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The other side of the carnival  | Behind the OZ champs
By Christo Peters - Wed 2 Nov 2022 11:09pm

A huge thank you to Orienteering Australia and David Jaffe for letting us re-print this article on the side of orienteering carnivals that the general public never sees:

Nine races in nice days.  Bigger than O-Ringen, Swiss O week, Scotland’s skimpy six days and Finland’s feeble five days. We Aussies are made of sterner stuff.  Well it should really have been 8 races in 9 days…that’s a normal carnival and probably more than big enough. Then Warren Key said “I think we should have a second race on the first weekend to make sure everyone wants to come”.  Lots of people said “no Warren, don’t be stupid, it won’t work” but he is a man of conviction. The original ideas was to at least use some of the same infrastructure as the morning event. However the potential of having a race in the centre of Daylesford knocked that on the head. The idea morphed from the Australasian Short Champs to what became the Orienteering Grand Prix.  The idea was also to have lots of people from the town come and watch…then about four weeks out it dawned on a few of us that it was Grand Final afternoon and that Daylesford would become a ghost town. We also ran 3 come-and-try events in Daylesford in the lead up to try and get locals out!  Well for those who missed the opening ceremony and Grand Prix it was a unique event and very exciting.  The local councillor was blown away by the excitement and enthusiasm.

Another hidden secret of the carnival was the Covid outbreak at the camp that Sue Guinane and the team managers some how stopped becoming a carnival ending super spreader event.  The covid plan kicked in, people were isolated, parents drove thousands of KM’s to get sick students. Testing and mask wearing kicked back in and risky events like the disco were moved to the last night and it worked! We think there were less than a dozen cases, still no fun for those who got sick but not a carnival ending event,  The schools carnival was also more than just the three days of schools championship events. If you haven’t seen some of the video challenges that made up the Scavenger hunt, then you have missed out on some amazing meat pie eating,  no-handed vanilla slice eating and so forth. They also had the traditional trivia night, disco, movie nights and the like. Grant Bluett also gave an inspiring speech at the prize giving reflecting on the life long friendships he had built in the sport.

The new maps each had a story.  Victoria’s chief mapper Warwick Davis lives in Sunbury and has had his eye on Salesian College for some time.  Then the Principal approached us about the school getting back into Orienteering and the deal was done.  Neil Barr has long admired Nuggety Range but wasn’t sure if all the private parts would be too constraining but having granite and gold on one map worked a treat and the map was great!  Lastly Blackwood was partly my fault. Fredo was staying at our place during Covid and wanted to go for a long run so we agreed to meet him up at Shaws lake (now on the map)  and bring a picnic.  He was quite excited when he got to us and said there was some gold mining. We started exploring and went, wow…how did we miss that?  It was only a small area but it seemed too good to miss so it just snowballed from there.

Then there were the near misses. 48 hours from the start of the schools long at Mt Alexander, the land owner himself got bogged in his own paddock so car parking was not an option.  MFR kicked into plan B hired 3 buses driven by OV president Carl Dalheim, carnival director Warwick Williams and Fergus Fitzwater. They all claim they enjoyed it so much that it is a possible career move and the alternative arrangements seemed to work. The Harcourt General store had their best ever day of business because of that but asked for some extra notice next time. Of course there were all the usual issues – one missing control, one stolen just before an event but found in time, one broken SI unit, injuries, long queues for downloads one day, a few courses short of a picnic and 50 maps found to be missing at midnight before the AUS champs. Jim Russell was woken from his tent, did a mercy dash back to Bendigo and printed 50 more! Another hidden hero of the carnival.

Lastly, the coffee and ice cream guy (Tino) had an amazing week.  On day two he brought 30 litres of ice cream and we ate it and by Sunday he was bringing 60 litres and we ate it all. He made it all himself and was up to midnight each day making the next batch. He still doesn’t really understand Orienteering but he thinks everyone is awesome and will help with any future carnival.

So those are just a few of the behind the scenes stories. We hope everyone had a great week and thanks again to everyone who helped, ran or supported in any way.

David Jaffe  |  Vice President, Orienteering Victoria

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