• Team member Morgaine route setting.
    Team member Morgaine route setting.
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Registation for Navshield map and compass navigation event for 2019 has opened.

Every year Bush Search and Rescue NSW (BSAR) organises and runs the Australian Emergency Services Wilderness Navigation Shield or NavShield.

If you don't know much about Navshield read the below story from last year's event and to register a team click here.

 

"Navshield is a big, boisterous, choose-your-own-adventure navigation event held in a secret location near Sydney every year. Attracting elite emergency service personal looking to train, socialise and test their skills; there are also categories for average Joe’s like you and me keen for a bit of the action.

 

This year’s event was held in the Yengo NP, down 110km of scrubby, winding road. As my fellow team members Morgaine and Sam both had to work Friday, I was on my own for the first night. Not wanting to miss out on the action I headed out into the foggy night to meet my fellow competitors.

 

Almost immediately I ran into the Belconnen SES who parked me in a camp chair, handed me a drink, dinner and a hot, steaming vat of info, fun and banter. They were to become my ‘Navshield family’ for the weekend and a great source of company around the big campfire in the chilly evenings.

 

Game on

The day of the event dawned cold and foggy, excited people wandering around with cups of tea comparing notes, checking boots, adjusting packs and deciding where to go first. Soon Morgaine and Sam rolled up and the race was on to get our maps, plot our points, decide a route, put in our trip intention plans and get our wristbands – used to electronically mark your arrival at checkpoints throughout the day.

 

Points range from 30 up to over a hundred for far away or hard-to-find points; we opted for a small circle within a 5km radius of the base.

 

Then just like that it had begun. Packs on, compasses firmly stowed down chest undergarments and maps held in chilly fingers we joined the swell heading into the bush. The map and points available was huge and people choose to tackle them in different ways. Some aim for high points and ignore lesser points along the way, others aim for volume.

 

The event can be tackled as either a one day (ours) or a two event. They begin as one and the same, so all around us each team was off on an almost unique adventure. Many would be staying out that night ready to begin again in the morning, some would come back to base camp, some would finish that night like our team and a few mad men and women were off to run all night, aiming to get every point on the (very substantial) map in under 24 hours.

 

The three of us headed off happily into the bush, promptly found the spur, argued about whether it was the spur or not, fell/scrambled into a gully, realised we’d left the point descriptions behind and gratefully popped out onto a track made by hundreds of other feet that morning helpfully leading us to within 10m of the checkpoint.

 

We realised it was far better not to argue and draw instead on each other’s strengths, we all brought something different.

 

I had the highest level of Nav training in the group with a terrain instinct borne from a childhood in the bush, Sam had no formal navigation training but lots of experience wandering the hills on horseback and had a good nose for direction. Morgaine was very methodical – her opting to count steps and mark distance turned out to be a fantastic tactical move.

 

Our next checkpoint involved following a gully almost identical to the one beside it and due to her we were reasonably confident we were in the right place.

 

After the dry creek bed ‘highway’ the steep, scrubby gully was an oasis of cool moss. Checkpoint found we headed straight up the hillside, following our compasses and landmarking all the way.

 

Then we had a choice – do we continue on our straight course taking us into a deep gully and back up onto the hilltop in front of us or detour left, up and onto a ridgeline and around to the radio checkpoint? The choice was easy, the ridgeline walk splendid.

 

Views peeled away sharply either side of us all the way to the friendly team awaiting our arrival at Alpha Radio Checkpoint.

 

We ate lunch and watched the teams coming and going. The fog had cleared to reveal a wide, ocean blue sky, cool, refreshing, light breezes and warm sun just strong enough to tickle the back of your neck. “This is glorious” we mumbled between bites – we simply felt lucky to be there on such a beautiful day, roaming about the bush in the greatest game of hide and seek Australia has to offer."

 

Words_Sarah Stackman

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