Comp puts Downs on map

ORIENTEERS from New Caledonia are out in force on the Southern Downs for the Australian Easter Three-day Orienteering championships.

There are 250 orienteers in New Caledonia and 23 were in the Talgai State Forest between Pratten and Thane's Creek for the second day of the three-day competition which attracted 660 competitors.

Paul Bejan is a doctor in New Caledonia and is in Australia for four days but some of his countrymen are spending almost a fortnight down under.

"This is my second orienteering trip to Australia. Five of us flew in for an event in Ipswich in 2004," Bejan said.

The New Caledonian squad comes from varying backgrounds - Line Roirand is a member of the French Army while Pascal Polliand is an electrician.

There were competitors from six countries at the event.

State orienteering development officer Liz Bourne, of Stanthorpe, was upbeat about the success and the great weather.

"An orienteer who works for the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne predicted really hot temperatures but it isn't too hot yet," Bourne said as competitors warmed up for Sunday's competition.

"Orienteers compete in any weather, I was in a competition with sunshine, rain and snow all in the one day in Victoria," Bourne said.

"The Southern Downs country is excellent for orienteering but rocks can be quite treacherous if wet."

Club support makes for successful sporting competition and 25 members of the Palawanga Club from the ACT made it to the Southern Downs.

"We have competitors aged nine to 70, and most of us go to each Easter three-day competition. Our group includes a couple in the elite classes," club member Jill Walker said.

One of the regulars at Easter three-day competitions, Darwin orienteer Susi Bertei, said the course at Applethorpe on Saturday was a bit tricky.

"I like getting out in the bush, it's mentally challenging and you see a lot of friends," Bertei said.


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