By Bryn Soden
What a gorgeous time of year. What a perfect day for a cheery jaunt around the Sturt Gorge. Not even the occasional brown snake sighting could spoil the effect of the blue skies, green earth, roaring river, and energised rogainers scurrying around the nooks and crannies of this beautiful little corner of the earth.
It has been a long time since I last was involved in one of these events. I got dragged out on a few in my teens and early twenties, but a fierce competitive streak combined with pretty poor physical fitness did not make for particularly good rogainer material – though I do still have fond memories of stumbling into the hash house after being lost all night on a 24 hour event, and consuming my body weight in cheese toasties, bacon, and french toast. Over the lockdown, however, I discovered a newfound passion for running, spurred on largely by the discovery that harnessing our two energetic kelpies to a belt around my waist would allow me to essentially just hop in place while they did the bulk of the work. Dear old mum saw an opportunity to capitalise on this rare occurrence of a shared passion (she’s never been particularly keen on Nintendo games and depressing folk music) and invited me along. I agreed, in spite of hesitations revolving around the loss of my twin canine outboard motors, and prickly memories of another gorge-based rogaine where an icy swim across a river and a stretch of vertical commando crawling through weapons-grade brambles couldn’t save us from a disqualification for late return. Having now experienced this glorious day out, I am glad that I agreed to participate in this one.
I have lived for most of my life in the suburbs around these parts, growing up in two different houses in Hawthorndene, attending university at Flinders, and spending time at friends’ houses all around Bellevue Heights, Craigburn Farm, and Flagstaff Hill, so perhaps the most interesting part of this event was connecting the dots and discovering how closely these suburbs actually sit, relative to one another. I remember boring my poor old mum with multiple exclamations of “That’s Will’s house just down there!”, “Bryce used to live on this street!”, “Oh wow, this control is right by Harry’s place!”, and the like. On reflection, I am realising that whatever goodwill I may have gained by agreeing to join her for this event may have been totally undermined by the revelation that the expensive schooling she paid to put me through left me without even the slightest understanding of basic local geography. Nevertheless, it was still a treat to finally put these puzzle pieces together, and to realise how much time I could have saved in my life if “as the crow flies” was an actual method of travel, rather than just a wishful idiom.