It takes a particular kind of person to excel in orienteering, a sport that combines map reading, and physical endurance.
But luckily for the Canberra Cockatoos, who are celebrating 25 years of success in the National Orienteering League, there are plenty of those people in Canberra, right near perfect terrain to hone their skills.
In the first 13 years of the league, which started in 1994, the Cockatoos won 12 team titles, including nine in a row. The men won 10 individual titles, including five successive titles by Rob Walter, while the women won eight individual titles, including four by Nicki Taws and three by Jo Allison.
Allison said orienteering in Canberra had always been marked by camaraderie and good sporting spirit, and the proximity to bush land certainly helped.
"It's always easy to meet somewhere in the city, to train somewhere out in the bush minutes from home," she said.
Allison, who won five titles between 1995, when she was 19, and 2017, has not been as active in the sport in recent years, but is the Oceania long distance champion, winning the title in 2017.
"I just love the sport. I loved that it's both a physical challenge and a technical challenge and also the great people involved," Allison said.
Bob Mouatt, who has been involved in orienteering in the ACT for close to 42 years, said Canberra was uniquely placed for orienteering.
He also pointed to Orienteering ACT's long held commitment to junior development, which had produced some of the region's best performers in the sport over the last 25 years.
Mouatt said the sport attracted people who were used to to solving problems and didn't mind being on their own.
"It takes a particular kind of person to cope with the demands of being in the bush and not having the faintest idea of where the hell you are," he said.
Rising stars of the Canberra Cockatoos include Tara Melhuish, who won the junior women division of the national league in 2017 and 2018.
The National Orienteering League starts in March, followed by another set of races over Easter, more events in May and August, and finals in September.