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History of Yalanga Orienteers
Written by Doug McMurray, 2004
Based on article by Dexter Palmer, 1995 [1995 Click here to read Dexter Palmer's Original Article]
The Formative Years
When Yalanga Orienteering Club was first formed it was known as Lone
Orienteering Club (or possibly Lone Orienteers Club). It is unfortunate
that records of those early years are lost in time. However, copies of
minutes from meetings exist from November 1978, and the earliest map
used by the club, that is dated and copies of which still exist, is
dated 1977. This map was named Coach Road Reserve. The commencement
date was, therefore, in or before 1977. Lone was an affiliated club
under the Orienteering Association of South Australia (OASA).
club produced an M21 champion and conducted two “very successful”
events during 1978. However, the club was beginning to struggle. Maps
were becoming “redundant” and there was a lack of helpers for mapping
and events. At one point there were only four members, one of whom felt
the pressure and soon left to join another club. The chairman (as the
president was then known) proposed near the end of 1978 that the club
either cease to exist or start a new lease of life under a new name and
an active membership drive.
list of names derived from Aboriginal words was put forward at a
meeting on 15 November 1978. This was reduced to a short list of four
names, the new name to be decided by a vote of members at a social
meeting at Old Coach Reserve (now part of the Knott Hill map) on 26
November 1978. It is assumed that the name “Yalanga” was selected at
this meeting as in the following year, surviving minutes show the club
as Yalanga Orienteering Club. The kangaroo was chosen as the club
emblem and the club colours as blue and gold, although the gold is
usually rendered as yellow.
was good enough evidence (and excuse) for the club to celebrate 25
years as Yalanga on 9 November 2003 at Belair National Park. This was a
big social occasion, and as per tradition, was preceded by a novelty
O-course. The occasion was attended by the majority of current members
and families together with many previous members and their now grown
The Growth Years
The change of club name and revived enthusiastic drive worked. The
club, now known as Yalanga, soon began to grow quite rapidly. Several
new members joined over 1979-1981, with a large influx of new members
in the early 80’s. Many of these new members are still active members
of the club (in 2004). The longest serving member of the club has been
with us since 1979. Along with more members, new maps were produced and
old maps revised to the latest standards, more events per year were
run, the financial position of the club improved (from $116.84 in the
early 80’s), and there were more social occasions.
of the very early maps as Lone Orienteers were black and white maps.
Then in 1997 two three-colour maps were produced, followed in the early
80’s by some five-colour maps. In those early 80’s with the club
running more events per year, there was a shortage of club-owned maps.
Some areas were used several times per year and frequently it was
necessary to borrow maps from other clubs. However, with increasing
membership and those members gaining experience in all aspects of
orienteering, it was possible for the club to produce good quality maps
of new areas. There's no doubt that the production of these maps was a
great boost to the morale of the club which had hovered on the brink
for so long. Many of these later maps were produced in areas that were
away from the traditional orienteering areas of the Adelaide Hills, in
areas such as Burra in the mid-north and in the Riverland. Some
enthusiastic members were involved with orienteering in schools and
produced many maps of school grounds and suburban parklands. The latter
were used by schools as well as for park-style events particularly in
the hotter summer months. In around the year 2000 modern technology was
adopted and maps were drawn using OCAD (a computer program specifically
designed for drawing orienteering maps).
the two events run by Lone Orienteers in 1978, Yalanga now regularly
ran 5 to 7 events per year, about the same number as the other
metropolitan clubs. Starting from around the mid-80’s, Yalangan members
had gained sufficient experience to map and run major events such as
Badge Events and State Championships. Yalanga’s organisational skills
are highly regarded in the Orienteering community, and have been
exercised on numerous occasions to create or contribute to major
events. Yalanga has been successful in running the finish procedures
and getting results out in a timely manner, for major OASA events such
as 1998 Broken Hill Easter Carnival, and the National Championships in
the Flinders Ranges in 2002. Additionally, Yalanga organised and ran a
highly successful State Championships near Burra in Sept. 2004 (photos
& results) with everything running to perfection, again in a remote
the club as Lone produced an M21 Champion in 1978, there was a short
lull in members achieving notable performance status. This was no doubt
while the club concentrated on organising its activities. However,
Yalanga members now regularly win or come high on the list of winners
at local, State, National and International level, and in a wide range
of age classes, both male and female. Many members also take part in,
and do well in the allied sports of MTBO (mountain bike orienteering)
social aspect of the club has been regarded as very important right
from those early days. At some time in the early 80’s the club was
regarded in some circles as “the social club” – tending to concentrate
on post-event activities, in particular on round-the-campfire
activities, more so than on on-course performance. On more than one
occasion after an event run by another club, Yalanga members have been
asked to leave as the organisers wanted to lock the gate and go home!
Some of these extremes have moderated, but social activities such as
the annual dinner or lunch and trophy presentation and the post-AGM
activities remain central as important dates in the calendar.
the official side, the club became incorporated on 27 June 1984 as
Yalanga Orienteers Club Incorporated, with a revised constitution. The
constitution was revised again in 1996 in line with revised legislative
requirements. Since the late 1980's Yalanga has functioned as a
moderately successful middle sized club. It is now the owner of many
maps , largely thanks to the field-working efforts of Irena Palmer and
the cartographic skills of Ian Smith. It has also played a big part in
the development of schools orienteering thanks first of all to Barb
Smith and later Irena Palmer.
Traditions are, of course, important to all organisations and Yalanga
has many traditions, some of which are different to the usual way of
running orienteering clubs, and some are worthy of further mention.
way Yalanga conducts its business started in those early days of the
late 70’s with only four, and then three members. When the committee
met, the whole club met and made decisions on club business. Even to
this day, although Yalanga has the usual elected committee, nearly all
club business is conducted at club meetings to which all club members
are invited. The great advantages to this way of conducting business
are that all club members can become involved; it encourages team
spirit; enables new members to feel part of the club much quicker;
members are more likely to take on tasks; and it has a social side with
the post-meeting gathering round coffee, beer, and delicious nibbles.
Yalanga tradition is the president’s prerogative to decide on the
annual trophy winners. The trophies include Club Champion, Mappers
Award, Junior Encouragement Award, Performance of the Year, and the
Barb Wire Jocks! The president never awards him/herself – one
“disadvantage” of being president.
of these awards need special mention/explanation. The first is the
performance of the Year Award. Contrary to what one may think,
“performance” refers to something a member does that is real bad or
dumb. Examples include the following:
In a team relay, forgetting to punch a master control not once but twice!
Some members have even won this trophy twice!
For sending both team mates to the same control!
For exchanging two controls that were in the right locations!
For spending 60min on a 400m leg at a State Champs!
For getting 4WD’s heavily bogged during control pick up (two members)!
the Barb Wire Jocks (BWJ) award is regarded as special (to non-winners)
and is probably unique within orienteering clubs. The term "barbed wire
jocks" was a term quoted among a group of Yalanga runners in the early
'80s, usually being used to describing a running feat out of the
ordinary, that was considered to be heroic, or foolish, or both. Then
in 1983, Peter Thompson (who was Yalanga President at the time), while
competing at an orienteering event at Kenton Valley, was struck in the
thigh by a (spent) bullet fired from a shooting range not so far away.
It knocked him over, and lodged in his leg. Peter had the presence of
mind to remove the bullet, stop the bleeding, and continued on and
completed his course.
so the Yalanga Barbed Wire Jocks Award was born with Peter Thompson as
inaugural winner. The criteria for this award are simple - you must be
injured or become distressed to a level where any sane person would
retire and seek assistance, but nonetheless refuse all help and
complete your course.
trophy is not awarded every year, as it needs that deserving effort (or
opportunity) that does not readily arise. Nevertheless, the BWJ award
has found deserving recipients for most of the years since it's advent.
The trophy itself is a tasteful weave of agricultural barbed wire, in
the shape of underwear, painted red, atop a wooden block mount
(festooned with badges since 1983).
While arising from humble beginnings, Yalanga Orienteers Club has
become a respected club with its own culture and traditions, and
triumphs, and continues to play a significant role in the orienteering
life of our region, in its own distinctive way.
It is a multicultural and family focussed club with members of all ages. All welcome to be part of the Yalanga family.