If you’re new to orienteering or looking to try out a new form of the sport then this guide will help you get started. There’s information about what happens at events, introductory coaching material plus tips to help make your first few events easier.

Conceptually, orienteering is a simple sport: you need to find things! The precise location of markers is shown on a map and all you need to do is visit them. Getting started is easy plus you will meet some fantastic people, visit wonderful places and get both your body and mind active. As you progress with the sport you will learn new skills and also improve your fitness. There are plenty of orienteers that can help you along the way and the club structure is very supportive.

What is Orienteering?

Orienteering involves navigating though the bush, parks or streets with the aid of a specially produced map and sometimes an orienteering compass. There are a number of checkpoints (controls) marked on the map and you need to plan your own route to visit each one.

Orienteering is an incredibly flexible sport with how, where, when and who you participate all being up to you!

Run, jog or walk! Speed is up to you! You decide how quickly you would like
to go. The sport can be highly competitive with elite orienteers racing hard and vying for a spot on the Australian team that competes in the World Orienteering Championships annually. The sport does however have very broad appeal with many enthusiasts preferring to jog or walk. Every control at every event is a personal challenge and the reward of finding the controls plus getting outdoors for fitness and fun makes it a passion for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Alone or in a group! You decide if you would like to head out alone and enjoy the personal challenge or share the experience with friends or family. Orienteering is an engaging and very enjoyable recreational activity and if you would prefer to head out in a group that’s quiet okay. Many urban events are also wheelchair and stroller friendly.

All ages! Children often participate on their own from around 8 years of age. Younger children are also welcome but will usually need some help with the navigation. At major events there are often ‘string’ courses for the very young. As courses are graduated by both difficulty and distance there are courses to cater for people right through to the older age groups. Masters competitions even include over 90 year olds. So bring the family along as you can all participate at the same place, at the same time, at your own level and afterwards share the triumphs.

Hard, Moderate, Easy or Very Easy navigation! All orienteering events offer a range of courses to suit all levels of experience and fitness. An easy course is about 2km and on tracks. The hardest and longest course might be more than 10km and require cross-country running through forests with few or no tracks. It takes about 30 to 90 minutes to complete a course depending on which one you choose, how fast you go and if you follow the quickest route.

Foot or mountain bike! If you love the excitement of bikes, then give mountain bike orienteering a try. Just like with foot orienteering there’s short and long courses as well as options of available for newcomers as well as more technically challenging for the more experienced.

Close to home or explore further afield! Orienteering events are conducted in both urban and forest environments. If you like to stick to the suburbs and local parks then Park, Street and Sprint orienteering events are a great way to discover your local area. Bush and Mountain Bike events offer opportunities to get out of town and experience some of Australia’s amazing landscapes.

Summer, winter or all year round! There is no need to commit to a season or series, you are very welcome to pick the events, locations and days that suit you and only attend those events.

Orienteering Australia Getting Started Guides

Introduction To Orienteering Events in Australia

This section explains how events work and what you can expect at an event. Personal safety and etiquette are also covered.

Introductory Skills and Techniques

Skills and orienteering techniques that will assist you to navigate around your first few courses are covered. No matter what type of orienteering event you attend, the map skills and navigation tips covered will be applicable.

Specialist sections

All four of the major orienteering disciplines in Australia are covered. They are:

• Park and Street Orienteering
• Sprint Orienteering
• Bush Orienteering
• Mountain Bike Orienteering

Introductory information specific to each discipline is included.

It is recommended that you read the Introduction To Orienteering Events and Introductory Skills and Techniques first as they cover the majority of skills and information that will help you get underway.
They also include information that is assumed knowledge in the Specialist sections.