Emerald CATI RadiO event – a competitor’s perspective

ARDF Club Training Day:                        Emerald, Sunday 3rd April, 2011

Close of Daylight Savings allowed for an extra 60 minutes in bed: a coolish morning, not frosty, not raining but I still struggled to get mobile.

Finally under way; decided not to detour to Templestowe Village for takeaway  Cappucinno and took my chances at East Doncaster ‘Maccas’ instead; coffee passable.

Approximately 09.40 am (est):  arrived Emerald, turned right at the first roundabout but the street layout did not look familiar (things not looking good for navigation today).

Checked Melways, retraced route back to roundabout, drove on to second roundabout and turned right, found Crichton Road and “O” sign.  Yay!

Finally arrived at picturesque Nobelius Heritage Gardens and the welcoming sight of familiar vehicles, a few members erecting the ARDF shelter and Bruce sorting the portable BBQ.

After the obligatory welcomes and chit-chat, I decided to attempt the (simpler) 2m Fox-Or Course first. The thinking was I would go out and locate a few Fox-Ors and return to attempt the more complex ARDF Course a bit later when some of the faster runners had completed their course and the demand for 80m sniffers had lessened.

Sniffer in hand, I headed off in the direction of F8, past the Packing Shed and through the gate into Emerald Lake Park … but which way to go?  The path divided and (in true Radi-O course-setting fashion) Marta and Pierre had deviously drawn the Fox-Or circle to encompass both tracks. Decision time … do I take the high track running parallel with  Puffing Billy rail or plunge down into the park along the lower track.

I decided on the Nobelius Track which runs anticlockwise along the perimeter of the park.  That turned out to be a good choice … I walked/ jogged (mostly walked) another 200 – 250 metres until the signal ‘swung’ then left the track and fought my way in through the greenery, stepping over and finding my way around fallen tree branches and fighting off some very (un)friendly grasses (the genus that adheres relentlessly to clothing).  Was thankful I had worn long pants and a long sleeved ARDF top.

Not all that far off the track was F8 hiding in the scrub.  I also found a (muttering) Suzanne in the vicinity – I suspect she may have approached from the lower track and had to fight her way uphill through the undergrowth.

Off again … plodding on in an anti-clockwise direction, progress easy, following the contours for another 800 metres then diverged down a narrow, greasy dirt track to the signal from F7.  Stuffed about for a bit (fought my way through more of that over-friendly grass) and eventually located the punch.  Also encountered another 3 ‘Hounds’ (adult + 2 pups) close to the Fox-Or.  Left dad instructing his two sons in the art of ‘Df-ing’ and was off back up to the main track in search of F6.

I was starting to relax and enjoy myself … another 700 metres on to Lake Nobelius where  F6 was beckoning from up the hill behind one of the many amphitheatres in this picturesque park … so onwards and upwards, fighting my way around annoying tree branches and logs and eventually locating the hidden punch, then back to the track.

Where to next … around the lake and on towards F3 … but why didn’t I look at the map more closely?   Lulled on in a false sense of security, I continued on to the creek to discover the sign … “bridge closed” and the track barricaded.  Only then did I decide to take a good look at the map to discover (marked very clearly) “Bridge broken, Don’t cross”.  Stuff it!   As if I was going to go retrace my steps now (sheer pig-headedness).

Down across the creek didn’t look all that bad and there was tell-tale evidence of others having crossed. Choosing a track that wasn’t too steep, I carefully picked my way down the slippery bank and spotted a largish branch lying in the mud. Carefully stepped out onto it with my left foot … good, reasonably stable, but I still needed another stride to get to the other side.  Choosing a spot devoid of earlier human foot prints I gingerly stepped out … and down I went, down into the squelchy mud!  I hadn’t exactly planned on a mud bath that day but my right foot, ankle and calf slowly disappeared down into the ooze!   Yuck!   Managed to extract my foot with O-shoe still attached and scramble up the East bank on all-fours (most dignified – but then that’s not really what Orienteering is all about).  Several other club members approached the bridge around then and they decided to make a jump for it.  Both landed safely on the opposite side and continued on their way.

Much muddied, but not disheartened, I passed over the next (unbroken) bridge, crossed the rail tracks South of Puffing Billy Station, climbed around the end of the fence and bush-bashed through the blackberries and rubbish and across to the road near the model railway building.  Successfully avoiding massive fox/ wombat (?) holes in the process. 200 metres then to an intersection and another choice to be made … which route?   I decided on the more Southerly track and continued on in quest of the next control.   More bush-bashing through the vegetation to success.  F3 found!

Come this far now, really can’t go back without finishing the lot!

Eastwards through the walkway between properties to Bellbird Crescent, turned right then on, gradually uphill to Wombat Crescent, downhill to Boundary Road then headed North downhill into Wright Forest.  Located F5 successfully, not that far in off the track!

It was now (only) about 1200 metres around the track to the next Fox-Or!

A nice downhill jog out of Wright Forest to the level crossing at Wright Road and on to the Emerald-Cockatoo Trail.  Wait for the signal to swing and downhill into the sparsely vegetated gully to F4 … 5 Fox-Ors down and only 3 more to go!

It was still some substantial distance to where F2 beckoned from South West of the Ornamental and Conifer Tree Lawn.  I was about to head off along a track into the scrub when I met up with Josie and Suzanne. “Don’t go in that way, it’s really hard, it’s actually closer from the road” they advised … so headed a few metres further North West then into the scrub.  Sound advice … F2 located and control card punched without too much effort!  (thanks ladies).  Almost on the home straight now.

Headed off along Emerald Lake Road, then took the short cut across to Durban Road, a 90° turn to the North then on to the “T” intersection and left into Old Gembrook Road.

Arrived at the intersection of Sherrif Road and headed into Worrell Reserve.

F1 found secreted in pine tree along Northern edge of the reserve.

About 600 metres to home!

Retraced steps back to Sheriff Road, headed South across Emerald Lake Road across the open park and the Finish.  Muddy but happy and it only took 2 hours!

and the 80 metre ARDF is another story …

If a 62 year old with a wonky ankle can do it  … so can you!

Why not get out there and try it … it’s all good, (clean ?) fun.


Dianne  (ARDF).