We have been away on our holidays for the last ten days - a good dose of in-the-wild kangaroos, koalas and dolphins down the Great Ocean Road - so we arrive at Wattle Park refreshed and ready to go. A warm and sunny evening greets us, as Pat registers for the score course, while I plump for the line event. My course is a nominal 4.3km, but I know I'll need a route of 5-6km to visit all 21 controls.
I equip myself with an electronic finger and set my compass for the first control, down the slope and through the trees. I can't make the veg boundaries fit the map, however, and find myself on the track beyond the control. Backtrack to the bench but not a promising start. Never mind, let it go. This is one area I've now been to a few times, so I feel comfortable for the next few controls. I go in too early at number 5 (a consistent failing of mine) but soon find myself toiling up the hill to 7, which is an old restored tram sited next to a busy playground. If I had read the control description, I would have realised that the punch was inside the passenger compartment. The people enjoying a barbeque party here distract me, which might explain why I now visit the wrong control – 19 instead of 8. I don't realise my error until later at download, clearly failing to grasp that there are other controls out there, not just mine.
I lose concentration again between 10 and 11, wandering off line, then leave 11 in totally the wrong direction. I soon regain my composure and this helps me through to the end. Apart from my error at control 8, I calculate about 2 minutes lost at the first control and another couple of minutes around control 11. My watch says 5.3km in 40 minutes = 7.5 mins/km with a rather poor 10% of errors. Nevertheless, a good run around 21 controls in a very pleasant area. OK, not necessarily the right controls, but, to use one of the words of 2013, whatever.
We collect in a few controls afterwards and then change to go round to Geoff's house for food and drinks, managing to put the world to rights before the year is out. All orienteering should be like this.