Saturday, December 04, 2010

Caching the Blue Mts

This is a blog I should have started many years ago but after doing a few caches in the mid mountains area last week I thought it’d be good share my experiences with all of you.

Having lived in the Blue Mts for most of my life I’d done pretty much all of the walks, seen all the lookouts and the like when I was dragged along as a young kid with my parents. Since Geocaching I have been back to quite a few spots that have rekindled those memories and other new spots have been simply awesome.

Whether you agree with the geocaching guidelines or not, some of the geocaching hides in the Blue Mts have you trekking to some very spectacular locations, I have listed a few caches that I feel are a must.

My caches
In the loop – Is a full days off track walk which takes you into the heart of the mountains. The cache is perched high above Wentworth Ck

Hay, Hay Its – Is an easy trail walk out to Mt Hay. The last 500m is off trail. At GZ there are magnificent views into the Grose Valley

Kedumba – At the site of a monument for those who helped build the road into the valley below. Its an easy fire-trail walk with magical views at GZ.

Hanging Rock – The Baltzer Lookout is breathtaking while being extremely dangerous. Views into the Grose Valley are amazing but no fences protect you from the huge drop. It’s a trail walk to reach GZ

Wild Dogs – Is a full days walk or an easy overnight hike into Wild Dog Mtn Range. Splendour Rock is an old ANZAC monument for fallen bushwalkers.

Found Caches
The Gorge – Is a lower mountains cache with a bit of adventure. It highlights the Nepean River and Glenbrook Gorge.

Florabella Series – These 2 caches I did at night but I thoroughly enjoyed the walk down into the valley floor. Both caches are not far off a walking trail.

Real Cache – Is an easy walk from the car along trails. GZ offers great views to the NE out of Castlereagh

Den Fenella Track – Is an earthcache that offers great views over the Jamieson valley while being an educational experience.

Valley of the Waters – Is one of the more picturesque waterfalls in the mountains. It’s a downhill walk to GZ but spectacular views await those who venture.

Sublime – Is one of those spots where you can just sit and watch the world go by. I look the vista from this location.

Daylight – An adventure cache in an old mine. Getting to the start of the mine can be a little difficult, but the adventure underground is worth the experience.

Point to Sister – Is not a cache for everyone, it requires a bit of fitness, but those that do it will be in awe of the views and the feats of pioneering walkers. The Furber Stairs are incredible.

Laughing Waters – A waterfall that is rarely visited but is worth the walk along a formed trail. GZ offers nice views into this small enclosed valley.

Solo Man Reloaded – is situated on Mt Solitary. This messa is viewed from every lookout around Katoomba. It’s a good steep half day walk which wont suit all, but is worth the effort.

Drop Dead Gorgeous – Is another adrenalin cache, which you need to abseil into. Its not that high but is a lot of fun. Nearby there are some great views into Megalong Valley.

Pilcher – Is a spot that offers magical views into the upper Grose valley. Its well worth the bumpy road to drive out to GZ.

Mount York – Is at the western end of the Blue Mts and offers views further west. Sitting here to watch the sun set is a must for all who come out this way.

View3-52 Darling – Is along the Darling causeway and offers fantastic views down towards the Grose Valley. This is an easy drive-by cache.

Du Faur ROCKS – Tucked away on the way out to Mount Wilson is this hidden gem. Canyoners and climbers know this area very well. The cache offers great views into the Wollangambe area.

Shrouded in Mist – Is located in the shadows of Mt Banks, which is the highest mountain within the Blue Mts. While the view at GZ isn't that spectacular. This area offers a few vantage points to the amazing cliff walls nearby.

Mirror Ball - This multi-cache requires the finder to abseil 110m into the Grose Valley. The area offers spectacular views and is a true adrenalin rush, but its only for the experienced. See my seperate report on this cache.

Caches on my “to do list”
Above the Dappled valley
Lost World
Point of No regard
Scooter on the Oaks
Scooter on the Andersons
Lockley Story – Earthcache

This list will be an ongoing project and while you may find others that are better, these are my picks of the Blue Mts caches. I hope you enjoy.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gangsters invade Port Stephens

The gangsters have been at it again, this time invading the Port Stephens region. However it wasn’t without some variation, cause this time one of the gangsters lives in the Port Stephens region. So regrettably for Big Matt his find count for the weekend was minimal.

Unlike other raids, we didn’t really spend too much time on the planning phase of this trip. The usual, leave Friday back Sunday was a given. That was until we decided to have a crack at the NSW one-day record for finds in a single day. A route around the region was quickly put together and schedule of the days active was drawn up.

Big Matt & Shell played host to us for the weekend and after arriving at their place on the Friday night we shared a few stories before retiring for an early night.
Saturday dawned very early for us, we were out the door at 3.15am leaving Matt & Shell to enjoy a sleep-in. By 3.30am we were finding our first cache on the outskirts of Raymond Terrace, from then on the finds fell reasonably quickly for the 3 of us. We were averaging 7 finds an hour and by breakfast we had already accumulated 40 finds.

As the day progressed we swept through various towns leaving very few unfound before eventually making our way out to Nelsons Bay. Those that have been here before would know the cache density out here is ripe. Plenty of finds in easily accessible locations quickly improved our cache count. However the beauty of the area is often a cacher’s downfall as many muggles also frequent the area making some finds near impossible.

As the daylight hours faded for the day we came upon a cache called “Million Dollar Views”. This particular spot was the highlight for me, with its sweeping views of the area. It was just magnificent.

Pressing on, the finds continued to mount as we meandered around the various bays, which including Salamander, Nelsons, Fingal and finally Anna Bay. Many of the time muggles shared the area with us as they too soaked up the beautiful day. Just on sunset we drove around to the Stockton Sand Dunes where we completed the nearby earthcache.

As the clock ticked over 8.30pm we finally reached the end of our intended route. We had just completed a 17-hour caching run finding 124 finds which was a very impressive days work. Back and Matt & Shell’s we shared in the spoils of our good day as we enjoyed a great night eating, drinking, singing and being merry. However the nights activities came at a cost on Sunday morning. Most of us were suffering bad hangovers none worse than mine, which seemed to get worse as the day got longer.

After a slow start we finally were capable of driving and thus headed off in search of more caches. The days pace was relevant to the way we felt – very slow. We headed south towards Swansea/Belmont where grabbed a few finds before wrapping up the weekend with us taking the old Pacific Hwy home to grab a few of those nuisance caches that just sit off the main thorough-fare.

Thanks to my fellow gangsters for another top weekend.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

GC7D45 – Breathe

The sign of a good cache is one that can withstand the test of time, GC7D45 – Breathe is one of those caches. Back in Aug 2002 Team Chaos had this fantastic idea to hide a cache unaware that some 8 years later it’d be still going strong.

The concept is simple, find the Cuckoo, find the cache. But it’s the Cuckoo that makes this cache unique. Team Chaos hid a cache somewhere in the Sydney Metro area but posted a set of bogus coordinates on the cache page. To find the actual coordinates, the finder has to find the “Cuckoo” which resides in various other caches across Sydney.

Back in Oct 2007 I stumbled upon the Cuckoo as it rested in southern Sydney cache. You can imagine my surprise upon finding the Cuckoo as it can be in any cache as long as it remains in the Sydney metro area. Not wanting to disclose to surprise to others I carefully worded my logs and rehid the Cuckoo somewhere far away.

Last month, some 3 years after getting the coords I finally went out and found the actual cache. Not to give anything a way, I can tell you that a pleasant walk with fantastic views awaits the finders of Breathe. At GZ I sat and took pleasure in reading the logs of past finders and their experiences of finding the Cuckoo.

For a simple concept, this is of NSW more memorable caches.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Second coming - Brisbane

These caching trips have become a semi regular event for the Gangsters. This time we headed back to one of our earlier haunts in an attempt to clear out another section of town. Brisbane was the destination for this 4-day juggernaut.

While Farmer Frentzen planned a family holiday to include a days caching with us, the rest of us drove up to Brisbane with one thing in mind – caching. Leaving Sydney on Wednesday night we soon had our complement of gangsters and were making good time up the Pacific Highway. We stopped along the way to grab a few highway caches but by 6am Thursday we were sitting down to breakfast on the Gold Coast.

With minimal sleep we spent a slow first day hovering around the Gold Coast and its surrounding suburbs picking off caches. As the day progressed we made our way northwards, stopping off at the “World Famous – Yatala Pies”. The gangsters will tell you that these are some of the best pies around, so be sure to stop. By days end we’d amassed 70 finds.

Booking into our accommodation we met up with our 4th gangster. After a few drinks it was off to bed for a well-earned rest, tomorrow was planned as our biggest day of the trip.
4.30am and the team was back together, the 4 gangsters were on the road in search of our first find. We used the dead of night to grab a few inner city caches, which I must say, “I love”. As dawn turned to day we found ourselves weaving a path down through Indooroopilly and onto Jindalee. Along the way we managed to grab a few of those unique caches like a “whereigo, a virtual and an earthcache”. While the finds throughout the day didn’t offer too much we did have a few fun moments as we witnessed a hit n run car accident, an early morning moment with a security guard, some inspiring "backpackers", the usual verbal slanging from all the gangsters, a “slips” catch which nearly proved very costly, a trip down a bus tunnel and way too many encounters with barking dogs.

As darkness fell we took time out for a hearty dinner, which always works a treat to recharge our enthusiasm and we were soon out finding more caches. By the time our caching spree drew to a close we’d cracked 100 finds for the day and were happy to finish on such a milestone.

Day 3 of our trip started slowly. Farmer Frentzen headed off on the next adventure of their holiday, while Steeba, Big Matt and myself went out in search of a few more caches. For a change of scenery we headed towards the coast where we found various pockets of caches and picked off the finds regularly. One of the highlights was the cache contained within Banyan Fig Tree. These trees have an amazing root system, which made for a great hide. The day finished rather early with us sharing a few drinks back at our campsite.
As Sunday dawned we were already on our way home. Our first stop was breakfast with Mum & Dad, who put on a great spread. We grabbed a few local caches before hitting the autopilot for home. Just before Port Macquarie we took a short detour in search of a cache, it was here that we noticed the car bonnet had come loose. Upon inspection we realised the locking eye had sheered right off. With an unsecured bonnet we limped into Port Macquarie and the question of “what to do” became an agonising wait as countless phone calls ensued. Some 6 hours after the breakage we were finally heading south again, all be it in the cab of a tow-truck with Matt’s car on the back.
Around 9pm we got back to Matts place, the tow-truck driver had done a great job, but our trip was far from done. Steeba and I still had 3 hours ahead of us and just after midnight we finally crawling into our own beds. What a hell of a trip home.

Thanks to my caching buddies (Big Matt, Steeba & Farmer Frentzen) for another great caching adventure. 200+ finds in approx’ 4 days.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gong Shuttle Bus event

I had a crazy idea about using the free Wollongong Shuttle bus to host a unique caching event. The plan was to get fellow geocachers to join us for a lap on the bus as it made its way around Wollongong. The idea had never been tried before and wasn’t likely to see the light of day but with an understanding approver I was pleasantly surprised to see the cache approved.

On Sat 12th Jun at 2pm nearly 20 other caching teams joined us at Wollongong Uni (posted coords) for the “Wheels on the Bus go round n round” event cache. Some caching teams had travelled along way, most using the beautiful winter’s day to have a days caching in the Illawarra.

The free green shuttle bus takes its passengers on a loop around the local attractions of Wollongong. People can hop on and off as they please. Most of the time, Uni students use the bus to easily get around town. Today however we unofficially hijacked the bus for a lap of geocaching fun. As the lap unfolded the singing and stories flowed. Many of us hadn’t been on a bus for years, but the combination of a caching event with a free ride around town had everyone enjoying themselves.

The only regret for the day was that it was all over way too quickly.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oz Mega Event

After 18 months in the pipeline, the first Mega Event held in the southern hemisphere has just concluded at Wagga Wagga. A group of enthusiastic cachers came together to form the Riverina Caching Committee. They spent countless hours methodically planning and re-planning what turned out to a fantastic gathering.

The ICC (Illawarra Caching Community) was well represented at the 4-day event with many local caching families making the trek south. We all camped together, which made for a friendly warm atmosphere.

After arriving on Easter Friday we set-up camp and took in the many activities on offer. If we weren’t out caching, we were swapping pathtags or catching up with old friends. As the first day drew to an end a huge bonfire had the kids mesmerised and soon ready for bed.

Saturday started with more socialising before we took a trip into Wagga and the surrounding district. Once back at camp the kids couldn’t wait to swap more pathtags before heading out to enjoy the live band and fireworks.

Easter Sunday dawned with the Easter bunny delivering his bundle of goodies for the kids. If this wasn’t enough a huge egg hunt saw the kids grab many more chocolate eggs. It was then the parents turn as we participated in a mad scramble for sponges which were dropped from a helicopter.
A lazy afternoon wrapped up the daylight activities. By night it was back for more live music, which included audience participation which our kids loved. Another bonfire and speeches concluded the nights entertainment.

Monday and it was pack up time. Many families chose to make an early start while we didn’t leave till approx’ lunchtime. A CITO event helped ensure the campground was left neat and tidy.

What a great way to celebrate Australia’s 1st Mega Event GC1YJ5R. Thanks to the organisers for exceeding my wildest expectations.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Numbers in Melbourne

As the 1st Australian Mega Event rolls around I thought it’d be nice to coincide a milestone find with the attendance at the Mega Event.

For this to happen I needed to rack up some quick finds. To achieve this I planned a flying visit to Melbourne. As luck would have it I managed to get some cheap $28 flights to Melbourne, some accommodation with the relo’s with the biggest expense being the hiring of a car for a few days.

Arriving in Melbourne late at night I quickly set about finding caches. With a few finds under my belt I grabbed a few hours sleep. The next morning I headed to Geelong, last time I was here I was taken by the picturesque scenery. This time was no different, I headed out towards Queenscliff and Port Lonsdale where I grabbed a few caches and took in the vista. Eventually I ran out of time, but not before I grabbed a few of the “Mad Max” series of caches.

That night I caught up with family who I hadn’t seen in ages.

The next day and there was more caching to be done. I took the opportunity to grab a rare “Webcam” cache as I cached my way around the bay. I managed to find all the healthy suburbs and seen how the other half live. My days caching finished with my tally on 85 finds. The day culminated with dinner and drinks at a nice Italian eatery.

My final day in Melbourne and I headed straight for the city where I grabbed a few unusual finds. A couple of “Earthcahes” and “Virtuals” added to the tally. I also had time to duck over to Brighton where I not only found a cache but I had time to look at the beach huts, which are quiet, amazing.

My 3-day trip ended with 95 finds, a greater appreciation of Melbourne scenery and me sitting comfort to achieve my 4000th find in Wagga.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dual Event Weekend

You could never argue that we weren't a social bunch of geocachers in NSW. The past weekend has highlighted that. On Saturday we hosted our 4th Annual Illawarra/Sth Coast Get-together. As always, it was a great day. Some 27 caching teams turned up to bask in the sun, catch up with friends and to par-take in the games.

While on Sunday we attended the 2nd Annual Hills Event. This was our first time at this event, which is hosted by Aussiecacher and is held in the food court of the Rouse Hill shopping centre. It was a very hot day but that didnt stop 26 teams turning up for breakfast and a coffee.

Both events were a great way to meet other cachers and to swap a story or 2. I'm looking forward to the Mega Event in April.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Wagga - again

It was time for another invasion, this time we headed back to an old haunt in an attempt to clear an area of caches before the upcoming Mega Event, that’s right we went back to Wagga.

This trip was to be very short by our standards. To Wagga and back in only 24 hours. We left after work on Friday 29th Jan, meeting Big Matt and Farmer Frentzen along the way. We had a small detour around Gundagai before proceeding into Wagga.

It wasn’t long before the caches were rolling in, however it wasn’t without incident. Of course we had to have the customary visit by the Police who are always curious to our movements.

Anyway it was well after midnight when we called it stumps for the night. We chose to camp up on Pommy hill.

Saturday morning and very quickly the caches were mounting up. Small pockets were being cleaned out very quickly. We then started on the ‘Fred’ caches. These caches, specifically the Rubiks Tube series are a fantastic bunch of caches, Fred puts a lot of effort into his hides and he constantly had us admiring his handy work.

The day was extremely hot and this took its toll on us, but not before we’d cleaned out Wagga of all its caches. Late in the afternoon it was time to head for home, but not before we took a look at the site for the upcoming Mega Event.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning we arrived home. Some of us had found over 100 caches while the minimum was 50+. Thanks to Steeba, Big Matt, Farmer Frentzen and Gribbly for sharing the experience with me.