SOME of the country's best orienteers will meet on Southern Downs soil next year, when the local terrain is used for the three-day Australian championships.
Orienteering Queensland development officer Liz Bourne, who lives at Stanthorpe, said the Pratten area would be used for one of the courses.
"The championships will be based in Stanthorpe and there will be people swirling through the region all the time as well," she said.
"The granite terrain is nationally famous, so orienteers are very aware of the district and happy to come back."
The last national event held in the region was the Asia Pacific Orienteering Championships, held in July 2000.
When the championships come around in Easter, including a four-day prologue event, Bourne said she expected about 700 competitors to visit the region.
"The sort of thing that influences how many people turn up is petrol pricing because a lot drive to events," she said.
"The other thing is the school holidays, they're all over the place.
" I doubt any of the states coincide, and that influences who can get away."
A lot of the entrants will be local orienteers, with many of the local students expected to test their skills.
Non-competitive orienteers are also invited to the event, either as individuals, groups or families.
Bourne said she expected to see former Warwick champion orienteer Lilian Burrill enter the championships.
"Lilian's currently studying in Brisbane but I'd imagine she'd be joining her family," she said.
"She's certainly our best local star - she's represented Australia at three junior world championships. Her younger sister Alison is working through the ranks and her younger brother Simian is doing well too.
"I think they'll feel comfortable in their home terrain."
All local entrants will be given a head start over visitors, thanks to their familiarity with the local area.
Bourne said granite terrain could be "quite complex" when looking at a map.
"For some people, when they first hit granite, they're baffled - they can't work out which is on the map and which isn't," she said.
"Fitness and map reading are probably equally important in orienteering, but the more complex the terrain, the more it influences the better navigators."
The championships will all be recorded via a computer chip and the results uploaded onto the internet within hours.
People can enter in their categories, which are split between ages and gender.
Parents are permitted to follow around their children in the under 10 categories while they navigate their way around the maps.
Bourne said orienteers were a mixture of mainly professional people, ranging in ages from under 10s to over 85-year-olds.
"We get a lot of teachers and public servants who just like the challenge of using their brain as well as their legs," she said.
"The sport's open to anyone though."
More at www.easter2012.com.au.