Friday, April 10, 2015

Stanthorpe QLD 2015

As Queensland prepared to host their first mega event it was a good chance for the Gangsters to get together for another road trip. As with previous mega events the Gangsters head away a few weeks beforehand to find all the local caches so we could enjoy a relaxing mega event with our families. 

Heading to Stanthorpe a few weeks before the event we were blessed with clear skies and a warming country lifestyle. The Gangsters had 4 days in the Granite Belt finding over 400 caches which littered the area. A number of powertrails dotted the countryside in anticipation of the hordes of geocachers that would ascend on the area over Easter. For us, we flew into Brisbane where we collecting a hire and started heading west. Our first night was at the noisy Cunningham Gap. Our next day had us in the thick of the powertrails finding over 240 caches along various road tracks and over some beautiful rural areas. We had another under stars while enjoying a campfire and a few drinks. Sunday saw us doing much of the same however we’d ventured closer to civilisation with us stopping the night in the local caravan park of Stanthorpe where we enjoyed a nice warm shower and the relaxed atmosphere of a nice pub meal. Our 4 days was quickly coming to an end but not before we found a few more caches as we headed for Brisbane…. Our again the Gangsters had shared a memorable road trip. 

As Easter approached we were disappointed to learn that steeba wouldn’t be joining us at the mega due to the pending birth of the 4th child. For the rest of us the weather prediction didn’t sound great but that wouldn’t deter us, we were keen for some time away with our families. Arriving in Stanthorpe on Easter Friday we were barely setup when the heavens opened up setting the tone for the rest of the weekend. I’d packed a huge tarp which allowed us to have a good amount of dry covered area for the kids to run around. Over the course of the weekend we intentionally didn’t do much caching, choosing to focus more on the fun activities organised as well as visiting some of the local attractions, one of which being the guard dog training facility where dogs are trained in the finer points of security and attack work. Throughout the weekend we attended the 3 other events organised around town and found some of the more unique types of hides available at a mega. The mini-rats did exceptionally well in this department finding a credible 10 cache types in the one day. Another highlight for us was the night-time entertainment and the very social atmosphere (despite the weather) of a great mega-event and to see many of our caching friends from around Australia was an added bonus. 

Unfortunately by Monday it was time to pack up and start the long trek home. Except for Leonie, who had to be back at work by Tuesday the rest of us took a leisurely 3-day road trip down the coast to get home.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Caching around Oz

I was under strict instructions that our holiday around Oz wasn’t to be all to do with caching and I was happy with that. Setting off on our 6 month trip I thought if we found 20-25 caches a week I’d be happy with that, I was more interested in using the trip to highlight some of the great hidden spots that mostly go undiscovered if it wasn’t for geocaching or finding the unique cache types that I don’t regularly get to find around home. So wherever possible we would go out of our way to find an earthcache, a virtual cache or the odd webcam.

On many occasion we took advantage of the plethora of highway caches that litter Australia as a way of breaking up a long day in the car or the need for a wee stop. If we spent a few days in a town we’d often look at the number of favourite points added to caches to determine the better ones to seek out.

In a few locations around Oz I submitted new earthcaches based on unique features that we’d seen, we hosted a “meet n greet” event in Perth as a way of getting to know other geocachers, I tagged along on a Roymerc day in Denmark and stopped by our own virtual cache in SA.

By the time we’d gotten home I’d amassed an impressive 900+ finds, 53 earthcaches, 19 letterbox caches, 13 virtual caches, 6 wherigo caches and attended 2 events. I’m pretty with these stats considering we drove 31,000km in 6 months.

Monday, June 02, 2014

10000 finds

Back in January 2002 when geocaching was nothing more than an underworld, never talked about, geek’s game, The Rats (that’s us) found our very first cache some 30km north of Wollongong. From those early days when we were called SES Rats and our first find was at Trainspotting GCDFF with 2 of my SES friends we’ve since dropped the SES part and have made geocaching a real family sport to the point where many of our family activities are organised around geocaching.

In finding our 10000th find I look back and reflect on what the sport of geocaching has done for me and my family. The places we have been and sights that we would most likely not have ever known about has been truly amazing. Similarly, the like-minded people we have met and the friendships that have been forged as a result of geocaching is priceless. I recall turning up to an event thinking “I’m way outside my comfort zone as I don’t know anyone here” but within minutes we were made feel welcome and started chatting about the same common goals.

There have been 10000 memorable moments, but not that I can remember the detail of every one of them. There are some moments that stick with you forever like our
  • Our milestone finds are a special time for us.
  • The long bushwalks in search of a cache in some remote wilderness location.
  • The unique and challenging caching containers we’ve found
  • The many road trips with mates around Australia and overseas in search of caches
  • The record breaking 24hr caching run around Adelaide
  • The not so enjoyable time when we tried to out-run the Police
  • The challenge of caching in the city.
  • Finding 1000 finds in 4 days
  • Testing my personal skills and capability in an attempt to find a cache, and
  • Some of the great caching events we’ve attended along the way.
In the context of geocaching 10000 finds is just another number, sure its a lot of finds and many geocachers will never achieve that in a lifetime but for us it all about the fun we have along the way and I look forward to the next 10000 finds.In celebrating this milestone I’d like to thank those who attended our 10k picnic I couldn’t think of a better way to bring our 10000th find. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

What a year - 2013

It’s a logical progression that as the popularity of geocaching increases then so will people’s caching statistics. 2013 has been a huge statistical year for “The Rats”. I’ve highlighted a few of the more amazing ones.

·         2233 finds for the calendar year.
·         An average of 6.1 finds per day.
·         Increased my best find day to 325 finds.
·         Increased my best month to 1049 finds.
·         Increased my caching streak to 130 days.
·         Found my fastest 1000 caches – 5 days.
·         2 consecutive days of over 300 finds each day.
·         3 trips away with the Gangsters.
·         Found Australia’s highest cache
·         Placed our 100th hide.
·         Hosted 2 events and attended 12 events.
·         Found 281 Mystery caches

Many of these stats can be attributed to a 5 day caching spree around South Australia with the Gangsters. I’m not sure these stats will ever be achieved again by us but in saying that, that’s like waving a red flag to a bull.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Pigeon's are Calling

No one likes doing maintenance on their caches, but it’s a necessary evil. The thought that someone has intentionally trashed (muggled) your cache can be heartbreaking and that feeling swept through me when I’d heard of a few DNF’s on one of my remote caches, but the thought of a bushwalk to the top of Pigeon House Mt certainly put a smile back on my face. Pigeon House Mountain is located in the Morton National Park, it’s a 35km drive west of Ulladulla, the last 14km being dirt road which generally in good condition.
It’d been a few years since I’d walked out here and I hoped recent bushfires in the area hadn’t spoilt the vista. Arriving in the carpark I was pleased to see new facilities and amenities had been provided. There was only one other car in the carpark so I was pretty sure I’d have a nice peaceful walk. A sign at the start of the walk confirmed my cache notes that this is a hard walk of approximately 3-4hrs and a change in elevation of 450m.

There is no easing into this walk, straight out of the blocks you head up a very steep section. For me this took approx’ 30min but I’m pretty fit and I know others will take it a little easier than I did. Once at the top of this section you get your first glimpse of your goal. After a refreshing break I continued on along the easiest part of the walk. For about 10-15min you traverse the level plateau through heavily wooded areas where the serenity of the area was broken by the various birds calling. Slowly the track starts to rise up as you being your assault of the cone shaped land mass. Well-constructed timber steps and a good path make the job easier but once again you can really feel your heart beating as climb to the base of the rock pinnacle.

It was on this steep slope that I came across the occupants of the other car, these people had obviously made an early start to the day as they were already making their way back to the car. After a quick chat I kept going knowing that I now had the place to myself. I soon arrived at the first set of ladders and a realisation that I was nearly at the top. There are probably 8 sets of steep steps and 2 ladders to negotiate, all of which are very secure and safe. Once on top there is a short walk around to the trig and a fenced lookout and the beauty of this place can be realised.

From the trig the view in a westerly direction is fantastic. The wilderness area of Morton National Park, The Castle and Yadboro Flat are all before you. In the distance evidence of the recent fires could easily be seen. To the east, the coastal towns of Ulladulla, Milton and Burril can easily be seen. After plenty of photos I set about replacing my muggled cache. I wondered how a cache so remote could be muggled twice in 6 months but this area is too nice not to share with my fellow geocachers so a new container was placed in a slightly different spot.

With my caching duties complete and some more photos taken it was time to head back. The ladders seemed a little daunting as you look down on them but they are no problem if you take your time. The up slopes were now the down slopes and its often said its harder on the knees going down and I have to say that was the case for me this time and as always the return journey always feels quicker. I was soon down the cone slope and moving freely along the plateau when I had an encounter with the wildlife. A one metre goanna and I wanted to share the same pathway. Luckily he saw who was the boss and soon moved to the side allowing me to pass. Taking in one final glimpse of my achievement I headed down the steep slope and back to the car.

Goanna clinging to tree
My hike had taken me 2hr 20min which included a 30min rest on top. Those who are considering this walk should easily allow 3hrs, take plenty of water, a first aid kit and your camera with you.