The Southern Highlands region contains some of the best orienteering country in NSW. Yet it wasn't until 1986, when ex-Waggaroos, the Davis family, moved into the area that a club was finally formed. On 9 August of that year a meeting was held at the Surveyor General Inn in Berrima, where interested locals and representatives of OANSW discussed the possibility of forming a club.
Within two weeks, on 19 August, the first real meeting of the yet unnamed club was held. At this meeting a simple constitution was discussed and office bearers were elected until the end of 1987.
The following month saw the club's first minor event held at Belanglo Creek. A small roll-up did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the club's few members and they decided to press on.
The club name was decided upon late in 1986. The final choice was between Mittagong Occasional Orienteers (MOO), with a cow as the symbol and Southern Highlands Occasional Orienteers (SHOO) with the now familiar jogging shoe as the symbol. In the end the choice was quite simple - who wants to orienteer like a cow?
As the Davis' were the only experienced orienteers in the club, almost all club events in 1987 were organised by that family. By 1988, though, other members were deeply involved and the load on the Davis family lessened. By this stage two more ex-Waggaroos. Sandra Stewart (Giles) and Mal Hughes, had moved into the area, bolstering the experience of the club.
1988 also saw SHOO's first NSW OY event - the Southern Highlands Championships held at Penrose (Burnt Cottage Ridge). Guest setter, Bruce Graham, and controller, Dave Lotty, ensured a measure of success for the event which has since been run almost exclusively by SHOO.
1989 proved to be a year of innovation for SHOO. A within-club OY competition was begun. The awards (both junior and senior) were produced by the President using his first orienteering shoe and son, Michael's, first O shoe (he was 2 years old at the time). The Golden SHOO and the Little Golden SHOO have been popular prizes ever since. Inaugural winners were Neil Gannon and Michael Davis.
SHOO have always tried to spread the good news about orienteering. Come and try it events have been regularly organised. Two such events are somewhat unique. The Berrima and District Vintage Car Club and the Berrima and District Pony Club have both utilised our expertise in organising O courses for their clubs. While the former group were reluctant to drive their precious vehicles into the bush and decided on a more traditional on-foot approach, the latter club embarked on Equine-0 courses, using tracks to complete courses of various lengths on horse back.
1989 also saw the introduction of the club's distinctive yellow and blue track suits, along with the woven club badge. We believe this innovation inspired other NSW clubs to take more pride in their club uniform and logo.
As the club continued to grow, so did our enthusiasm. In an effort to bolster club funds (we'd been running on a balance of less than $100 for 2 years!) and to broaden our experience in organising 'major' events, SHOO introduced the Surveyor General Inn Championships in February 1990. This event has continued to be part of the NSW calendar, though 1994 will see a name change to the Soft Shoo Shuffle (due to loss of sponsorship by the Surveyor General Inn).
Later that year SHOO revitalised the Tulip Time Twelve Fun Run, though a packed calendar necessitated a change of date and name to the Bowral Ten. Support for this event has grown slowly since and it has become a permanent part of the club calendar.
The crowning glory for our young club came in 1991 when Michael Davis became our first Australian representative by being chosen in the team to tour New Zealand in May of that year. He has since become a member of the National Junior Squad and looks to be headed for bigger and better things.
In 1992 SHOO organised its first state championships when it conducted the NSW Night and Relay Championships. We followed that a year later with the NSW Schools Championships. 1996 sees our biggest challenge yet when, on our 10th birthday, we will conduct the NSW Championships. 1993 also saw the introduction of a female version of the Golden Shoo, appropriately named The Golden Slipper award.
SHOO has always been a family oriented club. Very few of our members have competed in M21 or W21, and most of our adults opt for the short courses. Our strength lies in our juniors who have gained many places in championship events. Glenn, Shannon and Ian Meyer, Wendy and Cathy Stimson, and Michael, Deanna and Geoffrey Davis have all proven their skill in state level events. And now young David Meyer is threatening to eclipse most of them with his efforts.
Being a club full of teachers and students, schools orienteering has played a major role in our club's development. Members of SHOO instigated the Metropolitan South West Regional Schools Orienteering Gala Day in 1990. With assistance from OANSW, members of SHOO and Scrubrunners have kept this Gala Day going ever since. In 1993 this event attracted 375 entries!
Good quality maps have never been a problem for SHOO, centred as we are in such a wonderful area for orienteering. Many maps were readily available from OANSW and other clubs. The club now owns three maps - Boxvale Tramway (first used for the Australian Family Relays in 1988), The Gib (a small map between Mittagong and Bowral) and Stingray Swamp (a re-map of Penrose State Forest).
As with any O club, SHOO has a number of personalities, some of whom are known Australia wide.
Dr SHOO - Jan Eriksson (now Hure) became widely known for her medical skills at events and for her production of orienteering first-aid kits. She could also be seen after events clinging tightly to the hand of Steve Hure (they're married now so that's all right).
John 'Sprocket' Springet - Puffing Billy had nothing on John. He's the only orienteer I know who puts out a cigarette as he enters the start grid, and lights up again even before he has a drink at the end. John is a solid worker both for SHOO and OANSW. Since taking over as treasurer for SHOO our balance has increased at least tenfold.
Rob 'I'll sleep in the car' Prentice - Rob doesn't believe in tents, cabins, vans, hotels, motels or any other form of accommodation. He nearly always sleeps in the back of his station wagon, wherever he stops. His wildest venue for rest was a graveyard during an event in the Mudgee area in 1993! Rob works hard for the club in a variety of ways and his enthusiasm inspires us all.
Chris 'I only mucked up one control' Stimson - If Chris could spike all controls just once he'd win easily. Unfortunately he's still waiting to do so. Chris is a club stalwart who has served as vice-president of the club for many years.
Sandra 'I'm not running last' Stewart - our other vice-president, Sandra used to like running last in relays but got fed up with finishing after everyone had packed up and gone home! These days she makes husband Garry go last instead!
Sue 'SOO for SHOO' Davis - at times newsletter editor and one of the backbones of the club. Sue is always there when a job needs to be done and is the one who keeps President Paul on his toes.
Paul 'I only walked, honest' Davis - this is Paul's standard comment after an event, even if he gains a place. Some people don't believe him but I can assure you it really is true. Paul has been known to spend time searching for his gaiter only to find it already on his leg! Club president since inception, Paul took on the extra Australia-New Zealand Challenge team three times (a record?) in 1990, 1991 and 1993, and has been deeply involved in every major event the club has organised.
John 'Mr Fun Run' Russell - the moving force behind the Bowral Ten Fun Run which has been part of our club calendar since 1990. He is also known within the club for never quite putting it together in the big events. Maybe one day...
Peter 'I hate two-day events' Meyer - Peter has a real hate of multi-day events - he probably does what many of us do and bombs out on one day. Peter's tribe of kids makes up a major part of our club - there seem to be so many of them! Peter has been a committee member and state delegate for the club almost since he paid his fist club fees.
Southern Highlands Occasional Orienteers (SHOO) is a growing club which has the benefit of having some of orienteering's best country right in the backyard. It is a small club with big ideas and a membership keen to see the club expand and progress.