The Bare Creek Trail Run is a community running event that takes place in the picturesque Garigal National Park at St Ives, NSW. The start and finish point is Acron Oval located on the western border of the park. The courses available to runners were 2km, 6km, 12km and 20 km.
While such an event is a Mecca for the running community, it is a challenge for a squad like ours to provide a blanket coverage two-way radio network. We also get to practice other skills and competencies like planning a communications network, map reading and navigation, Operate Communications Equipment and Drive Operational Vehicles.
Being our first time covering this course, we utilise radio signal path propagation prediction software to assist us with the planning of our network. In this park, there are areas where tracks are on high ground. They are also down at creek level. UHF had plenty of holes whereas VHF-Hi Band suggested blanket coverage for the entire park based on the nominated repeater site – assuming the use of a single hop system. No problems, VHF-Hi band it is. The Forward Command post was the Sydney 4WD to keep things simple.
Not too much to prepare though. Again for a first time, determining some waypoints to punch into the trusty Garmin 12XL GPS is always handy and prevents fumbling around on the day. These are simply track intersections along with instructions “veer left”, “turn right”, etc. Given modern day technology, the Garmin 12XL of 2005 still holds its own even though it is a miniature 386 computer.
If there is one aspect of the event that is unattractive, it is the start time of 0430 Hours. Logistics dictate for those of us coming from a little further a field to leave the evening before and bunk down on site to maximise the amount of sleep and hence reduce fatigue for the upcoming day.
For those of us driving operational vehicles within the park proper, off-road driving skills also got some practice. Some areas are a little rocky, a bit of mud here and there owing to recent rain and a number of table drains to assist with drainage. Early in the piece, the decision was made to remove the towbar extension from the back of the troop carrier having hung over on a rock. There was also a creek crossing at the bottom of Lower Cambourne Track which in places is about knee deep – some places less, others more.
There were a small number of minor injuries due to the slips/trips/falls nature of such an event. It highlights the importance of having a good communications system in order to summon assistance for these.