SUBW Party: Marcelle, Cameron, Albert, Maud, Jo, Jacqui, James.
This trip was to compete in the annual ‘Paddy Pallin’ 6 hour rogaining event, run by the NSW rogaining association. I didn’t get a lot of interest from SUBW people wanting to compete so I’ll just tell you how much fun it was and how much you missed out on! You can see the results at www.nswrogaining.org. All up about 650 people competed!
Rain was a central feature of Saturday. Cam and I had the fairly simple task of picking up Maud from Newtown and Albert in Wentworthville on the way to Rydal (15km past Lithgow) where the event was held. We had planned to camp there on Saturday night as the event started at 9am Sunday and we’d need time to plan our route and get organised. Things got off to a bad start when we went to pick up Maud. We managed to pick the exact time of the biggest dump of rain to pick Maud up. Unfortunately my car was a fair way from her house so we were all thoroughly soaked by the time we got into the car. Luckily we all had spare clothes packed so got changed at Albert’s before heading to the Gearin for dinner. My car picked a perfect time to blow a headlight, which we couldn’t fix with the spares I had 🙁 And the rain decided to come down again just at that point!
We finally arrived, damp and chilly at the Gearin for a rather good dinner, meeting up with some of Maud’s friends from France who had a campervan. Maud left her runners in front of the fire in the front bar to dry out, attended to by a pub regular who carefully turned them and kept an eye on them. Not a good enough eye it turned out, as some point later in the night the shoes mysteriously disappeared. A woman reported she’d ‘chucked them in the fire’ 🙁 Maud was rather unimpressed, but luckily had a pair of backup shoes – a nice pair of very presentable black boots just hanging out for some mud and scratches. We had decided fairly early in the night that going back out in the cold and wet, to then camp in the mud somewhere else cold and wet, and get up in the morning to pack up our now wet remaining dry clothes and gear was a silly idea, and that instead we would stay at the Gearin itself. Only $25 per person! What a bargain. Well, somewhat less of a bargain if you count in that the room wasn’t heated (though surprisingly well insulated and warm), the electric blankets didn’t work, the bathroom was feral and smoke and noise drifted in from downstairs … but it was dry, and that was good. Plus we got to stop at the Blackheath Bakery in the morning!
Light drizzle was continuing when we arrived at the rogaine site on Sunday morning. We set up Albert’s table & chair set and checked in to collect our maps. Here the rain struck again – about half the course was on the far side of the Cox’s River, which had been a mere trickle when the course was set, but was now too high to safely cross. So half the checkpoints were out of bounds! That made it easier at least for us to choose the route we wanted to take. We also tried out the ‘NavLight’ system, an electronic tag that records which checkpoints you’ve visited, instead of the old-style punch cards. Cam and I picked what we thought was a pretty easy-going route as we weren’t feeling that fit. Soon after the start we confirmed we were not very fit! The checkpoints near the start were in quite steep bush, which was now slippery as well after the rain. We saw some lovely creeks flowing which probably hadn’t had water for a decade or so. Even the 4WD tracks had little waterfalls. A couple of the checkpoints were located in creeks that usually had little water – so it was a challenge to cross the creek to punch the card without getting wet! There was a mix of pine forest and state forest, with quite a few steep hills to climb, and lots of mud to splash in.
Cam and I did some good navigation using our compasses and following the features to hit right on to quite a few of the checkpoints. Albert and Maud did quite well too, not getting too lost, and enjoying their first rogaine. We saw lots of wallabies and kangaroos and some beautiful bush (and some not-so-beautiful pine forest).
Of course we weren’t fast enough to win though – that was left for the 15 teams who got all of the checkpoints (we got just under half). One team finished in just over 4 hours! Afterwards we lined up for some great hot food (soup, pasta and bbq) and listened in awe as various teams came up to get their trophies, including a number of ‘Super Veteran’ teams (55+ I think) who got almost twice our score. How embarrassing! It was a top day out in the bush and I encourage all of you to enter in the next event.