Violet kunzea (Kunzea parvifolia)

Sunday arvo 6 November 2022 * – S/E. A fun afternoon of map and compass theory and practice. Whether you’re a budding navigator or an interested beginner, there will be something for you. Even if you navigate digitally, it’s good to understand what it all means. Please book. Limit 4. If there’s a wait list, the afternoon will be repeated. Bring your baseplate compass and maybe a notebook. Be prepared for a 4km walk, 250vm climb on fire trails and footpads. Bring a snack and water.


No track record. We walked about 3km and 155vm.

Photographs Photographs are available here.
Track Notes

We met at the Callister Crescent entry to the Tuggeranong Hill Nature Reserve.

  • Saw the effect of mobile phone, car and metal gate on compass needle.

We walked to the bottom of the fire trail up the hill and handed out an A4 laminated section of the Tuggeranong 1:25000 topographic map.

  • Discussed questions that should be asked about such a map segment including source, age, datum, grid-magnetic angle, is it a useful representation of the paper map, are there eastings and northings specified on the segment, could the segment be used to give a geographic (lat/lon) location reference.
  • Visually oriented the map. Notes handed to participants included orienting using a compass.
  • Specified a 6-figure grid reference using eastings and northings.
  • Defined and found examples of contours, high points, spurs, gullies, ridges, saddles, a waterfall.
  • From the map, developed a rudimentary route card (what to expect) of the terrain of a walk to Tuggeranong Hill.

We walked up the fire trail to Tuggeranong Hill and the quadruped trig.

  • Practised setting magnetic bearings on compass and identifying nearby hills.
  • Talked about North points. Bushwalkers can forget about True North – Santa live there.
  • Converted between Grid and Magnetic bearings. GMS and MGA.
  • Practised converting Grid bearings to Magnetic bearings and identifying more hills and features.
  • Talked about ‘about’ bearings and horizontal deviation.
  • Reviewed and practised the technique to measure a Grid bearing on a map, convert it to a Magnetic bearing, set the bearing on the compass and identify the feature.
  • Reviewed and practised the technique to measure a Magnetic bearing with the compass, convert it to a Grid bearing and plot it on the map.
  • Discussed in a bit more detail the creation of a route card, but ran out of time to implement it.

We walked back down the hill via a little detour down a gully where I took the above photo. Having decided to get back into plants a little, I tried to identify it via a Google photo search. It returned two possibilities. Put the photo on the ACT Native Flora FaceBook page and quickly received the answer. Thanks folks! Also was reminded to use Canberra Nature Map.

I was stoked when the participants arranged between themselves to continue their map and compass practise on another group outing they would organise.

There’s a lot to take in. I remember my first exposure to map and compass work in 2004 and there seemed so much detail to practise. I emailed detailed notes to the participants.


4 participants. Joe C, Elizabeth C, Paula F, me.

Participant Review

“John led a map and compass review at Tuggeranong Hill. It was a great afternoon learning the basics of how to orient the map and identify key landscape features. Learning how to read the contour lines on a map to understand the upcoming terrain and find suitable paths to navigate was really useful. John also explained bearings and how to use the compass to identify the direction to walk in to move between two points. Overall it was a great afternoon, with lots of practical skills and the rain even held off until after we were back.”


If anyone likes the look of this and would like to spend a couple of hours on it, give me a hoy. I’d be happy to get another group of 3 or 4 together to do it again.

Information Bit(e)s

I’ve had a lot of assistance from walking friends recently. By way of paying a bit back, I’ll publish a few bites of information that may help someone. Today’s is ‘6 Convert between Magnetic and Grid Bearings‘.