Orienteering started in Victoria in 1969 and there was only one “club”, the Victorian Orienteering Association. It was soon realized that there was a need to create several clubs to spread the workload of organising events and to provide a focus for members.
The first club was the Red Kangaroos (RK) which was formed in 1972. This club targeted business people from all over Melbourne.
At about the same time, Bayside Orienteers was started with a geographic target area of the beachside and neighbouring suburbs down as far as Mordialloc Creek. From here the Peninsula Orienteers took over although they eventually merged with the Bayside Orienteers.
In December 1991, a meeting attended by members of Bayside Orienteers and the Red Kangaroos Orienteering clubs, voted to amalgamate with the new club to be known as Bayside Kangaroos Orienteers, under the leadership of Murray Hanna, the inaugural President. As many members had grown very attached to their original club the decision to join together saw a small number, sadly walking away from the sport. However those who continued with their interest in Orienteering have witnessed a club that has flourished, with members from all over the metropolitan area and Geelong. At both park and street, bush and Mountain bike events, Bayside Kangaroos will most likely have the largest following.
From 1992 onwards, the club has organised many Australian Orienteering Carnivals, while a number of members have represented our club/country internationally. Angus Robinson was the 2016 World Junior Sprint Mountain Bike Orienteering Champion, while Vic Sedunary and Merv Trease have the honour of setting the 2018 World Rogaining Championship in the USA.
The merged club had and still has members from all over the Melbourne metropolitan area and in recent years has gained members from Geelong and the Surf Coast.
Club membership is open to people from all metropolitan areas and is not restricted to bayside areas as the name may suggest.
A Club History by Ian Baker
Bayside Orienteers had always seemed to be rather a family club. From time to time a member starred in a junior or veteran grade – Michael Magasanik in juniors, for example, and Jarker Gorander in M43 and M50 – but we were never prominent in the elite.
But all this changed. At the Victorian Relay Championships in April 1989 both the first and second Men’s Open teams were Bayside. (Sydney’s Big Foot were third).
Twenty years ago
When the sport started in Victoria in 1969, the Victorian Orienteering Association was the club. A small core group of keen members did most of the work; this was alright at first but as the sport became more popular and events more frequent, once a fortnight in the season, we needed to take a fresh look at the way we were organised. The VOA determined to encourage the formation of clubs as a focus for event organisation and to enable relay teams to be formed.
With Tony Pye, a regular attender at the time, Ian Baker was the founder of Bayside Orienteers as the club for the beachside and neighbouring suburbs of Melbourne. (Later, our catchment area extended to cover the Mornington Peninsula following the demise of Peninsula Orienteers, probably due to the lack of events near home).
We circularised all orienteers in the area, wrote articles for the local paper and were formally founded at a public meeting and film show in Beaumaris on 5 June 1972. We were off to a healthy start, organising events on Forests Commission black-and-white maps to the east of Melbourne near Gembrook and in Churchill National Park.
About 1973-74 the club had a big turnover of officers and lost momentum. A core group of keen members worked together to relaunch the club, in 1975 producing our first colour map at Gembrook, ‘Tonimbuk North’. The terrain, later enlarged as ‘Mortimer Park’, used to be fast and runnable. Now, however, it is heavily overgrown, impenetrable in places except to the occasional marijuana cultivator, and just about unusable.
Years of progress
In 1978 club members fieldworked `Sailors Falls’, just south of Daylesford, about 100 km north-west from Melbourne, for the Victorian Championships which were organised by Hank Pepplinkhouse.
The complex goldmining terrain was beyond our mapping expertise (see The Australian Orienteer, August 1988, page 10), but most people seemed to enjoy it. The area was later remapped as `Sailors Diggings’ as part of the 1985 World Championships/WOCARN program and is outstanding terrain.
Cartographer of the original `Sailors Falls’ map was Derek Clayton, for thirteen years holder of the world marathon record. Derek recognised that being fast on his feet was no good unless he was pointed the right way so started orienteering modestly in the forest, working up through the courses until he became a formidable competitor in M35 and absolutely unbeatable on the run-in to the finish. Unfortunately, old leg injuries now prevent Derek taking part regularly.
In 1979 we launched `The Winter Classic’ as a two-day event near Gembrook with a chasing start on Day 2. `The Winter Classic’ is our feature event of the year; it is publicised well, run on good maps and has trophies as well as attractive random draw prizes. Over the years we have managed to attract sponsorship on a number of occasions, putting the money back into the event. In 1989 `The Winter Classic’ with Day 2 on a new map at Lysterfield Lake also marked the twentieth anniversary of the first event which was run not far away at Upper Beaconsfield on Sunday 23 August 1969 in terrain which is now unusable due to suburban sprawl.
About ten years ago, recognising our lack of expertise at mapping, we decided to concentrate our efforts on organising well-attended events and to use the funds generated to pay for maps to be prepared for us. Steve Key, later the principal mapper for the 1985 World Orienteering Championships, prepared ‘Kurth Kiln’ for the 1980 `Winter Classic’; the area includes the big Gilwell Park Scout Camp which was specially surveyed and which has been a steady buyer of maps.
Bayside is fortunate that it now has qualified professional mapping expertise, notably 1982 Pacific Orienteering Champion David Rowlands and Jarl Larsen, who are able to lead groups to produce good quality maps from our own resources.
Role of the Club
Any sporting club has a role beyond being a group of people to organise events. Over the years we have tried to create a Bayside culture or team spirit by providing a range of activities. At major events away from Melbourne there have been campsites. In the summer we have enjoyed weekends at Wilsons Promontory and Lake Eildon. Jill Miller, our membership secretary, organised Howman’s Gap Alpine Camp for more than one hundred participants at the 1989 High-O at Falls Creek.
Club identity and a sense of belonging are important, particularly for new members. No-one ever wore our club O-suits (they were similar to several others) so a fashion committee comprising Bennie and Jarl Larsen with Robin and Les Robertson created a brand new look so successfully launched this year. Twenty O-suit tops were made and sold in the first week alone; now the fashion committee is considering apres-O wear. Look out Big Foot!
Bayside has had many other prominent members over the years, some achieving great success, others working energetically behind the scenes. Eddie Wymer became Bayside’s first ever WOC team member. Margaret Dunbar has won many Australian veterans athletics titles. Rod and Jill Miller were a social focus and hard workers as custodians of the gear trailer for many years. David Rowlands, David Church, Michael Wallets and James Russell have each been multiple-times Australian Rogaining Champions. James has also long reigned as `King of the Mount’ in the Wycheproofe wheatsack race.
Now, Ian Baker is the only original member. He was an M35 when we started and, more than 900 events after his first outing in 1970, has just been promoted to M80.
Red Kangaroo Orienteers
A Club History by Mike Hubbert
Orienteering was introduced to the Australian public with an event at Upper Beaconsfield, Victoria, in August 1969. Amongst the competitors at this first event were Ray White, Mike Hubbert and George Claxton – well-known Red Kangaroo Orienteers in later years. Co-organiser was Tom Andrews who persuaded Peter Wills-Cooke to assist in setting this first course. Peter never became an active orienteer, preferring to stay with track & field.
A few months later at Elliott Lodge, near Healesville, the Novice course was won by Tom Andrews in 1hr 23min 40sec and the Open course by Mike Hubbert in 3hrs 51min 25sec (only Mike and Tony Kerr of MUMC beat 4 hours!).
Originally Red Kangaroos was known as the Richmond Harriers Orienteering Club and members were closely involved in the establishment of Orienteering in Victoria, the VOA, and ultimately the OFA.
As the club began to attract new members solely interested in Orienteering the decision was made in May 1972 to change the name to the Red Kangaroo Orienteers. Members of the Red Kangaroos were prominent in the administration of the sport from the outset. John Lewis was President of the VOA for some years. Tom Andrews took on the promotion and education role in the OFA from its formation and Mike Hubbert was Treasurer of the VOA before becoming Secretary of the OFA for six years.
It was in May 1976 that two Red Kangaroos hatched the plot to apply to host the 1985 World Orienteering Championships in Australia. The year 1985 was chosen because it was the most distant year for which the IOF had requested applications. With much lobbying of IOF member countries it is now history that Australia was awarded the WOC’85 event at the 1980 IOF Congress, attended by the same two Red Kangaroos as members of the Australian delegation of three. Tom Andrews went on to become Chairman of the IOF Development and Promotion Committee.
First Colour map
The first full-colour Orienteering map in Australia was introduced by the Red Kangaroos in March 1973 at an event at Egerton. Now, after many revisions, the map is known as Blackfellows Flat. That first coloured map was printed on untearable waterproof paper. The innovation so incensed another club that, at their event two weeks later, they offered a map “specially printed on environmentally friendly dissolving paper”.
Slaty Creek quickly followed for the 1973 Victorian Championships and that area became the venue for the 1985 Victorian Championships as part of WOCARN.
The club introduced computers to the sport at the 1975 Australian Championships conducted at Mt. Tallarook. Wayne Fitzsimmons of Data General provided the hardware. The area is now known at Mt. Hickey.
The Overseas Influence
Red Kangaroos were amongst the earliest Australian competitors in the established European Orienteering events and were quick to show our European friends that there was thunder down under. Mike Hubbert was the first Australian to regularly compete on the UK Orienteering circuit and to venture beyond the Arctic Circle to run under the midnight sun in Norway’s Midnatsol Galoppen. Tales of the exploits of Louie The Fly (or Jean Louis) at Swedish Five-Day events are still related throughout O-Ringen circles.
To the press, Orienteering was a novelty sport in the early days and Red Kangaroos capitalised on this with a number of promotional stunts including charity runs. One was Orienbeering and John Lewis claims that he and John Hilton are still Australian Orienbeering Champions having downed 13 coldies in 12 hotels over a 5km course in 59min. They share the title with a lamp-post which happened to get in the way. The extra drink was a navigational mistake and the bartender is still wondering about the clues he was asked to hand over.
Pub-O continued for some years in small towns like Ballan and Little River, usually on a Saturday night when Larry Sykes was setting courses the following day. Larry was an amateur magician, which explains some of his courses.
The Grog King at Easter events was another RK innovation. The rules were very simple – anyone who beat Louie was disqualified. Funnily enough, Louie never won the title, but Keith Pryor did one year and his winnings were well appreciated.
The Last Control
The RK post-event social always attracted visitors, particularly at cold events in winter. Graham Davies was chief pyromaniac for many years and his huge fires were the envy of other clubs. RKs were often the last to leave the event site and only after the supply of wood was exhausted.
Spreading the Ideal
When Larry Sykes ran off the map once too often and finished up in his native New Zealand he formed the Red Kiwis in Palmerston North. John and Karen Walker moved to Canberra and formed the Red Roos in which John was Head Roo for many years. His calendar cartoons in 1979 are collectors’ items now.
The distinctive red & white Red Kangaroo badge was designed from the reverse side of the one penny coin. Badges and t-shirts carrying this design were quickly snapped up during overseas trips.
RKs have been a part of Orienteering since its inception in this country and were a substantial source of innovative ideas and administrative expertise as the sport grew.
Sport Australia Hall of Fame
In 1992, Tom Andrews was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame with the following citation:
Tom Andrews OAM – Administration – Orienteering
Tom Andrews founded Orienteering in Australia. He organised the first orienteering event in Australia (Victoria) in August 1969, and produced the first Australian coloured Orienteering map in 1973 of Mt. Egerton, Victoria. He co-founded the Victorian Orienteering Association and the Orienteering Federation of Australia (now Orienteering Australia) in April 1970 and was Chairman of the OFA Promotion and Development Committee from 1970 to 1986.
Andrews was Chairman of the International Orienteering Federation (IOF) Promotion and Development Committee from 1980 to 1982.
Andrews organised the first international competition for Australian orienteers, the 1971 Australia-New Zealand Challenge, and organised the 1985 World Orienteering Championships in Bendigo. This was the first time that the event had been held outside Europe and Andrews was instrumental in obtaining the Championships for Australia.
Andrews was the recipient of the 1986 Silver Orienteering Award for his contribution to the development of Orienteering in Australia, and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1981.
Inspiration: “Cunning running”
Sport Australia Hall of Fame plaque in the National Sports Museum at the MCG, honouring Tom Andrews OAM.