The Navshield is essentially a 29-h rogaine, but with a few twists...

It is an event that is primarily designed as a navigation competition for bush rescue organizations such as the SES, armed services and other organizations involved in bush rescue. They also allow bushwalking clubs and rogainers to compete, but with slightly different rules (e.g., rogainers don't have to carry a tent and sleeping bag with them on the course). Oddly, only a very small number of rogainers take part in this event (~10 teams in the 29-h event and more in the one-day - 8 h, i think - event).

It is a bit more work than usual - the main difference is that the map that they give you does not have any of the checkpoints marked on it. This doesn't mean you just have to guess where they are though! They give you a description sheet, which has the checkpoints marked on it as grid references (6-digit numbers), and you have to mark up the map yourself. Also, when you get to a checkpoint, it doesn't have a number on it - not that this is a big issue - you would be in fairly big trouble if you arrived at a checkpoint and it was the wrong one!

The other major difference is that the checkpoints are much further apart - usually ~2 km or so. This means that (a) you get less gratification per hour and (b) you have more chance of strolling off course between checkpoints.

It is a great event though, and Jacqui and i gave it a shot this year. The event was held at ??, with a 9 am start on Sat morning. We arrived Friday night, pitched our tent, picked up our maps, and set about marking the locations of the checkpoints.

Next morning, we set out - weather was perfect, and all was well. The course was an interesting one. It was a mixture of terrain, but with some wickedly steep stuff in the south. A big swag of points - 80's and 90's - were to be had along a knife-edge ridge in the south, but it looked like hell getting down there and getting out again. After initially thinking that we would try to do this southern loop, at the last minute we decided to go north, and to attack the south after a bit of sleep the next morning.

Well, talk about a good choice... We went north and picked up a big load of points, with only one real miscalculation as night drew in. We managed to sort ourselves out there though, and ended up getting everything we went for. Coming back down a river to the hash house at night was fine, except that we had to keep crossing a rather wide (but shallow river). Since we are nancies, this necessitated the taking off of shoes and socks several times...(and very cold water).

Anyway, got back to base at ~1 am, cooked, ate, and slept for 4 h. Back out on the course by 7 am, which left us ~7 h. Not enough time to get down to the southern bonanza, so we skittered around the central part of the course and picked up what we could.

Turned out that it was a nightmare getting down to the south, and many teams spent a lot more time than they planned getting down there and back. In the end, we finished up about 10th out of ~150 teams, so we were most pleased!

As well as the usual photos, there are a couple of panoramas, taken from good high points that the organizers kindly included on the course (tough to get up there - but well worth the effort!

[Click on the thumbnails to get a caption and a larger image]

Milling around at the start. For this event, a lot of people are carrying a lot of stuff - the bushwalkers, no doubt. (126kb) An unusual sight at the start of a rogaine, one might think. The Navshield is a bit different though - all the emergency services people and the armed forces people add a bit of variety to the event! (75kb) Out on the course now - the first hilltop - people are filing down to the checkpoint, located on an outcrop looking over the valley behind... (69kb)
Heading off down a river valley... (77kb) Walking in the river valley - note Jacqui's spiffing new shinguards - these things are brilliant for self preservation... (94kb) Well, you might not believe me, but there is a wombat down there... a rare mid-morning sighting! (136kb)
Hmm - i think the next checkpoint is over on that hill... (88kb) Believe it or not, it is still daytime - we are just walking down a *very* gouged out creek bed - amazing! (77kb) Ditto... (71kb)
Ah - back at camp for a bit of a meal and 4 h sleep - its ~1:30 am... (67kb) Jacqui coming down the bank of another river (there isnt much in the way of water at the bottom though...). (97kb) Haa haa - points! (134kb)
Fruit bun consumption for energy restoration... (87kb) Hm - so we need to be down by that river next... (73kb) More points! Last one of the day before scrambling back down into the valley below where the finish is. Great views all round from this checkpoint. (82kb)
Map clenched firmly between teeth, jacqui makes her way back up to the ridge from the last checkpoint (see prev. photo). (87kb)