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New Maps from Meridian

Little Desert National Park & Mt Arapiles Map Guide, 1st Edition and Victoria’s Deserts 4WD Touring Map, 5th Edition

   Little Desert National Park Cover MidRes    Victorias Deserts Ed5 COVER MidRes

 

The popular Victoria’s Deserts 4WD Touring Map, now in its 5th edition, is a ‘must’ when planning a trip to the beautiful deserts of Victoria. Released in August 2020, this is the map I’d spread out on the table to research everything this area offers. The main map at 1:350,000 (that’s about 3mm representing each km) is essentially a road map; it extends from the Murray south past Horsham and west across the border into South Australia. It is packed with up-to-date detail on roads, tracks and camping sites and it also highlights tourist activities such as the Silo Art Trail. There is even a list of recommended reading for visitors to the region.

On the reverse side of this large map are enlargements of seven popular areas, including Wyperfeld and Little Desert National Parks, Pink Lakes, Mt Arapiles and the northern Mallee. Scales of 1:100,000 (10mm per km) to 1:175,000 (about 6mm per km) are generally used; most walkers would find larger scales more helpful, although one could navigate from the enlargements at a pinch. Relief shading is used to illustrate topography, but, except for the Mt Arapiles map (1:50,000), no contours are shown – understandable on medium-scale maps of a relatively flat desert region. The grid is in Latitude/Longitude, which could be a challenge for those who use MGA grid references. These enlargements are also packed with clear, easy-to-read detail relevant to any visitor.

If the Little Desert, Mt Arapiles and the Wail State Forest are your areas of specific interest, then the new, smaller format Little Desert National Park & Mt Arapiles Map Guide is for you. Whilst essentially offering the same level of detail as the Victoria’s Deserts enlargements, these maps have slightly larger scales; the Mt Arapiles section is well-detailed at 1:20,000 and includes contours. These maps will interest walkers, as they show walking tracks in addition to vehicular tracks and roads. Again, lots of visitor information is included.

All of these maps are also available in georeferenced electronic form through the phone app Avenza. Once your trip planning’s completed using the paper map, you can hit the track with the electronic version. The GPS capability of the phone means you always know exactly where you are. This is the beauty of having the maps available both as paper and on a phone app which has full navigational ability. Interestingly, the electronic Little Desert map has an MGA-UTM grid overlayed, unlike the paper version.

As there are few maps of these fascinating areas, these publications would be an invaluable tool for those planning an adventure in this region post-COVID. As a bushwalker, when I’m on the track I prefer to use a large-scale map with contours and some indication of vegetation cover and other topographic features. However, for a touring or camping trip, I’d definitely use these paper maps for planning – this is where the Victoria’s Deserts maps really come into their own.

Andrew Robinson

  (Bushwalker, Camper, Mapping and Navigation trainer)

  • Victoria’s Deserts 4WD Touring Map, 5th Edition [RRP $14.95]; pdfPress release

  • Little Desert National Park & Mt Arapiles Map Guide, 1st Edition [RRP $8.95]; pdfPress release

Use lockdown time for navigation practice!

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“Practise, practise, practise'’ is a mantra well known to participants of Bushwalking Victoria's Smartphone navigation course.

Bushwalkers appreciate the need to hone their skills if they want to use a GPS or smartphone as a navigation device in the bush. So they may have been surprised to recently read this article, about a walker who was lost while on a solo 4 day walk on the Arizona Trail, in an area with numerous side trails. We asked Andrew Robinson, presenter of the smartphone navigation course and map expert, to share his thoughts with us. Below is his take on it and some very handy tips!

Although an experienced bushwalker, Gary Morris was using a new GPS, a Garmin GPSMAP 64st, which he had only tried out once previously. This seems akin to purchasing a new 4WD and, after a brief tryout, embarking on a solo crossing of the Simpson Desert! The article implies that Morris was not using a map and compass as a back-up. After being rescued, Morris’ mapping software was blamed for him becoming lost; there was no acknowledgment that his lack of experience with the new device may have contributed.

COVID-19 lockdown is an ideal time to “Practise, practise, practise'’ while walking the streets within 5km of your home. You can't really get lost there! Start by updating the software of your GPS/Smartphone. Many of the navigation apps, eg. Avenza, maps.me, Terra Map and many others, have added new features and updated their maps. You now have time to explore the online manuals and help files. It’s amazing what features and tricks you can find there. Then hit the streets and try navigating to waypoints, tracking, following a route, etc. This adds interest and enhances skills on the daily walk with the dog.

A couple of tips:

  • The compass on most GPS\Smartphones uses a magnetic sensor. Just as with a magnetic compass, those functions on the GPS/smartphone which use the magnetic sensor will be affected by metallic objects such as vehicles, metal fences, etc. These functions include the compass (obviously!), but also one which indicates direction of travel and one which orients the map in the direction of travel. In a few apps (e.g. Terra Map), one can switch from a magnetic compass to a 'GPS' one. Direction is then determined from GPS points, but this only works when one is moving.
  • Some GPS’s have a “Lock on Road” function. Turn it off! This function allows the GPS to lock its position pointer onto the nearest road or track. It can cause major confusion if there are lots of tracks in the area, or if you want to go off track. It is sometimes set ‘ON’ by default in a new GPS. Interestingly, Morris’ Garmin GPSMAP 64st had this feature: I wonder if he knew enough to turn it off.

HOW A CLUB CAN LEAP INTO ACTION AMIDST COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

Boroondara Bushwalkers show that where there is a will, there is a way!

Article by Lyn Atkinson and images by Fran Callinan

Like all bushwalkers, we were dismayed at Boroondara Bushwalkers when the initial COVID-19 restrictions were announced in late March by the thought of no bushwalking. We followed advice and cancelled all walks until the end of June.

But then came the glimmer of light in mid-May. Restricted walks were allowed: limited numbers, no carpooling, keeping 1.5m apart, no shared food or afternoon coffee stops after the walk. The committee leaped into action and put together a program of day walks that satisfied the new rules.

This is the story of what we did, what we learned, and how it all went.

The first problem to overcome was that our members traditionally signed up for walks on a sheet of paper at a monthly meeting. A minority would phone or email the leader directly. Our IT experts quickly implemented a system of online sign-up using links to Google Docs from a members-only page on our website. This proved easy to use, although it involved a lot of effort to maintain.

A request went out to leaders to submit suitable walks close to the city, and they responded enthusiastically. In the 48 days between our first “COVID Walk” on 22 May and the reintroduction of hard lockdown on 9 July, the club offered 35 walks.  Seventy percent were weekday walks, in stark contrast to our usual program where two-thirds of day walks are held on weekends. Most participating leaders offered two or three walks. One outstanding contributor put together a five-stage odyssey along the Darebin Creek from Willsmere Park to Billabong Circuit. He identified suitable parking areas, lunch and toilet stops. His plan enabled circuit walks ranging from 10 to 14km along both sides of the creek. Thanks to recent good rainfall there was a plentiful flow of water and a surprising abundance of birdlife in the bushy surrounds.

Plenty River Gorge Bundoora 1

Plenty River Gorge Bundoora

A total of 80 people, sixty percent of our total active walkers for 2020,  participated in at least one of these COVID walks. Over half of the walkers completed up to three walks during the restriction period, while a couple of intrepid members made double figures! Members quickly adapted to the new ways of signing up for walks and were not troubled by any perceived virus risk.

Maximum group numbers allowed changed from 10 to 20 then back to 10, necessitating quick communication to leaders and members. For a few walks, those on a waiting list missed out. Some popular walks with long waiting lists were divided into two sections, departing half an hour apart. This required and extra leader to step up at the eleventh hour. Overall the club averaged 9 participants per walk.

The total distance walked by all participants was approximately 3500km. Walking in a relay, that would have got us from Melbourne to Perth, notwithstanding that no one was allowed to cross state borders!

Darebin Creek

Darebin Creek

Two lasting benefits have come from the lockdown situation. Firstly, we have gained an online sign-up system that can continue into the future. Secondly, we have discovered a multitude of new walks in Melbourne’s abundant green spaces. Our walks coordinators are now compiling a resource of maps and track notes which will be made available to members. This will be a great innovation, particularly while we may only exercise in pairs.

While everyone is looking forward to the time when we can resume our traditional walks, we have made the best of the situation to maintain the twin benefits of fitness and mental wellbeing that comes from bushwalking.

Bolin Bolin track Bulleen

Bolin Bolin Track in Bulleen

COVID-19 Restrictions and Bushwalking - UPDATED 28 October

ADVICE TO BUSHWALKERS AND BUSHWALKING CLUBS

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Victoria's current COVID-19 restrictions, apply:

For bushwalking clubs in the Melbourne Metropolitan Area

Bushwalking Clubs in Metro Melbourne can now offer walks programs for no more than 10 walkers at a time who will be walking within 25km of their homes, adhering to government COVID-19 rules for travel, social distancing, hand hygiene, traveling together, and mask-wearing. The details are here

Can I exercise with others?

'You can exercise with other people within 25km of your home:

  • You can exercise with your household.
  • With a group of up to ten people outside.
  • You can compete or train in a non-contact community sport outside with the number of people required to play the sport.
  • Babies who are less than 12 months old are not counted in the ten-person limit.'

For bushwalking clubs in Regional Victoria

The details for Regional Victoria are here. Pertinent sections for bushwalking clubs are:

'Exercise and recreation: Outdoor contact and non-contact sport for people aged 18 and younger, outdoor non-contact sport only for adults, with gathering and density limits, outdoor skateparks open, outdoor fitness for groups of 10 people.

'Public gatherings of up to 10 people outdoors are allowed.'

Regional bushwalking clubs in Victoria can thus commence offering walks programs for no more than 10 walkers at a time, adhering to government COVID-19 rules for travel, social distancing, hand hygiene, traveling together, and mask-wearing.

Advice about travel and carpooling:

  • 'Can I have passengers in my car? Where possible, carrying passengers in your car should be avoided, unless they live in your household or are part of your bubble. The enclosed space of a car presents a heightened risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Can I use taxis and ride-shares? Yes, you can. You must wear a face mask and so must your driver. Where possible, maintain physical distancing by sitting in the back seat, and wash or sanitise your hands before and after getting in the vehicle. '

Advice about mask-wearing: 

Full details are available here.

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