This is our Bel-Air map which will be used for the Feb 21 event. It is typical of our urban street maps. Note there are no street names. Orienteering maps do not show names of streets, creeks, hills or localities. It's all about navigation.
You know where you are at the Start (red triangle), but once you head off on your course you must keep track of your movements. Left turns, right turns. Are you at cross-roads or a T junction, etc. So fold your map to make it convenient to hold in one hand and try to keep your thumb close to where you are on the map. Keep checking to ensure what you see around you conforms with the map. A few seconds spent verifying your position can save minutes heading off in the wrong direction.
The top of the map points to magnetic north. The parallel blue lines running from top to bottom on all our maps are to help you align your compass for navigation. It is a useful feature on our bush maps but has no value on urban maps as you don't need a compass. Don't forget that running a course in the late afternoon means the Sun will be in the West. Also Ploughmans Creek runs pretty close to north/south.
The olive green areas are private property, residential housing. The brown contour lines are again of little use in most street orienteering but with a little practice you can tell if you should be heading up hill or down, and that adds to your confidence in navigation. The darker yellow areas represent mown grass.
Anything in black represents something man made, buildings, park seats, etc. Note that there are many cul-de-sacs (no through roads) on this map - for cars, that is. But look closely and you can see there are also many footpaths connecting them. These are very useful for getting to your next control quickly.
Now, a few words about map scale. Our maps are generally scaled at 1:10,000, it works well in most cases. This map area is a little smaller than usual and is scaled at 1:7,500, which fits the page better. On this map 1cm equals 75m on the ground. Notice at the bottom of the map is a scale bar representing 500m. It is exactly the distance between the vertical blue lines (used for compass alignment). When out on your course, or planning before you start, you now have a handy distance guide. The horizontal distance between two blue lines anywhere on the map is 500m.
If you are new to orienteering you can treat the event as an adventure. Once you make progress with your navigation you can enjoy the satisfaction of saying - "I know where I am and I know where I am going"!
The question then is: "Can I do it quicker?".