Chapter 3: Input from the UK - Pat Murray

Pat3 Pat Murray 371px Murray and his wife Pam migrated to WA from the UK in September 1972. Almost immediately, Pat found employment as a temporary lecturer at Mount Lawley Teachers College (MLTC). Murray’s experiences in orienteering in the UK were quite considerable. In 1964-65 Murray helped in the establishment of orienteering in the UK with club formation and mapping experience, orienteering at the SLOW (South London Orienteers and Wayfarers) Club. (1) When at MLTC in October 1972 he took a group of student teachers to Rottnest on their annual week’s camp at Kingstown Barracks. There he drew the first Orienteering map in WA so that the student teachers could experience orienteering. (2) After working at MLTC Murray went to work at Balga Senior High School.

Murray was listed as the WA contact for orienteering in the September 1973 Australian Orienteer. Later that year Tom Andrews wrote to Gary Aitken to say that he would replace Murray’s contact address with Aitken’s. (3) 

Murray joined the UWA Amateur Athletics Club (UAAC) and there met Gary Aitken and Eric Isaachsen.

When Aitken organised the first two public events at JFNP on the 18th of November and the 2nd of December 1973, members of the UAAC and Gary Aitken’s athletics training group participated along with the students. Isaachsen and Murray became instrumental in setting up orienteering in WA.

Murray’s experience in the UK enabled him to field-work maps at Somerville Pine Plantation (SPP) (the area is now called Piney Lakes in the suburbs of Winthrop and Bateman) and at McGillivray Oval. (1) The Weekend News depicted a photograph of Murray in an article largely written by Aitken designed to promote the fledgling sport. (4) The Somerville map was drawn from an orthophoto map from LSD. Aitken remembers: “It (the orthophoto map) had a couple of contour lines and a 1:5000 scale. They were good, you just traced the limestone roads and swamps and field-worked the old car bodies and you had a good black and white map!” (3)

Murray suggested night/evening events because summers in WA are quite hot during the day. (1) The night/evening events held on December 23rd 1973 and later on January 20th, February 17th, March 17th and 24th and April 21st 1974 were all score events. For those not familiar with orienteering, a score event is where orienteers have to collect as many controls as possible in a set amount of time. The controls have differing points value: the more difficult, farther controls having more points than easy to find controls that are found close in. The winner is the person with the most points. Orienteers would need a torch and compass to find their way in the dark and mark their score cards with identifying letters that were found on the buckets that were used as controls. Four of these events were held in Kings Park, one at McGillvray and the other on North Perth streets centred on Hyde Park. This event was mapped and organised by Pat Murray. Gary Aitken remembers the event well. He recalls running down an alley near Lake and Bulwer Streets in the early evening with map and compass in hand. Suddenly a police prowl car pulls up. The coppers wind down their windows and demand “What are you doing?” Without breaking stride, Aitken shoved the map under their noses, said “I’m doing orienteering and I haven’t got time to talk to you!” and ran on. Even in 1974 the competition was fierce! (3)

Murray’s orienteering activities were not restricted to the developing association. Whilst working at Bentley SHS, Murray used a street map of the area around Curtin University (Western Australian Institute of Technology or WAIT as it was then) to encourage students to do Bike Orienteering on the streets. He said “there wasn’t as much traffic as there is now, so it was fairly safe.” (2) This event would have been the first “Bike O” in WA. Pat recalls “I encouraged students to participate in pairs as it was their first event. It would provide the couples with support and assistance. I did not however envisage that the more enterprising students used this to their advantage – one pedalled bike whilst the better map reader navigated the team whilst being dinked by his partner. These were the days before risk assessments, and the overcautious eyes of high school heads”. (2)

In the same area, Murray field-worked the Collier Pine Plantation producing a workable black and white orienteering map. “There weren’t many features on the map so I dug lots of holes and pits”, he said. (2)

Murray’s family, wife Pam and children, and extended family, his five nephews in the Tidman family, would all be actively involved in orienteering in the first few years of the association. (2)

(1) Telephone interview with Pat Murray 11th December 2006
(2) Letter from Pat Murray 31st January 2006
(3) Tom Andrews, Letter written to Gary Aitken 4th October, 1973
(4) Eakins B. “It’s cunning stuff, this orienteering”, Weekend News, Saturday December 1, 1973. (p31)

Photo: Pat Murray in the Weekend News article in 1973. (4) Click on the photo to enlarge.