President’s Report – SARA AGM  16 March 2024

Dear Fellow Rogainers,

I’d like to acknowledge that today we meet on the land of the Kaurna people, and pay my respects to Kaurna elders, past present and emerging. I acknowledge and respect their ongoing connection to country. I do this in the spirit of reconciliation.

A warm welcome to the start of the rogaine season for 2024.

Firstly, a big thank you to first time setter Meredith Norman, with the experienced Paul Hoopman and Des Norman for the Twilight event. What a great start to 2024. Thank you also to all volunteers making things run smoothly on the day, especially admin led by Ruth Ambrose.

Our main reason for existing is to run rogaine events, so here is a brief review from last year:

  1. Our season opener was the Twilight 4 hour, The Stirling Pump, held in leafy Stirling and surrounds, based at the Stirling East Primary School. Lead setter was Guy Schubert, ably assisted by the experienced Jo Powell and Craig Colwell. This was very well attended with 157 teams. Although I have lived near this area all my life, I discovered a few previously unknown paths, which is always a delight!
  1. Hot on the heels of the Twilight event was the, McLaren No Flats, Velogaine on Saturday 15 April. This was set by SARA Treasurer Doug Gillot, assisted by Emma Mc Cambridge and Jason Morton. The area was so lovely to explore, that several teams decided to stay out longer than the 4-hour time limit!
  1. Next up was the popular 15- or 8-hour bush roving format at Witchitie Station, in the Southern Flinders Ranges on 3 – 4 June, with the event all on the one property. This was set by experienced setting team Sue and Peter Milnes and Rob Tucker. The event will be remembered for interesting navigating, beautiful creek lines, warmer than expected temperatures, spectacular thunderstorms overnight and the relentless prickles. It was also the maiden voyage of Peter’s new trailer, with a special trailer opening ceremony after the event. It was great to see some new names from trail running and adventure racing at the pointy end of the competition.
  1. Next on the line up was the 2023 State Championships 24-hour and 12-hour, Dragons of Dingley Dell, on 5 – 6 August. For this event we used a new area, ‘Oraparrina’ in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park (I-FRNP), with the very experienced (and cunning) setter, Mark Corbett leading the setting. Committee members Rob Tucker and Peter Milnes, liaised with the I-FRNP, Co-Management Board for permission to use this area over a couple of years. The Callitris pines and the spectacular sunset were a personal highlight. Fifty-five teams attended with two interstate Mens teams taking out first and second places. Father and daughter team Ron and Josie Smernik took out 3rd place and the Mixed trophy boot.
  1. The bush 6-hour, Para Wirra and the Goldfields, set by committee members Shanti Osborne and Keith Humphries was held on a perfect spring day based at Para Wirra. One hundred and nine teams competed including some first-time locals! Congratulations to Shanti and Keith, first time bush setters on a successful event which received much positive feedback. Holding this in spring meant that there was plenty of daylight to enjoy the soup and rolls at the end of the event.
  1. Last up was the popular 3-hour Minigaine, The Secret Garden, on Saturday 4 November, run by our friends from the Scouts Association. Special thanks to volunteers for the smooth and efficient management of such a large number of participants – 176 teams!

On behalf of the SARA committee, I sincerely thank all who volunteered to help organise these events, representing many hundreds of hours of volunteering. These events could not have occurred without the collective effort of many.

2024 events

Again, planning is well underway for the usual fun in 2024 with events up on our website (some evolving as I type). The Australian Rogaining Championships are being held this year in WA on 7 – 8 September, with some SA rogainers planning to attend.

We encourage you to plan ahead to attend the bush events which are always memorable. We are particularly keen to remind rogainers after the long events, of your responsibility to make sure you have at least one driver who has had a good sleep for the drive home. Even better, plan to camp on site after the rogaine and enjoy sharing stories around a small campfire with other rogainers and drive back the next day when well rested.

Financial status

As you will see in the treasurer’s report, we have recently been independently audited with the conclusion again that the 2023 account has been properly drawn and maintained, so it is a true and fair view of the state of affairs of SARA as at 31 December 2023.  Thank you, Doug, for another year of rigorous financial management.


On other matters, the committee met in January as has been our recent practice, to do some big picture planning, covering several areas. These included:

  • A review of some sections of risk management from 2023, with one outcome around safety being that the SARA committee will more strongly promote the importance of rogainers not driving home from bush events when tired.
  • Development of a SARA funding policy to facilitate younger rogainers to attend national and international events. This is separate to the ARA administered Nigel Aylott Memorial scheme which provides grants to assist university students to attend the Australian Rogaining Championships, and can also be applied for. More information on these funding sources and how to apply will be provided during the year. If you may be interested in funds, please get in touch with the committee via the contact details on our website.
  • The date for the next Cactus Cull is 22 – 28 April (includes school holidays and ANZAC long weekend). For further information, contact Richard Sprod, whose details are on the SARA website.
  • Some exciting news in 2027 – it is the Southern Hemisphere’s turn to host the World Rogaining Championships. The Australian Rogaining Association is placing a bid to host the 2027 World Rogaining Championships in Ikara- Flinders Ranges with SARA responsible for setting and Craig Colwell coordinating. Craig has already put considerable effort into drafting the bid. Mark Corbett has tentatively accepted the role of lead setter. If the bid is successful, this would occur a couple of weeks before SA hosts the Australian Orienteering Championships in September. SARA will plan carefully to use primarily rogaining volunteers to not impact volunteers needed by Orienteering SA. This is a unique opportunity to attend a World Rogaining Championships right here in South Australia, so save the date and we will keep you posted.

South Australian rogainers on the international stage

In July 2023, our very own Junior Women’s Team the ‘Dream Team’ Meredith Norman, Abigail George and Joanna George, travelled to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California USA to defend their World Champion Junior Women’s Title.

As many will know, Meredith, Abigail and Joanna again outclassed the competition to be 2023 Junior Womens World Champions once again. Congratulations!

The SARA, along with the ARA and the Nigel Aylott Scholarship Memorial Foundation (NASMF) were pleased to be able to offer sponsorship support to these tenacious young women.

To conclude, I wish to formally acknowledge the goodwill, hard work and competence of the committee. All make unique and valuable contributions in different ways at different times:

  • Craig Colwell, Vice President, Public Officer of the Australian Rogaining Association, mapper, perpetual organiser, maker of excellent scones
  • Jo Powell, Secretary, enews editor, coordinator, setter and certificate designer
  • Doug Gillott, Treasurer, setter, coordinator and mapper
  • Evelyn Colwell, Volunteer Coordinator, setter, past Treasurer
  • Steve Gray, Navlight World Expert, Secretary of the Australian Rogaining Organisation, anything IT and common sense, mapping
  • Sophie Carmichael – social media – what a fantastic job Sophie has been doing raising SARA’s profile on Facebook and Instagram. Thank you, Sophie.
  • Richard Sprod, Cactus Cull organiser, coordinator and setter of many events, bucket cooking coordinator, hash house, voice of experience
  • Rob Tucker, setter of bush events, Orienteering SA and National Parks liaison, voice of experience
  • Bruce Greenhalgh, Lead storyteller, setter, coordinator and meeting timekeeper
  • Ruth Ambrose, a friendly capable volunteer at many events, who makes many common-sense suggestions at meetings
  • Kevin Humphries, setting, bucket cooking and hash house logistics, spreadsheet guru, landholder liaison
  • Shanti Osborne – setting, website lead, getting changes done on the website!
  • Meredith Norman – setting, bringing a younger cultural perspective to our discussions, winning World Championships
  • Joe Milnes – bringing a younger cultural perspective to our discussions. Joe doesn’t say a lot, but what he does say is wise, thoughtful, practical, and

I have saved the (arguably) most important role to last:

  • Peter Milnes, Equipment Officer. As I have said before, Peter Milnes is the quiet achiever and superglue of ensuring rogaining events happen. Peter has an exceptional knowledge of all aspects of equipment from satellite phones to GPS units, trailer maintenance, tents, lights, first aid supplies, average consumption of cheese toasties per person per 24-hour event, tea, coffee, cordial and water consumption rates while taking temperature into account. He takes loving care of the famous orange and white controls (a welcome sight at 2am in the morning on a bush rogaine). He also has a thorough knowledge of many other aspects of rogaining such as risk, safety, search and rescue, and bush setting resulting from his many years involvement in rogaining and on the committee. Peter is planning an afternoon setting workshop in April that I commend to you.

It has been a privilege to again serve as President for the last year. While work and study commitments made it sometimes hard for me to feel up to date with all the association is involved in, the collective effort of the committee meant that behind the scenes things were ticking along nicely regardless. It has been a pleasure to be part of the SARA committee. After four years it is time for me to pass the baton on. I am grateful to Craig Colwell, Vice President, for stepping into the President role.

Thanks again to all members of the 2023 committee for their enthusiasm and hard work. Thanks also to all members of the rogaining community, for your ongoing support of our great sport.  See you out there!

Zara Soden, retiring SARA President
16 March 2024