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.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mid North Coast Wander

Some 6 months after our washed out attempt of caching through these parts we’d finally locked in a date and were heading north. Only half the Gangsters could make the trip, but Hoojar had joined us for the ride.

Leaving Sydney late Friday afternoon we made good time as we headed up the F3 Freeway and by 10pm we were leaving the tarmac for our first cache of the weekend. The darkness of night had us naive to the beauty we were entering. The caches flowed and after a few hours we decided to make camp for the night just near No: 42

Morning revealed we’d jagged the perfect grassed camping spot, waking refreshed we were soon back on the trail of the Mid North Coast. In the light of day the magnitude of the countryside could be appreciated, the mountainous terrain of the “Brother Ranges” and beyond was beautiful. As a daunting spin-off there was a strong smell of smoke and over the next few hours it got stronger and thicker. At one point we considered exiting the area for our own safety.

By late morning we’d nearly finished on the western side of the highway included the enjoyable caches of GCX204 and GC4FG9B. After a couple more caches around Coopernook we headed out to Harrington. Its’ here that 2 series of caches come together to provide a plethora of caches for a coastal town. For us it was earned lunch break and an opportunity to replenish our supplies. However our break was short lived as there was lots more to do.

Heading north along the coast road, the finds continued to mount as we visited the small towns of Crowdy Head and Diamond Head. We all agreed given more time we’d love to return some day for a better look. By late afternoon we were exploring the option that we’d finish the trail by nightfall. After a couple of phone calls it was decided to catch up with the Browngang caching team who lived a short drive further north.

Meeting Chris and X (Browngang) at the pub we enjoyed a hearty meal, a bourbon or two and some good company before accepting the hospitality of our fellow geocachers.

Sunday dawned with inclement skies and no real urgency to do anything, but after a hearty breakfast we were on the road again. Chris took us to a few of his local caches before we were on the road heading south. By the time we’d reached the highway at Kew the heaven had opened and for the next few hours we drove through constant rain. We all agreed how lucky we’d been to have done all our caching the day before.

Arriving home, we were very pleased with our efforts. 250 finds and another Gangsters trip complete. Thanks FarmerFrentzen and Hoojar for a great weekend.