The Orienteering Map
The orienteering map is made specifically for orienteering. It shows a lot of detail on a smaller area than most maps. The maps below illustrate how these features appear on the orienteering map. Maps are oriented with magnetic north at the top.
Photos illustrating some common map legend symbols are contained in the attached document - MapPhotoNotesv2.pdf
The map legend uses standardised symbols to describe the terrain for orienteering. Map legends are specifc to the map type and can be downloaded for your use
The symbols are grouped by colours as below
LANDFORM - brown
Contours to show the shape of the land - commonly 5 m contour interval
Other earth features such as earth mounds, banks and termite mounds
WATER FEATURES - blue
- watercourses - mostly dry in Australia
- lakes and ponds
MAN MADE FEATURES - black
- tracks and paths
ROCKS AND BOULDERS - black
VEGETATION - white, yellow and green
- white is open forest, fast run
- yellow is open land such as ovals and parks, fastest running
- light green is forest with some undergrowth, slow run
- mid green is forest with more undergrowth to make running difficult
- dark green is for thickets which are very difficult to pass through
The Orienteering Course
At most orienteering events, several orienteering courses are available. A course is printed on the orienteering map (for features of the orienteering map refer to the Orienteering Map page). The common features of a course are
- where you start, usually identified by a triangle
- a series of control sites that you will visit, these are marked by a circle, numbered in order and marked by connecting lines
- description of what to look for at each control site, the feature is in the centre of the circle and will be marked on the ground by an orange and white flag
- on each control flag will be a punch either manual or electronic, these are used to prove you have visited each control site in order
- a finish location marked by a double circle on the map
The control descriptions list the number of the control, the code on the control flag, a description of the feature, and any additional information about where the flag is lcoated. The descriptions are in English or for harder navigational courses, in International Orienteering Control Description symbols (used world wide). The control descriptions also list the length of the course (measured in a straight line) and the number of metres of climb.
English and International control descriptions for a course
Explanation of the symbols is available at events
Dowload the table of symbols and how they relate
Orienteering Courses are classified into 4 levels of navigational difficulty
1. VERY EASY - 1.5 - 2.5 km, 20- 40 mins to complete
Suitable for younger children (8-10 year olds), beginners and family groups. Course follow tracks and other major features. Compass not necessary
2. EASY - 2.5 - 3 km, 25 - 50 mins to complete
Requires basic map reading skills, recreational entry to orienteering. For walkers, joggers, groups, bush walkers. Compass optional.
3. MODERATE - 2.5 - 5 km, 25 - 80 mins to complete
Knowledge of map reading and navigation. Some cross country navigation on bush maps. Compass recommended on bush maps.
4. HARD - 3 - 15 km - 40 - 140 mins
Several course lengths provided suitable for different age groups. For experienced orienteers with good map reading and navigational skills, requires compass on bush maps. Can be physically demanding. Highly competitive at the elite level.