The MelBushO Series has been a highlight for me this year with a taste of many different areas and a sharp increase in the kangaroo count. I thought I’d been to this part of Plenty Gorge before but I hadn’t. An excellent turnout of 130+ folks joined us on a sunny Sunday morning. Pat and Susi entertained the kids while Mark and I set about our courses, he on the 4km B while I tackled the 6km A.
An uncrossable barbed-wire fence was an initial surprise on the way to my first control, although a kindly tree had fallen across it and I used this to scramble over the jagged wire. The second leg took me down to a river crossing where Russell was on hand to navigate me across the swirling waters. My third control I found buried under a fallen tree after more lost time. Slow going up to now.
I’d been softened up for my first big mistake. I decided to follow the path to #4 when straight would have been much quicker, as I realised when meeting later starters here. Four long minutes evaporated here. A long slog on a compass bearing to the next, then follow the path to #6, all the while overtaken by younger legs. Now back to the river crossing and over the barbed wire again to #7. I followed the river but kept high to the next control. 9-10 provided the most difficulty, having to go direct through steep and hostile green stuff which proved a lot tougher than expected. Everyone else suffered similarly here. My brains were now cooked and an easy leg to the last control cost me three minutes when I left #13 in completely the wrong direction. So a long 82 minutes should have been an almost-as-long 75 minutes.
Despite the physicality, I enjoyed a proper orienteering event. Eight MelBushO events this year may be expanded, I hear, for 2015. Let’s hope so!