Orienteering SA 2024

Playing on sand dunes along the coast prior to race 1.

Unfortunately (for photography), my focus this trip was on Orienteering, and, perhaps equally unfortunately, the weather was very hot for Taswegians (probably for everybody). Thus, on competition days, instead of having fun shooting other people, I was getting ready to run, or recovering from having done so (which basically means drinking large quantities and eating even larger ones, looking out for the children and cheering them in, or lazily chatting to friends whilst ridding my body of disgusting, sweaty gear. Once everybody from our family had finished and friends temporarily farewelled, it was off to the local (Murray Bridge) pool for hours spent slipping down slides or swimming, of course with some other competitors.  I took a few iPhone shots of that, but nothing serious: record shots, not actual photography.

On the way to the start. SA farmland.

Thus the only shots I took in which I tried to capture mood or beauty, were mostly done on days before or after the competitions. I was a prisoner of place, given that proximity to events and a reduction in travel for the children were prioritised. We landed in Adelaide, stayed near the coast, retreated to the Adelaide Hills for the four days of competition, and afterwards, travelled down the nearby Fleurieu Peninsula, exploring some of its beaches.

Tiny competitor at her last control.

The weather post competition was grey to drizzling, and we all felt like a rest after racing in extreme heat on the previous days. It was time to read books and play games.

Rock detail

Despite all those brilliant excuses, I did get a chance to do some photography. I wanted some BiF photos (Birds in Flight), and the children and I had a hilarious time in which they tried to make perched birds fly, and I tried to capitalise on their efforts. Much stomping and shouting ‘Boo’ resulted, but not much good photography. The attempt was great fun, and surely that’s the point of it all.

Après-O using different muscles.

One of my favourite moments of the trip was the first morning of our camping (an orienteers-only venue in the middle of nowhere). To the east a glorious sunrise was unfolding. I just didn’t feel like setting up. I took an iPhone shot or two to record it, and then went out and stood under a huge gum tree, its branches laden with choraling magpies. The sights and sounds filled me with peace and joy. There was one other person out under the same tree, doing exactly what I was doing and soaking it all in sans camera. We made a brief exchange and then I realised I was chatting to a guy I’d met while we were both in the forest shooting at a previous O event: someone whose photos I admire, Kelvin Meng. Ho ho. The only two photographers in the joint were the only two to be up watching the sunrise, but both of us were too absorbed in it to want to take a shot. We stood admiring together in combined worship, unsullied by words (or camera gear).

BiF Galahs
Fleurieu Peninsula

It was, as ever, terrific to catch up with old friends, to reconnect with people I’d been on teams with in yesteryear, or competed against, or with, here or abroad, and to see the kids making firm friends with other kids, many of whom turned out to be the children of people either Kirsten or I or both competed against, or with, decades ago.

Suicide-bombing Corella

The other aspect of the trip I loved is the way Orienteering leads its competitors to explore new and different parts of Australia, to see and feel and smell not-yet-experienced parts of this amazing land of ours. I love staying at tiny towns I’d never heard of before; driving from there to the events and absorbing that slice of the world; and getting ready for the race imbibing all the smells and sights and sounds of this new location. Every race smells different.

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