Participants were afforded a sleep in this morning with breakfast served at the more sensible 8am. The agenda today would see competitors and officials enjoying a Steam Train ride from Maldon to Castlemaine, followed by an underground tour at the Central Deborah Gold Mine. Lunch was a BBQ complete with Aussie favorites Kangaroo steaks, Lamingtons and Anzac Biscuits.
A walk to the train station got the day started where some of the competitors were treated to the opportunity to push the loco around on the turntable. After some shuffling of locos and carriages, we were soon on our way.
The trip was quite relaxing with a team even enjoying a animated game of poker (Chinese style). Every imaginable camera was working overtime as the train rattled down the tracks towards Castlemaine.
The trip to Bendigo was made on 2 buses and we were soon arriving at the Central Deborah Gold Mine for our BBQ lunch and underground mine tour. This Mine was origionaly dug to a depth of more than 400m, however today we were only taken to a depth of 65m. The tour lasted 45minutes and our great host Laurie kept us entertained with rock drilling, fools gold, real gold, pretend blasting and drop bears.
Lunch was served by about 8 orienteering volunteers who had cooked up a feast. Six or so salads, cold drinks and deserts were also well received. An impromptu lesson was given “Having a BBQ Aussie style” Class 1 was how to eat a sausage in bread, this was mostly due to us running out of plates. The Kangaroo sample steaks went down a treat and proved very popular. After lunch we enjoyed activities such as quoits, horse shoe tossing, gold panning, and various machinery and static displays. At departure time we discovered that that we had lost 2 Chinese team members. A quick run around the small area revealed that they had disappeared to the local bank (5 blocks away) to exchange currency. We were soon all back on the bus returning to the camp.
The day started early with selection of cooked or continental breakfast on a cold morning. We were soon filling onto the two buses for the short drive to the Model Event. The model event serves as an opportunity to test out receiving equipment as well as familiarity with both the mapping style and the terrain. The full compliment of 5TX and homing beacons were available on both bands HF and VHF. This event was set on the Blowmine Map. Maps were handed out and after some initial testing the competitors headed out to test their receivers. Competitors were allowed 2 hours for this testing which allowed plenty of time to adjust and calibrate their equipment for the Australian Forrest. Many Kangaroos were seen on the course, which was a highlight for the international competitors, for many of them this would have been the first first time they would have seen one in the wild.
Lunch was next on the agenda, a smorgasbord of cold meats, salads, fruits, cake and drinks. Shortly after lunch was the Combo Street Orienteering and Fox-or-ing. Street Orienteering is a navigation activity where the points are marked accurately on the map. Fox-Or-Ing on the other hand is a combination of Radio Direction finding and Orienteering skills, The control circles for fox-or define an area of 300m diameter, whereas the orienteering is marked as a precise location. The locals thought that the gold rush with soo many people racing around with Gold Detecting (look alike) equipment.
The opening ceremony was soon after which was held in the local community hall, MC Robert VK3DN setup a PA in the hall so everyone could hear the speech by IARU Region 3 Chairman and WIA President Michsaael Owen VK3KI. Michael greeted guests and welcomed them to Australia and then officially opened the competition, wishing everyone well in the championships. Jack Bramham VK3WWW WIA ARDF Coordinator also welcomed competitors to Australia. Everyone then grouped outside for a participants group photo. Many cameras were working overtime not to miss any of the action.
The Team Leader meeting was held were team leaders and international referees were given the time line of the first competition which would be held early tomorrow on VHF. Rule changes were queried and last minute questions were answered. All competitors were tucked into bed early in preparation for an early start in the morning.
Well the big day is finaly here and the last bus load of overseas competitors has just arrived in Maldon at the Blue Light Camp. These competitors have traveled from as far afield places as USA, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, China and Malaysia. The overseas competitors combined with the Aussie team bring the total competitor count to around 100. Those who were lucky to arrive earlier today have enjoyed their first Aussie roast meal. Having oriented themselves with the surounds of Maldon they are now mostly tucked into bed. Although a few JA’s can be heard downstairs working a Morse dogpile on HF.
Tomorrows activities begin with breakfast at 7am, this is followed by an equipment try out soon after which allows them to familiarise themselves with the Aussie bush and mapping style. Later in the day is a combo radio and orienteering around the streets and lanes of Maldon. At 5.30pm all competitors and officials will convene to the town hall for the official opening ceremony. The first competition will be on VHF on Sunday not too far from Maldon. The actual location and map is kept secret until the buses arrive at the quarantine area. Monday is a sightseeing and recovery day which will start with a Steam Train trip to Castlemaine, and conclude with an Aussie BBQ at Bendigo. The final competition on 80M will be on Tuesday, the last official activity will be closing and awards ceremony nearby on Tuesday night.
Stay tuned for more news as it comes to hand..