Joining a Navigation Training Weekend

A 2-day hike in the Wollangambe Wilderness to Learn Map and Compass Skills


Led by Ashley Burke

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About the Navigation Weekend

Aims and Objectives

What To Bring

Past Trip Reports and Photos

Level of Difficulty

Cost and How to Apply

Upcoming Trips



About the Navigation Weekend

The navigation weekend is a 2-day self-supported bushwalk that starts and ends at the tiny village of Bell, east of Lithgow and north of Mt Victoria in the upper Blue Mountains. The trip normally starts on a Saturday morning and ends on a Sunday afternoon. On this bushwalk you will learn how to read a topographic map and how to use a compass, and you will put these techniques into practise in a real off-track wilderness environment to navigate by following natural landscape features and correlating these with the map. You will use these skills to locate our Saturday night campsite, a huge rock overhang set amongst a labyrinth of small and delicate sandstone formations. Whilst the primary objective of the weekend is educational, it is also a great opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and experience a wild and undeveloped environment, a beautiful sandstone landscape, and to enjoy an evening and night of camping away from it all.

Aims and Objectives

The aims of the weekend are:



What To Bring

Being a self-supported bushwalk, idea is that everyone brings their own gear and food for the weekend. Click the button below to review the gear list for this trip.

If you don’t have some of the items on this list, I have a limited supply of gear that I can lend you, or alternatively some items such as tents and cooking equipment can be shared.

Past Trip Reports and Photos

To give you a better idea of what the trip involves, you can read trip reports of past trips and also view some photos of past navigation weekends in the same area. Here are links to the trip reports and photos from previous navigation weekends:

2006 navigation weekend trip report

2007 navigation weekend trip report

2008 navigation weekend trip report

2009 navigation weekend trip report

2010 navigation weekend trip report

2011 navigation weekend trip report and photos

2012 navigation weekend trip report

2013 navigation weekend trip report and photos

2014 navigation weekend trip report

2015 navigation weekend trip report

2016 navigation weekend trip report

2017 navigation weekend trip report and photos

2018 SUBW navigation weekend trip report and photos

25-26 August 2018 navigation weekend photos

20-21 October 2018 navigation weekend photos

2-3 March 2019 navigation weekend photos

16-17 March 2019 navigation weekend photos

6-7 April 2019 navigation weekend photos

4-5 May 2019 navigation weekend photos

29-30 June 2019 navigation weekend photos


Sample photos of what we do on most navigation weekends are here.


Level of Difficulty

This trip is open to beginners with no previous bushwalking or navigation experience. However a minimum fitness level is required. Because we will be camping overnight, you need to be able to walk with a backpack containing your camping gear, food, some water and weighing around 12kg. To help you learn navigation skills, you will at times be walking through bush where there is no track. There are areas of scrub and a few steep hills. In some places the scrub is thick and difficult to walk through. There are 2 river crossings which involve steep descents into and out of a river gorge. The vegetation around the rivers is dense. There is the occasional rock scramble. However this steep and difficult terrain is the exception not the rule. The difference between the highest elevation and lowest elevation on the walk is about 200m. Most of the country is open bushland that can be walked normally. There is steady climbing and descending. The ground is uneven and bushy most of the time. It is not a walk along a track, it is walking through the bush – literally! We will be stopping frequently to gain map reading and compass skills so there will be plenty of time to rest on the way. I estimate that we may be walking 4-6 hours per day with our packs. The trip should be no problem for anyone that does regular exercise. It is graded an easy overnight walk.

I should warn that some people who have not had much previous experience have in the past reported that they found this walk difficult. I think that provided you do regular exercise you should be fine. By exercise I mean something that causes you to sweat and become out of breath. By regular I mean a couple of times per week.

Cost and How To Apply

The size of the group will be capped at 10 clients, and the trip will not proceed unless a minimum number of 5 clients sign up.

The cost of the trip is $150 per person.

To which you may optionally add:

Wollangambe topographic map $18
Compass At cost, depends on model ordered

If you'd like to come on this trip, please complete an Applicant Information Form:

When I receive your application, I will review it and then contact you. I will send you bank account details, you can make a deposit, and then your place on the trip is confirmed. You will then receive a full information pack containing everything you need to know to prepare for and attend the weekend.

Upcoming Trips

Navigation training weekends are currently scheduled for:

25-26 Aug 2018 COMPLETED! See the photos
20-21 Oct 2018 COMPLETED! See the photos
2-3 Mar 2019 COMPLETED! See the photos
16-17 Mar 2019 COMPLETED! (Despite the rain!) See the photos
6-7 Apr 2019 COMPLETED! See the photos
4-5 May 2019 COMPLETED! See the photos
29-30 Jun 2019 COMPLETED! See the photos
19-20 Oct 2019 PLENTY OF PLACES AVAILABLE. Apply now!
Other dates in 2019 Contact me for scheduling.



One of the rewards of running these navigation weekends is the opportunity to meet new people and by sharing some of the skills of navigation, to help those people feel more confident in a environment untamed by human infrastructure.Below I share some of the feedback that they have kindly provided and agreed to have published on this website.

"I was so pleased that I decided to come along. I found it extremely useful and it will certainly give me some skills that I can practice and develop on my own. Ashley had a beautiful teaching style; he was patient, attentive and above all, not condescending, no matter the amount of compass bumbling I was doing. The walk was challenging, I had never walked off-track before, walking through the scrub is certainly more demanding than on-trail walking. Having said that, it was well within my physical capabilities, even though I had been unwell leading up to it and still wasn't totally on top of my game for the navigation weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed the landscape that we moved through, the scenery was spectacular. I think that the addition of a little laminated 'cheat sheet' card with basic directions for each compass skill would be useful, sort of like writing out a mathematical procedure. This is something my workplace does for new equipment, calculations or procedures and I find them a useful tool to refer to the card until I move toward complete confidence with new knowledge and can do the task without even really needing to think about the 'how to' of my actions. The campsite was fabulous, utterly beautiful. A very special night away. The value for money was wonderful. I browsed a lot of courses before deciding to book with Ashley. Most were simply outrageously priced and seemed very impersonal. It was obvious from looking at Ashley's website that he had a genuine love of what he does and a desire to share his knowledge with others. Having the free online learning package was extremely useful, a very generous offering from Ashley. Making that course available at no cost to all speaks volumes about the sort of person he is and the effort he puts in to ensuring a positive trip for all."

- Jules 5-6 May 2018

"I have just completed Ashleys weekend Navigation Hike, and it was a 5 star experience! Everything from Ashleys pre trip information, to his patient, calm, clear explanations of map reading and taking compass bearings, aswell as his good natured and supportive leading of the trip, was done without fault. If you are interested in gaining skills in understanding better how to navigate using topographic maps and compass, plus see some stunning country along the way, I would HIGHLY recommend his course."

- Tony Maynard 5-6 May 2018.

"This is an excellent course for bushwalkers who want to learn about proper compass use and improve map-reading skills. It will also help you to get more comfortable with going off-track, and camping out in the wilderness. Ashley's teaching skills are fantastic: clear, patient, giving hands-on practice, with back-up written resources."

- Ruth 10-11 Mar 2018

"Ashley is an easy and natural leader very patient with even the dumbest questions. He took us to the most amazing campsite that I would never have found. Can't wait for the next one."

- Jennifer 10-11 Mar 2018

"Ashley's navigation skills bush walking weekend is well worth it. You can learn the necessary skills to navigate and learn to understand the terrain on maps to choose the best course - all in one weekend. The bonus is you get to do it in the Wollongambe Wilderness. It is pristine and the overnight campsite and some of the sights are outstanding."

- Bluebone 10-11 Mar 2018

"The weekend was really well organised and the teaching materials well thought out and clear. "

- Polly, 10-11 Mar 2018

"The navigation weekend was like dipping my toes in the water - an invitation to dive in! I have a strong desire to get out into the quiet of nature and remove myself from the noise of modern life. I’m far from competent to venture out on my own, but this navigation training weekend has provided me the environment to gain basic skills to start my journey. Ashley brings himself to these weekends; he leads from a strong platform of experience and a genuine desire to teach others how to learn the language of the land and to interpret a map. The weekends are well organised, down to earth and educational. If you are genuinely interested in learning how to navigate your way around the bush, I would highly recommend these skill building weekend."

- Sue, 10-11 Mar 2018

"The weekend was well prepared, the lead up information was exceptional. Whilst this was educational, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and walking in the remote areas. Great weekend with a great leader. Would highly recommend."

- Jason, 10-11 Mar 2018

"Ashley is a competent and thoughtful leader and teacher, although I'm not confident enough to head out on my own I did learn a quite a bit from the trip that was set in a beautiful part of the Blue Mountains."

- Gerard, 25-26 Aug 2018

"A great experience and some beautiful country. I learned so much and have some really practical and useful navigation skills. Thanks Ashley for organising and running the trip, it was thoroughly enjoyable."

- Mark, 5-6 May 2018

"It was a fantastic learning experience, and I would like to do something like it again. I know that I found some of the rock climbing difficult, but with Ashley's, it was definitely doable. The only way to build skills is to practise them. Ashley is without a doubt a 'natural born' teacher. He gave everyone the opportunity to lead, and the confidence to succeed. Thanks for an absolutely wonderful weekend."

- Sharon, 20-21 Oct 2018

"Ashley is a wealth of knowledge and a natural communicator and teacher. After the weekend course I felt like an eye mask was removed and I could see a whole new world of hiking possibilities. I can't recommend the course highly enough. The immense learning aside, it was a pleasure to spend a weekend in such a beautiful part of the world with like minded people."

- Marcus Peterson, 20-21 Oct 2018

"I enjoyed the navigation training weekend immensely. A big thanks to Ashley for sharing his passion and expertise in the great outdoors and his intimate knowledge of the Wollangambe. His patience, calmness and informative tutorials were confidence building. Now I have a greater appreciation and understanding of topographical maps and some practical skills in using them along with the compass. It was also a great team building exercise. Inspired to get out and keep practicing!"

- Jude, 20-21 Oct 2018

"Great trip - I learned lots and had a great time. I felt confident throughout that Ashley knew what he was doing, and I could relax and trust to his skill, knowledge and care for the group. Rugged, beautiful country."

- Rosemary, 20-21 Oct 2018

"I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend navigational course in the Blue Mountains with Ashley. He is a gifted teacher showing patience and with great skills he is eager to pass on. He is obviously very experienced in the area and I always confident about where we were and where we were headed. His organisation was excellent (the wine. cheese and fruit platter was quite the surprise, I don't know how he carried it all) and he kept us up to date with plans and requirements for the trip. I did find the terrain more challenging than I expected at a couple of points and I think a good level of fitness and some restraint in packing are key to enjoying the weekend. I wholeheartedly recommend Ashley and the navigation weekend to anyone looking to gain off-track navigation skills or even just feel more confident when undertaking bush activities."

- Mitchell, 2-3 Mar 2019

"Thank you so much Ashley for an amazing weekend, for your patience, for all the knowledge shared, for the photos, the hot cuppas and for leaving us all better equipped to plan for adverse conditions and navigate. I loved that it rained, and our campsite, and the landscape, and I could go on and on! 

Both the hike and the group exceeded all my expectations and wlll definitely be recommending this to all my friends ��

Hope I get to see everyone again out in the bush soon!"

- Salma, 16-17 Mar 2019

"After just completing this navigational weekend I can highly recommend it! Ashley is patient, knowledgeable and organised. The landscape was beautiful. I cant wait to get out and start practicing everything Ashley taught me!�� �� ��"

- Tracey, 4-5 May 2019

"It was amazing, I learnt so much and everyone I met was very nice and pleasant to be around. The environment was perfect for what we were learning and the hike was challenging but in the way all hikes should be. It was fun and educational and very well planned :)"

- Lily (age 15), 4-5 May 2019

"This was my second time coming along on one of MountainSphere Adventure's Navigation weekends. I learned so much the first weekend and thoroughly enjoyed myself, I thought that navigation is a continuous process of learning so decided to come along again on another navigation weekend to practice what I learned last time, under Ashley's expert eye. I am so glad I chose to do the course for a second time, as I found that I had stored some knowledge and could more seamlessly perform the exercises we were doing and was looking forward to my turn to lead. I found being able to confidently navigate off-track during the weekend so utterly exciting- it was great fun and I couldn't stop smiling! I am thankful for Ashley's guidance and leadership, he is such a knowledgeable individual yet has such a humble, approachable way about him , making the educational interaction relaxed and friendly. The walking was on interesting terrain and the scenery utterly beautiful. The rock scrambling and river crossings were very enjoyable, I felt like a kid let loose on a jungle gym, it was such a lot of fun. I will definitely go on another trip with MountainSphere Adventures and highly recommend Ashley to anyone seeking to learn or improve their navigation skills."

- Jules, returning for her second navigation weekend, 29-30 June 2019

"Ashley is an incredible person with amazing navigation and teaching skills. You will learn the real navigation (use of map, compass) in any type of environment - trail, fire trail, bush bushing while having lots of fun in great group surrounded by breathtaking nature. I definitely recommend to do the navigation course if you really want to learn the skills."

- Lenka 29-30 June 2019



Web page created 10 Feb 2018, last updated 02 Jul 2019.

All content copyright © Ashley Burke 2018. Not to be copied, duplicated or used for any purpose without permission.

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