AN INTRODUCTION TO GEOCACHING

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By Michael Elkins

Geocaching is a real world, outdoor treasure hunting game involving GPS enabled devices to find hidden treasures.

Players navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden. In its simplest form, a cache always contains a logbook or log-sheet for you to log your find. Larger caches may contain a logbook and a number of items. These items turn the adventure into a treasure hunt so to speak. You never know what other cachers may have left for you to find.

There are millions of ‘Geocaches’ hidden around the world – there are probably some near you right now! Just remember, if you take something, leave something of equal if not greater value in return.

Quite often you may also find a ‘Trackable’. What’s a trackable I hear you ask? Well a Trackable is a sort of physical geocaching ‘game piece’. You will often find them in geocaches or see them at geocaching gatherings. Each Trackable has a unique code which can be used to log its movements on Geocaching.com as it travels around the world. Some of these items have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles thanks to geocachers who move them from cache to cache! There are three main types of Trackables: ‘Travel Bugs’, ‘Geocoins’ and ‘Others’.

A Travel Bug is a trackable tag attached to an item that geocachers call a ‘hitchhiker’. Each Travel Bug has a goal set by its owner. Goals are mostly travel related, such as ‘to visit every state in America’ or ‘travel from one side of the planet to the other’. Travel Bugs move between caches with the help of geocachers like you.

Geocoins are customisable coins created by individuals, or groups of geocachers, as a kind of signature item or calling card. They function exactly like Travel Bugs and should be moved to another cache, unless otherwise specified.

Other Trackable items come in various forms. A common feature of Trackable items is that they bear a unique ID code and text noting that they are trackable at Geocaching.com.

For most participants, its just another game to be played – but not behind a computer or TV screen. For others its a lifestyle and for a certain few its an addiction that takes over. I myself have been caching for a little under a year now and in that time have found almost 200 geocaches. What I love about geocaching is the fact it takes me to places I’ve never been before, like Woodlands Historic Park just near Melbourne Airport, where 100 geocaches have been placed in a series, plus others placed outside of the series. There are multiple types of cache hides and containers to be found including: traditional, multi, mystery, event, CITO (cache in trash out), earthcache and wherigo, just to name a few.

Getting involved is simple too, just head over to geocaching.com and register for a free membership, visit the ‘hide and seek a cache’ page, enter your post code and click “search.

You can then choose a geocache from the list and click on it, enter the coordinates into your GPS-R or mobile phone (after downloading an app to cache with) and follow the instructions, using your device to get you there, sign the logbook, return the cache to it original location and then log your find online.

Not everyone picks it up the first time so you may have to go out a few times to get the full experience and to really know what you are doing, but once you understand what’s going on, I can assure you that most will never turn back.

If you are interested in finding out more, go to www.geocaching.com/guide – and start hunting!

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