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Insights from an IOF Controller
By Christo Peters - Wed 22 Feb 2023 2:02am

At the invitation of Orienteering Australia, Luděk Krtička, a Member of the IOF Map Commission, visited Australia during the 2022 Australian Orienteering Championship week of Events held in Victoria. The primary purpose of his visit was to show him a variety of Australian mapped terrains, to assess the quality of map making and to have regard to the mapping of these terrains to the current mapping standards of the International Specification for Orienteering Maps 2017 (ISOM2017) and the International Specification for Sprint Orienteering Maps 2019 (ISSprOM2019).

Luděk became a Member of the Map Commission in 2016, is Chief Cartographer in his home country of the Czech Republic and has mapping experience in Canada, Spain, Israel, Austria and other countries. He has expertise in cartography, geography, geoinformatics and currently lectures at the University of Ostrava.

His map visit focussed mostly on the historic gold mining terrains in Victoria which included the orienteering maps of Deadmans Flat, Jubilee Lake, Petticoat Junction and the infamous and extremely complex terrain of Rowdy Flat at Yackandandah. Other terrains included the granite rock maps of Mt Kooyoora and Kangaroo Crossing.

The map walks and the Mapping Workshop were organised by Noel Schoknecht, Mapping Convenor, Orienteering Western Australia.

Luděk preparing for a run at Mt Kooyoora, together with Noel Schoknecht

Overall Luděk found the quality of mapping to be of a good standard and was particularly impressed with the 2022 Australian Championship maps. The main observations in respect to his map visits are summarised here:

Probably the most important observation was his finding about the unnecessary use of undersize symbols on several 1:10000 scale maps and that for these maps it is possible to map the terrain to current specifications. ISOM clearly states that other map scales of say 1:10000 or 1:7500 are a strict enlargement of the symbols at the 1:15000 scale. 

Rowdy Flat however, may be an exception for mapping at the 1:15000 scale given its extreme complex terrain of many large identifiable features often close together. Here it may be difficult if not impossible, even after applying generalisation, to be able to map the terrain in a legible manner that presents a ‘true picture’ of the terrain to the orienteer. In this situation a possible solution may be to map the terrain at the sprint scale of 1:4000.

The complex terrain and difficult to read map of Rowdy Flat (currently mapped to the scale of 1:10000 using some undersize map symbols) is suggested for remapping to the sprint scale of 1:4000. Further, LIDAR derived base maps would greatly help in the remapping process.

The over-mapping of many small features renders them difficult to identify on the map and in the terrain. Where areas of a map are overpopulated with a lot of small features the principles of simplification and generalisation should be applied thereby improving the legibility of the map. The requirements of minimum dimensions, gaps and lengths as introduced in ISOM2017 also aims to improve the legibility of maps for ‘running navigation’.

As an example of simplification and generalisation, Luděk presented the illustration (at the start of this article0 at the Carnival’s Mapping Workshop where an overpopulated area of detail was simplified to a few well drafted features easily identified both on the map and in the terrain. As can be seen the original map used some undersized symbols including Rocky pit (black ‘V’) which may indeed be a dangerous mineshaft and accordingly must be clearly shown and obvious on the map.  The remapped area also has regard to minimum dimensions and gaps as specified in ISOM2017.

The Earth bank symbol is overused in some situations as they are often easily crossed. Here it is better to show the shape of the land with contour and form lines and only use 104 Earth bank symbol where there is an abrupt change in ground level, particularly where it reduces running speed. The IOF O-Map Wiki provides photographic examples for correct / incorrect use of symbol 104.

‘Jubilee Lake’ below provides an example of a shallow gully having no impact on running speed hence it should be drawn with contours rather than using an Earth bank. Here the Earth bank symbol gives the wrong impression and may influence route choice as such.

The mapping of granite terrain is well done, in particular ‘Mt Kooyoora’ was described as a ‘Fantastic area and map.’ There was discussion about minimum spacings between some Boulders and other black features, but this was minor. There are a lot of undersize Bare rock areas which could either be left off or enlarged, but noting this map was first made back in 1984 when minimum areas had not been defined as per current mapping requirements.

Given that old orienteering maps may be based on distorted base map material and to save time correcting and changing an old map, it is advised to use LIDAR, if available, for new mapping. Indeed, with GPS tracking of athletes it is now important for maps to be spatially accurate.

There was also a map walk at Salesian College, Sunburry, which was used for the Australian Sprint Championships. This map was generally of a good standard and legible. Several orienteers joined us for this map walk including the mapper and course planner. 

The terrain visits, discussions with local mappers, organisers and others were invaluable for Luděk, while his presentation at the Mapping Workshop was very informative and constructive. Although there was some discussion on the possibility of introducing another map scale between 1:15000 and 1:4000 (or even a variable scale), it is considered this is not necessary as the current specifications provide a good balance between symbol size and map scale so as to achieve a high standard of map legibility for the essential purpose of ‘running navigation’.

Luděk’s reports are available on the Orienteering Australia website, Mapping pages:

        •       Report on mapping visit to Australia, 7 October 2022, Luděk Krtička

        •       Review of mapping in SE Australia, 20 Sept – 5 October 2000, Luděk Krtička

By Adrian Uppill. Reprinted with permission from Orienteering SA

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