Farewell Serbia – Croatia here we come

Sunday 16th September 2012

Early rise today to be ready for the trip back to Belgrade Airport at 7am. We did have some supplies, smuggled out from dinner the previous evening, for the trip but it was rather good to find the resort had provided us with a packed lunch. The trip back was uneventful and even so it took till almost 12.30 to get there. Bruce was doing his best to keep calm when we said goodbye and left him to check in at the Fly Dubai counter as we headed to the JAT check-in. Kristian had quite a considerable wait for his flight to Istanbul.  We wandered around a bit and then thought we would go through security and passport control and spend time there instead. It was here we met up with Bruce and members of the English team and John from Norway. The queue was unbelievably long and snaked around several times. It was close to about 1.15 pm when we got through the formalities and caught a glimpse of Bruce waiting at this gate (stress eating- well that’s what it looked like.)Our flight to Dubrovnik left on time and we arrived here at 3.30pm. Our prearranged transfer was waiting for us and by 4.00pm we were sitting on the vine covered deck outside drinking real tea. House Boninovo is situated half way between the old town and the Port Gruz and although can be a little bit noisy with traffic during the evening; it was a real find and rather homely and ample room for cat swinging. The shutters on the window work well in hiding the washing from street view.

Walking tour at 6pm was followed by dinner in what Ewen has dubbed spaghetti alley, an outdoor restaurant in a narrow alley at most 2.4 metres wide, room for tables on one side and space for people to walk up and down on the other, covered with a canvas awning.

Purchased some fruit and a couple of croissants for breakfast on the way home.

Monday 17th September 2012


We made it to the bus stop by 7.40am in time to catch our tour to Montenegro. The view leaving Dubrovnik was spectacular. There is an extremely narrow coastal strip with very steep escarpment immediately behind it and right on the edge you can see the old town and its fortifications. They obviously have to use every available fertile land for production and the terraced gardens stretched some way up the escarpment. It was a fairly rough road due to road works, and few more delays at the border crossings, but the view of Kotor Bay was spectacular. We stopped at Perast and wandered along the foreshore. There were a couple of groups of swimmers who were swimming behind speed boats across to the island in the middle of the bay. Ewen didn’t opt to join them. Thought the water was a bit too chilly.

Next stop was the walled town of Kotor. Any thought of walking around the wall went out the window when I realised it was over 1300 steps to the viewing area. We had a walking tour of the town, more facts and figure that I had no chance of remembering. Apparently they had very original names for the city squares, the square of flowers, the square of milk, the square of meat, and I expect the squares of fruit and vegetables. We did get a chance to visit one church, rather elegant with the white walls and pink brick work. The museum attached had some relics hundreds of years old, but what caught my eye was the lace that was still intact even though it was very old. There was not a lot of free time here as we had to move onto Budva.

Budva, like Kotor had buildings that were built by the Venetians back in 16th century and the only damage to them has been due to earthquakes and not the 1990s conflict. We(along with Alice a very sociable immigration officer from Hong Kong) opted for some seafood (mussels) for lunch and it was rather pleasant sitting under the big umbrellas overlooking the sea. Lunch was a bit too long and it left us with less than 45 minutes to check out the old town here. The three of us set off for a route march around the old town. Again more narrow streets, 3 more churches and a citadel. The view from the citadel was worth the 2 Euro entry and just had enough time to check out the library attached and make it back to the bus via the ice-cream shop by 3pm. Dare I say it was Jenelle who found the way back!!

Many locals are not happy with the extent of Russian development in the area; it is becoming rather glitzy and losing its quaint old town charm. There is the casino where James Bond – Casino Royal was filmed and an overdeveloped island called Sveti Stefan now rented by wealthy Chinese, maybe, there seems to be some about the actual arrangements.

The only entertainment of note on the way back to Dubrovnik was at the border crossing. It would seem the border police take great delight in stopping suave young males in expensive vehicles and spend considerable time examining every inch of their vehicle.

Tried a different place for dinner, magnificent trout with almonds. Sorry no picture, but I can assure you it was good, along with fish pate. We are also becoming addicted to Limonada, old-fashioned homemade lemon drink made from fresh lemon juice, just like Pullos’s café in Goondiwindi used to make.

Keep on Sprinting

Thursday 13th September 2012


Today’s event was the 80M sprint.


This event has 5 transmitters on 3.52Mhz, running on a 12 second cycle which you can find in any order, followed by a spectator control on 3.54Mhz and then a second group of 5 transmitters on 3.56 Mhz on the 12 second cycle, followed by a homing beacon near the finish. The number of transmitters to be found  in the second group depended on your age group, with Kristian needing to find all 5 and Bruce and I needing only  1, 2, 4 and 5 although, getting carried away with things a bit, we both also found 3. Bruce started the event a few minutes after me and as I expected Bruce caught up near the end. I was hunting the homing beacon at this stage and decided to give him a run for his money. Bruce however was hunting transmitter 2 and thought I was doing the same so, as he was having equipment troubles, decided to see where I went. This did not end up well for Bruce. Bruce is once again having stern words to Bruce.

A great short sharp event!!  Not sure yet what the winning time is but Kristian did it in 30 mins, myself 36 and Bruce 39.

Bruce: Around 15mins for both M21 and M40 winning times. NB: I really did think #2 was that way, 180Deg out….

Some time was spent in the afternoon washing and drying Bruce’s right running shoe. Why, well I only brought spikes to Serbia and the sprint required running shoes. Bruce kindly lent me his old running shoes with the request that I try not to get them wet. Well I only got the right one wet………. Hence the washing and drying at great expense to the environment.  Another unconventional use of the hair dryer. This job was somewhat important as Bruce had managed to get his right shoe wet also, leaving him with no dry shoes.

Later in the afternoon the organisers arranged a picnic. Now Serbian picnics are not like the traditional English picnic with tea and cake. The food is largely, actually entirely, replaced by beer. And a very good brass band.  The beer came in 2 litre bottles “250ml gratis”. The Czech team provided some impromptu dancing, clearly they had been there for a while before we got there. We joined in for a short time as the sprint and some red had left me a bit weary.



The start today was not far from the front of the resort and again we filed out through the narrow door and only a short walk. We secured the only picnic table in sight, thanks to Kristian and no sooner had we settled in, they started calling for the equipment as of course AUS is always first. After all the AUS team left I headed to the finish line to resume my cheering duties. It is such a terrific atmosphere as spectators cheer in their respective runners. I made an attempt to run with Ewen beside the finish chute and lost the flag in the process. I left it to Ewen to run to the finish with Bruce, and together they escorted Kristian to the finish line.

Ewen failed to mention that some pressure had to be applied for him to join in the Serbian dancing and I am not ashamed to admit that it was all I could do to manage one bracket of the music. Seeing how well they run as well, maybe it is part of their training regime. I felt about as active as the friendly Serbian bear that resides here.



The sprint was fun, despite our mediocre performance. We had never done one of this style before though. We should try something like this at home. If nothing else we need practice; it’s more instense than even a 5-in-5. My 80m receiver needs work, or more accurately, it needs replacing altogether !

Note to self: If wearing shorts and a knee brace, ensure the other knee is protected from the nasty scratchy velcro, or you’ll be forced to run the rest of the sprint in an odd bow legged fashion or risk removing skin.

Time for another short ride this afternoon, this time to a neigbouring ski area and back. Got the other shoe wet this time, so yet more hair dryer action.

The wine was sucessfully opened finally at the picnic, thanks to the swiss army knife form Ole, the Region 1 ARDF chairman.

I ended up in a rapid card game at the picnic with a bunch of German’s, some Chinese juniors and a Polish youth. Took a round to get used to it, as the rules were somewhat opaque to me at the start, but I got the hang of it and it was quite additive. Also, since it used special cards with symbols it was essentially lingual neutral (but being able to count your cards in deutsche helped save time). Kristian got a game right at the end. Anyone played Jungle Speed ?

Note we are updating this blog from2 different hotels, so plese excuse any weird inconsistancies that may crop up.

Seems like the fires over the hill, for which we’ve seen the water bombing helicopter,and aircraft flying over, were apparently started by a cluster bomb explosion during mine clearing on Mt Kaponik. One worker was killed in the explosion.
Hope there are a) no unexploded bombs on the competition map and b) that the fire is brought under control !!

Kristian has headed off to endure another team leaders meeting, which may happen, or not, and may happen on time. Or not.

It’s all uphill from here


Tuesday 11th September 2012


Model event day. Very simple event. Two 2m transmitters, one of which changed into a homing beacon at some stage, and two 80m transmitter, plus homing beacons. The 2 and 80 metre transmitters were colocated. After hunting on 2 metres there didn’t seem to be much point in hunting on 80 so checked that the 80M sniffer gave sensible directions and called it quits. After giving Jenelle some 80 DF coaching we went back to the hotel for a shower before lunch. After lunch Ewen investigated the ARDF “spare” 80m receiver to see if it could be made to cover the frequencies proposed for the sprint event later in the week. After some discussion with Bruce it was decided that it might not be possible with the available resources.

The opening ceremony was advertised for 4pm but as usual with these events it was nearer to 4.30 before things got underway.  There were the usual speeches by various dignitaries, including the president and vice presidents of the IARU and the competition was declared open.


There was enough time after the formalities to check out the pool, rather a challenge aerobically, after about 20 laps (each lap 20 metres) I called it quits. Didn’t feel very comfortable to join those reclining on the lounges on the pool deck.


Wednesday 12th September 2012


Early start today. At 8 am we set off for a walk to the start about 20 minutes away from the main entrance to the resort.


The problem with start quarantines is that if you luck a late start it can be a long-long wait till you head out, and since my start time was midday this proved to be the case.

Read on if you really want to know about the course J. Hills, and valleys, lots of them, and unavoidable. Starting at 1800m (higher than the very very top of Mt Buller) this proved quite a challenge physically. My knee wasn’t too much of an issue except for climbing over the many fallen large and small pine trees spread all over the place, including across tracks.

Have a look at the map to make some more sense of this bit. Conveniently our start corridor (for 80m) turned northwards, which was where I’d planned to head anyway, away from the finish to the south (the finish was actually near the hotels). Got TX#3 that direction at 13mins, and then a long trek to TX#1 way up in the NW corner.  I lost a bit of map contact, but my route wasn’t bad in retrospect, but possibly slower as I’m more confident if I know where I am exactly.  Some others, including Ewen, did TX#4 (near the dam wall NW of start) 2nd, but my plan was to do that next (3rd) since I had TX#5 placed way down south near the finish. My order wasn’t bad as it turned out. My route TX#1 to TX#4 was very steep and probably not optimal as I ended up in a creek valley that was hard to get out of. Luckily I saw the large dam wall near TX#4 and relocated. Headed south to TX#5, up a very steep hill track I staggered up. I punched and headed to the finish. Caught up with Kristian who was just finishing M21 80m and punched the finish just behind him. He started quite a while before me, so though I was a bit slow at times, 72mins for all the ones I needed (don’t get TX#2 for M40) seemed not bad for me. But. Took me a while to notice, but when comparing splits with Kristian it seemed I hadn’t punched at TX#5 at all, but instead at a 2m transmitter (they run the courses concurrently with different age-groups doing 80m or 2m) number 3. I have yet to see where TX#5(80m) and TX#3(2m) were actually located, but I don’t think far. This was a bit upsetting. Bruce had some strong words with Bruce which are best not repeated here.

Bruce: My 80m map

Kristian did fabulously well to get all his 5 TXs for M21, back in time, still fighting the final leftovers of bronchitis. Ewen found 3 or his 4 TXs, having to skip the last one near the finish due to time constraints. Frustrating as he thought he wasn’t far from it, but with only 3 mins to spare from the 150min time limit, this wasn’t advisable. The single person cheer squad did well to welcome us home.

This afternoon, after a late lunch, we fiddled about with 80m receivers to make them cover the range required for the Sprint event tomorrow and the FoxOr later (sorry Greg, we made changes). Yet to work on the ARDF club one which is physically more difficult due to heatshrunk hidden circuitry. The model event for the sprint followed the usual model of zero information about where and how, and only about 1.5 hours late. Suspect their organising team is very small indeed.

We have a problem. A significant problem. No corkscrew. As you can imagine, this is a disaster, as we cannot possibly take all the wine we bought home with us due to luggage limits. Even the waiter in the restaurant wouldn’t let us use one. Some initial confusion when he first brought me a pepper grinder, but then he understood. No ! I’m sure there was a reason, but it was in Serbian.

Incidentally, Stephan from Germany is back.

Noodle Railway

6th September 2012


It was an earlier start today and our chance to experience Serbia’s version of Puffing Billy, the Sargon 8 train near Mokra Gora,  4 older style carriages pulled by a  diesel engine. The interiors looked pretty original with wooden slatted seats and drop down windows. The ride up to the top took about 50 minutes with no stops along the way. There was a commentary pointing out the features along the way, the first in Serbian, and later in English, neither were of any use, just like Flinders Street in peak hour, so much noise it just blocked it out.

Bruce: Great fun on the train this morning. The back of the ticket showed the path the train takes, and the thing looks just like one of Louise’s noodle awards (see picture!). It runs up and over itself many times as it winds up the mountain. There are some extra photos just for Roger, as I know he’ll be looking for them.

The dedicated orienteers amongst us religiously followed the map on the back of the ticket most of the way.

There was a brief stop at the top just to turn the engine around for the downhill journey. 3 or 4 stops on the way down, one long enough to explore the upper terrace above the station and provide some good photo opportunities.

From here we headed to the ethno-village at Drvengrad built by Serbian film director, Emir Kusturica. Not quite movie world but it did have a cinema, some interesting architecture that served as hotel apartments and even a prison. A good place to stop for refresments (no not the prison). There were also some of the older soviet era vehicles used in his movies.

A short drive from here was the Tara National Park. Some of us took the opportunity to have a snooze along the way. The map left a lot to the imagination, but Bruce soon lead us on a route march up to the top of the hill. Our fitness levels are destined to improve rapidly at his rate. We even spent a little time acting our age in the playground.

I have to report we did see a bear, but didn’t need to run this time as it was well secured and preserved in a glass case. We timed our walk well as it just started to mist as we left the park on our way to our overnight stop at Valjevo. Today has been much cooler and a perfect day for being outside. Hopefully Kopaonik will like this.