TRIP: Beginners’ Navigation Weekend
DATE: 15-16 May 2010
The weather couldn’t have been better for this year’s navigation weekend! We were a bit late arriving at Bell due to the usual faff getting out of Sydney but by 10am we were away. Before we left the beginners learned how to cite a grid reference and how to orientate the map.
After an hour or so of walking we reached the panoramic viewpoint of 994. Here we enjoyed 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside. Maps, compasses, pencils, the whole lot came out, and we went through the key skills of navigation: navigating from point to point using map and compass, identifying landscape features by taking bearings, and the converse of this which is working out your location by taking a bearing on a known point.
Fortunately navigation is 1% theory and 99% practise so it wasn’t long before we made our way across the Wollangambe River to an excellent lunch spot atop rocks in the sun. Then came the bush bashing. The beginners took turns to lead the way up a ridge, taking and following bearings. The aim was to reach the junction of two fire trails. Reaching the road either side of the junction wouldn’t count – success would be if we emerged from the bush right at the junction. And that we did, proving that the methods we had been learning really work!
But uphill is easier than downhill and the next leg of the journey was navigating down a hill. Here the beginners learned another important navigation principle – if in doubt, follow your nose! Still, we reached our camp site, having decided that the weather was so nice we’d camp in the open instead in one of the nearby sandstone caves.
Our campfire circle was on a spacious flat rock and an excellent evening of cooking, eating, drinking and talking followed.
Next morning was frosty and cold with ice in our water bottles but it soon warmed up into another perfect day. We crossed a swamp and climbed a different ridge, the beginners taking turns to lead the way. By these means we navigated ourselves to Gooches Crater, a unique swampy depression formed by a surrounding rim of sandstone pagodas. This was a really nice place to stop for a while and enjoy the scenery.