Just days after Christmas, the Southern Highlands will play host to one of the biggest orienteering events in the state.
The Christmas Five Days Carnival is an annual event organised by Orienteering NSW, which is expected to feature as many as 300 participants.
Event organiser, Colin Price, said there will likely be a wide variety of demographics within those 300, including participants between the ages of five and 85, along with some who have restricted mobility.
"It's very inclusive, we cater to the different age groups, males, females, some people even get around with a walking stick," Price said.
"If you are slow, or unfit, or needing a hip, you can still do it. I don't see another sport that is so diverse, it's very inclusive. We have families turn up, so people that we run with, their children are running with them, and their children are also running. So that's three generations, it's just amazing."
Across the five days, the event will be primarily centred around Mittagong, with one of the days scheduled to take place in Campbelltown.
There are roughly 100 orienteers currently registered, but Price expects further entries to rush in as the event nears.
"The entries close next week," he said.
"People are leaving it to the last minute, and they're gun-shy. Even though borders are open, it's just harder to commit to going away.
"We fully expect the entries to roll in over the next few days, as we've been doing a lot of advertising internally."
Orienteering is a unique sport which requires participants to use a map and a compass to run courses in bush, parkland, or built-up areas such as university campuses.
They must follow the course as required, and will be timed as they do so. The more advanced or experienced the orienteer, the more complex the course they can attempt.
"There's different course lengths and difficulties," Price said.
"So if you're a beginner coming along, and you could be there for your first event, or your 500th, you have a start location and the courses are set, so depending on the difficulty that you choose, you go through a course to control one, then control two and so forth until you finish.
"There's about 11 different courses depending on difficulty."
The aptly-named Highlands provide an ideal location for orienteering, and Price believes the participants will enjoy what the new location has to offer.
"It's a unique event, in that it's five days in a row," he said.
"It's very low-key, and because it's summer, it's early in the morning traditionally. We have an area, it's called a suburban bush map. Then we have three bush maps, so you're actually in the national park, and then the last one is what we call a suburban event which is around a college.
"So it's a diverse range of orienteering, which is why it's so attractive to people."
With what Orienteering NSW hopes will be hundreds of visitors set to arrive in the Southern Highlands later this month, the event will also benefit local businesses.
As most of the events take place early in the morning, Price said many of the orienteers like to relax after they finish by finding somewhere to eat and do some shopping.
"There'll be a lot of people camping, Airbnb-ing, and filling up the motels in the area," he said.
"It is a pretty busy time, and everybody wants to get away."
The Christmas Five Days Carnival will take place from December 27 to December 31.
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