Run or walk, compete against yourself or others, or a fun family day out. Classic "forest" orienteering for all in the great outdoors. (Mar-Sept)
   Run, walk or push a pram to a 45 minute time limit. How many points can you get? (Oct-Feb)
    A great introduction to orienteering with fun courses in suburban parks & reserves. Also includes a night event. (Feb-Mar)
    Navigate around bush tracks and trails on your mountain bike. The     BOSS series offers 75 minute score & line+score events. (Oct-Mar)






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What does Orienteering involve?

Orienteering is a competitive or non-competitive recreational activity in which participants use a detailed map (and usually a compass) to navigate between checkpoints (known as “controls”) along an unfamiliar course. In traditional orienteering orange and white markers ("flags") are set in the places that correspond to the control points on the map. Once the competitor has selected their route to a control and successfully found it they register their visit on a small electronic timing device - a “Sportident” or “SI stick”. (Newcastle's Street events and summer Mountain Bike Orienteering use a smartphone GPS navigation app called MapRun instead of Sportident to record your visit to each control). The winner of the competition is the participant who has used the shortest time to visit all the controls in numerical order or, for Street & MTBO events, gets the highest score within the time limit. Fast running (or riding) alone does not make you a winner. You must also choose the best route between controls and navigate without wasting time. If you like a mental and physical challenge and exploring the outdoors, orienteering is the sport for you!

 Watch the introduction to Orienteering videoOrienteering - Do we run?

Map compass pic 1024x1024 SI_Punching_example.jpgControl example

Where are events held?

The club hold events on mapped areas of bush, parkland and urban areas within the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Cessnock, Port Stephens and Singleton local government areas.   

Map course exampleStreet O map snippetUrban map snippet 

When are events held?

Winter Bush events are generally held on Sunday mornings roughly fortnightly between late March and early October. In summer daylight savings the club holds Wednesday afternoon events with a weekly "Summer Street Series" using the MapRun app and simplified maps, followed by urban parkland events (“UFO Series”) in March/April. The club also runs summer Mountain Bike Orienteering events (BOSS: Bike Orienteering Summer Series).

You can TRY ORIENTEERING ANYTIME FOR FREE by visiting one of our local Permanent Courses at Blue Gum Hills Regional Park Minmi and at Brickworks Park Wallsend after printing your own map.

What time do they start?

Due to the nature of the sport, starts are generally staggered (similar to a or car rally or time trial). At winter Sunday bush events participants can generally start anytime between 9:30am and 11:30am. Summer Wednesday events have a 5:00pm to 6:30pm start window for Street-O and a 4:45pm to 6:15pm window for Urban Series events. Summer mountain bike orienteering starts are early Sunday mornings. For your first event you should aim to arrive earlier rather than later as you will need some instruction before commencing!

How difficult is it?

Bush orienteering courses are structured into four navigational difficulty levels. Participants select which level they wish to do depending on their experience and navigational ability.

  • Very Easy: Very easy navigation for juniors or beginners. All controls are on tracks or along fences or other easy to follow linear features (called "handrails") and are readily visible.
  • Easy: Easy navigation. Controls are placed close to tracks, fences, watercourses or some readily identifiable linear feature. There may be options to "cut across" through the bush.
  • Moderate: Moderate navigation requiring better map-reading skills. Controls mostly located away from tracks requiring basic cross-country navigation. Route choice options will require some decision-making.
  • Hard: Challenging navigation requiring advanced map reading skills. Controls require cross-country navigation, may be isolated "point features" or in complex areas and may not be visible from the line of approach. Wider choice of routes means greater decision-making.

Street, Urban and MTBO events are at an easy navigational level and generally suitable for most beginners. MTBO events require riders to be competent in riding bush tracks and trails.

Who orienteers?

Our club is a mixture of all age groups and we have many family memberships. Orienteering is great family sport as everyone can participate at the one venue. Juniors need to be about 8-10 years old to undertake a course by themselves but there is no upper limit and we have had people over 80 years old competing. (Note - for safety at Street Orienteering & BOSS events children under 15 need to be accompanied by someone older). 

How competitive is it?

You may wish to amble around a course and enjoy the surroundings or compete seriously by going as fast as you can. It's up to you. For keen, competitive orienteers there are opportunities to represent the club, state and nation at the championship level. 

Can we participate as a group?

We have many participants that do the course in small groups. They are generally newer members or small family groups. When you gain more experience you will probably prefer the challenge of completing the course by yourself.

How long are the courses?

Distances tend to increase the harder you go up the navigational scale and will vary depending on the terrain. Typical distances for bush orienteering events are:

  • Very Easy 1.5-2.5 km
  • Easy 2.0-3.0 km
  • Moderate Short 2.0-3.0 km
  • Moderate Long 3.5-4.5 km
  • Hard Short 3.0-4.0 km
  • Hard Medium 4.0-6.0 km
  • Hard Long 6.0-8.0 km

Urban series events have two courses of around 2-2.5km and 4-5km plus a ~1km easy mini course for juniors. Street events are "score" events with a 45 minute time limit where you chose a route to visit as many controls as you can. BOSS mountain bike events have a 75 minute time limit. 

How long will it take me?

Typical times for most competitors at bush events are between 40 and 90 minutes but can vary greatly. An experience junior running a 1.5 km course could complete it in as little as 15 minutes while others walking around harder, longer courses can take over 2 hours. Urban series courses take around 25 to 60 minutes to complete. Street and BOSS events have time limits of 45 minutes & 75 minutes respectively.

How to Enter - Do I need to be a member?

Non-members are welcome and you can generally turn up and enter on the day, however, pre-entry is preferred. To pre-enter online as a non-member you need to register as a Casual Member (free) on Eventor - click here to see how. Many events have reduced entry fees for "first-timers" who have never tried orienteering before.

What are the fees?

Click here for current entry fees

What should I wear/bring?

Comfortable walking or running shoes with good grip are recommended. For bush events running gear such as a tee shirt and shorts is OK for Very Easy or Easy courses. Loose trousers, tights or shorts and long socks or gaiters are recommended for leg protection on Moderate or Hard courses that venture off the tracks. Normal running gear is fine for Street and Urban events. Bring your water bottle for hydrating before and after. In warmer weather you may want to carry water with you on your course. If you have a compass you can bring it but don't buy one without advice as there are models specifically for orienteering. For Street and BOSS mountain bike events you will need a smartphone loaded with the MapRun app.  MTBO requires a bike in good order, helmet, water bottle and ideally a handle-bar mounted mapboard (available for hire).

Where do I buy a map?

Orienteering maps are very detailed and specifically made by and owned exclusively by the individual clubs. They are provided at events as part of your entry and cannot be obtained anywhere else (other than the online maps of our free Permanent Courses).

Is coaching available?

The club holds occasional training sessions throughout the year to assist people improve their navigation with map and compass and orienteering skills. At every event there will be experienced club members available and happy to provide help and advice, both before and after you undertake your course. 

What isn't permitted?

Dogs, smoking and fires are prohibited from ALL parking, assembly and competition areas.

Are events cancelled due to bad weather?

Events would only be cancelled if there were bushfire or other extreme weather conditions or access issues.

Is the sport dangerous? Am I insured?

There are inherent dangers for anyone travelling in a natural environment, but bad injuries are rare. While the club has public indemnity insurance, it does not cover you for personal injury.

>Risk Notice: Competing in an orienteering event is subject to risks. These include death, serious injury or illness due to:  rough terrain and obstacles; overexertion; heat, cold or other adverse weather conditions; plant and animal life; and accidents with vehicles, other competitors or pedestrians. There are also risks that access to medical, evacuation or search services might be slow; and of damage to, or loss of, your personal property.

What other orienteering events are there?

Once you gain a little bit of experience you may wish to travel to events further afield than the local area. On most weekends during the season there are events somewhere within NSW offering courses for all ages and abilities. A popular NSW State League competition has events roughly monthly and there are annual national and international events open to all competitors. More info here.

What are the Rules for Orienteering? 

Orienteering NSW "Competitors Rules - Foot Orienteering" can be found here. Of particular note for all competitors are: 

  • You must report to the finish following completion or abandonment of your course. If you do not report to the finish the organisers will come looking for you!
  • Fair play: Except in the case of an accident or being seriously lost, obtaining assistance from other runners or seeking to obtain assistance from other runners, or providing assistance to other competitors during a competition is forbidden (shadowing/coaching of juniors/beginners excepted). Competitors who are seriously lost (ie. they do not know how to find the finish) can ask for assistance from another competitor.
  • It is the duty of all competitors to help injured runners. Injured competitors who need assistance should, if possible, blow a whistle or ‘cooee’ three times periodically.
  • Restricted area & routes - competitors should be familar with the map symbols for out of bounds/do not enter and uncrossable features, including those specific to Sprint Orienteering maps.
  • Pets must not be taken to events held on private land, in nature reserves/national parks or similar areas where they are prohibited, or as otherwise advised by the organisers. This includes bringing a pet and keeping it secured inside a vehicle or trailer.