Looking to go geocaching Brisbane style?
These Brisbane school holidays why not join the growing worldwide movement called ‘Geocaching’. Not only is it an outdoor, back to nature adventure for young and old alike, but after you read this article, you will realise that it is so much easier than you imagined!
We decided as a family to try geocaching in February this year, after many conversations that included ‘we must get around to that/it sounds fun/we love outdoor activities’. Like lots of Brisbane families, we are busy. Like lots of Brisbane families, we love our great city and the outdoor lifestyle. Like lots of Brisbane families, there are a great number of things we mean to get involved in. So in February, I bit the bullet and learned how to geocache. We moved from ‘muggle’ status (those who dont know about geocaching) to ‘Geocachers’! So now, I can explain to you how to do it and I am truly amazed at how easy and fun geocaching for kids and adults was!
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching.com says ‘Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. There are 2,381,091 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide.’ Don’t let the ‘GPS enabled devices’ stress you out. In our case, all that meant was smartphones which you use to find the GZ (Ground Zero)! Watch the video
How do you play?
You can log on to geocaching.com and read through the details. I set up a free basic membership by registering a user name and password. I then downloaded a Geocaching map app onto my mobile device. I used the one that looked like this:
It was free to download on my iphone.
Once the app is loaded, your mobile device will use its built in GPS to locate you and to locate the nearest ‘caches’ on a map. I bet you will be surprised at how many there are near where you live – we could walk to our closest one! You can click on the caches to get more details about them to help you find them. You just drive/ride or walk in the direction of the cache you are looking for and the map updates to help you find it.
Who hides caches?
Anyone can hide a geocache! Even you! They are hidden free of charge by all sorts of people in the geocaching community and added to the geocaching website for others to find. It’s that simple!
What does a Geocache look like?
Geocaches vary greatly in size and appearance. You could see anything from large, clear plastic containers to film canisters to a fake rock with a secret compartment! Your app and mobile device will give you information about how large or small the cache is, which helps you in the search.
What is in a cache and what do I do with it once I find it?
Most caches contain a logbook or log sheet of some description for you to sign and date. Sometimes there are small trinkets/collectables – great for kids! Usually you can take something, but the rules state that you have to return something of equal or greater value. It’s always a good idea to bring along your own collection of ‘treasures’ to swap with those that are found and also to bring a pen to sign the log.
Once you have found a cache and signed the log, (and swapped trinkets) it is important to return it back to its original position for the next geocacher. Remember to close and seal any tins or plastic bags to keep them safe from the weather. You can then add to your mobile app ‘found’ and move on to your next cache. You will then start to build a map of found caches.
See! Easy isn’t it!?
And really that is all you need to know to get started with Geocaching in Brisbane. The website is a great place to get more information and there is a closed Brisbane Facebook group called Geocaching Brisbane that has a good bunch of members who can help if you are a first timer or even more experienced and want to try something new. There are levels of difficulty shown on each cache’s information, so it’s pretty easy to start with the easy ones. If you ever can’t find one, skip it and try another. There are so many local ones to choose from!
If you do try it these holidays, feel free to send us your photos; post them to our Facebook page and with your permission we will share them with our fans. Tell us how many caches your Brisbane family has collected and which were your favourite.
Note: Remember when you are caching in our beautiful, natural environment that all sorts of animals live here too. Tread carefully, be mindful of where you are and respect the plants, animals and other humans in our environment.
This article was published in Issue 4 of our print magazine, June/July 2014.