was setting rather than competing, but Bruny offers a delightful mix of relatively easy terrain, mostly open vegetation and glorious coastal scenery that I thought made it particularly enjoyable rogaining country.