What is Orienteering?
The aim in orienteering is to navigate your way around a course
with a series of checkpoints called controls. The course is marked on
a map provided by the organisers. The controls are placed on definite
features such as track and creek junctions, a fence bend or by a
distinctive boulder. The site is marked with an orange and white flag
which has a punch attached. You use this to mark a control card you
carry to show you have been there. The skill in orienteering is in
choosing the best route between controls — while beginners'
courses may not offer choice, as you progress you will learn to decide
between options — perhaps over a hill or a longer route which
goes round it. The accurate "tortoise" is usually quicker than the
"hare" who darts off and makes mistakes in navigation. Each of the control sites is described either symbols or in English; see Control Descriptions for Orienteering.
Orienteering is a Sport for All
Orienteering events provide a range of courses to cater for all
participants. The courses are graded by age, by length and the amount
of navigation required.
Typically there are shorter courses for beginners and for younger
people; these follow "handrail features" (tracks, creeks, fences)
through to ones designed to appeal to the fit and navigationally
experienced, using more contour features.
Orienteering provides a special environment, in that the same event
caters for all ages, for social and recreational participants as well
as the more competitive, for families who can all go to the same
event. If you want you can do the course in pairs or in a small
group. A special attraction is that every course is different.
What do you need to start Orienteering?
To start you can wear jeans or tracksuit pants with a T-shirt and
pair of runners (remember to bring a change of clothes as well as a
bottle of drink and a snack). Your entry fee includes the cost of the
special orienteering map and timing chip. For easier courses in
well-defined terrain you probably do not need a compass. Ask the
organisers on the day; if necessary you can hire one and be shown how
to use it. See Welcome to Orienteering (151KB PDF) for more information and also on the Orienteering Australia website. The ACT Orienteering Website has a Coaching and Tips page.
Orienteering maps are made specially for bush navigation and show
much more detail than most other maps. Long blue lines across the map
with arrowheads show the direction of magnetic north. A scale bar
shows the scale of the map — usually, 1 cm equals 150 metres
(1:15,000) or 1 cm equals 100 metres (1:10,000).
Different types of features have characteristic coloured symbols as
- vegetation — white is for average forest, while green patches are for thicker bush which will impede progress, and yellow areas are for open land;
- water features — are marked in blue and these could include creeks even if then are dry;
- earth features — are marked in brown and they include contour lines which show the shape of the land, and other things such as earth walls and termite mounds;
- roads, rocks and man-made features — any mapped rocks and all man-made features (roads, tracks, fences, powerlines, buildings, etc) are all marked as black.
See Map Symbols for Orienteering Maps for complete set of symbols.
Where can I find?
For coaching hints and tips - see the Coaching and Tips page
For events - see the Events page
For kids - see the Juniors page