Nine Shoalhaven Bushwalkers arrived at the base camp, just off the Wombeyan Caves road at 4pm, Friday 30th June. It was a large cleared area on private property adjacent to the national park. We set up our camp with some choosing to sleep in their cars, others in a tent, while five shared the comfort of a camper trailer. The wind picked up, the temperature dropped and the clouds raced across the night sky. A fire was established to keep out the cold and provided a focal point for 'fivesies'.
Some then shared a meal of chilli con carne (supplied by Karen), followed by a chocolate log (supplied by Kynie). There was to be soup but I forgot to bring it. At 7.30pm, it was time for a member from each team to register and pick up the maps. There were three teams consisting of Karen and Brett Davis; Louise and Peter Dalton; Lani Imhof, Kynie Evison, Julie Davison and myself. We retired to our respective areas to plot the checkpoints and work out an appropriate route so that maximum points could be gained taking into account our capabilities and the time frame. This took until 11.30pm and still no definite route had been decided, as the course appeared to be very challenging. There were no obvious circular routes, the radio checkpoints were a long way out (you had to visit at least one) and there was a lot of walking in between each checkpoint.
The next morning during breakfast, the girls team worked out a plan and then at 8:45am following a briefing by the organisers, 113 teams set off in a rush. It always surprises me, how, after the first checkpoint, you come across very few competitors out on the course. There was a number of teams competing over two days, but all three Shoalhaven Bushwalker teams were only doing the one day event. During the day the Ladies team managed to find all the checkpoints that we aimed for and we also visited two radio checkpoints. The highlight was the Wangenderry Lookout with breathtaking views. Lani and Julie took advantage of this and lunched at the lookout, while Kynie and I warmed up beside a glowing open fire set up by the officials just up the road. On our way around the course, we covered 27 kilometres and approximately 500 metres of ascents and descents. We walked on 4WD tracks, through light to heavy scrub (particularly thick in the creeks), over creek crossings (Wilson's Creek had a rope to assist in a safe crossing and was lit at night), scrambled up rocky outcrops and picked our way across country at night with only a compass and torch. Always trust your compass. A rapid walk, saw us arriving back at home base with half an hour to spare (7pm ) and 390 points in the bag.
This gave us 11th place over-all, out of more than 50 teams. The others had arrived back earlier after a frustrating day of difficult navigation, tough terrain and bad course choices. Despite this, the Daltons still managed to finish 16th, and the Davises 21st. They had a lovely fire going, and after a well-earned drink, we all attended the presentations. Congratulations must go to Brett on receiving his five year trophy. A quick wash and tea had us all snug in bed dreaming of checkpoints.
This Rogaine will be talked about for a while to come, as it was quiet different from other rogaines but worth the challenge.