Thursday, December 29, 2016

300 in a weekend – geocaching

Our busy lives had reflected in our lack of geocaching over the past few months so it was with much pleasure that a few of boys had come together for a weekend away with an ultimate destination of Bathurst. The central plains had seen a plethora of caching in recent times so big numbers were on the cards.

Heading off Friday after work we headed south with a plan to grab a few caches around Goulburn before heading up the back way to Bathurst. Our first nights caching went well with us camping on the Abercrombie River. We woke to cool crisp clear skies and were soon back into the caching routine. “The Road Less Travelled” power-trail winds its way through this area which provided us with a seemingly never ending supply of caches. By late morning we found ourselves in Oberon where we grabbed a few supplies before heading back out into the picturesque countryside. The cache count was quickly piling up and as moved from town to town the joy of being in the countryside absorbs you.

By late afternoon and with hungry hearts we found our last cache in the TRLT series. Heading into Bathurst we took delight in a decent meal and well-earned break, but with no rest for the wicked we were soon back out attempting to find more Tupperware. However it appeared our luck had run out with more DNF’s than there was finds so we returned to Bathurst where showers and bed were a high priority.

Sunday dawned with the same priorities but the roar of race engines coming from Mt Panorama dampened my enthusiasm. An unknown race meet meant that our planned caching spree around the mountain wasn’t going to happen. Instead we headed back towards Oberon where a number of small clusters quickly added to our find count. We even managed to get a few of last night’s DNF’s using fresh eyes. By days end we’d put a good dint in our planned trip and with our find count pushing towards 300 we chose to cache for a few more hours before opting to drive home where the comfort of our own beds seemed to be a winning choice.

After a very long day and equally long few days we were home again with a massive 300 plus finds and another area clear of caches.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

4 in 1

Hatching a plan to do 4 caching events in one day was a bit of a “tongue in cheek” comedy when I first mentioned it to others but with it being ‘International Geocaching Day’ the thought of attending 4 events in the one day took some shape.

 So it was on the 20th Aug that Mizmaz and myself headed to the southern highlands for a chilly early morning event. As many others laughed at us we signed the log and headed south to Nowra where we made it in time to celebrate lunch with the local geocachers as part of their event.

The next event for the day had us travelling north to Dolls Point where after we managed to make in it just in time for the group photo and quick chat with some familiar faces. By this point of the day the body was starting to get a bit weary but it was back to the Illawarra for our final event. Dinner with our local caching community was the culmination of a big day mostly spent driving from place to place, but who else can say they’ve done 4 events in 1 day.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Pre 2002 Geocaches

For a little while now I’ve been slowly finding all the geocaches that had been published in the year 2000-2001. Due to their rarity and sparse localities it’s turned into a long-term goal.

With this in mind there were 2 geocaches that needed to be found in the Kosciusko National Park above the snow-line which means for a few months of the year they are inaccessible and for the other part of the year I seem to always find myself busy with other activities. So it was pleasing that I’d finally got the planets to align and I was heading south for a walk in the Alpine region.

In early May I found myself leaving home at 3am with a plan to drive straight down to Charlotte’s Pass where I’d leave the car and head off for my walk along the Main Range. To my pleasure I made good time and by 8am I was sitting in the carpark of Charlotte’s Pass doing a final gear check before setting off. I started for the Blue Lake under clear skies but very crisp and cool conditions. Puddles were covered in ice and plants were crisp with frost. The conditions made walking a little slippery, especially the river crossings where stepping stones were icy slippery….. the last thing I wanted was an early morning dip in the Snowy River. Making good time I was soon approaching the Blue Lake and my first geocache. The 2-Dogs cache of “Great Southern Land GC26E4” was on my to-do list. After a short search perched looking down on Blue Lake the cache was in hand.

With more ground to cover I was soon gaining altitude as I headed towards the track junction of the Main Range. Shortly after reaching this point I headed northeast and climbed Mt Twynam where the 360deg views were amazing. The mountains went forever and the valley’s disappeared into the abyss below, but I needed to keep going as my ultimate goal lied atop of Mt Anton. The “Australia’s Used to Highest GCF7” cache and my last year 2000 published cache were still ahead of me. With Mt Anton in sight the weather started to change with a strong wind blowing in high cloud and chilling temperatures, but alas it didn’t hamper my efforts as I soon had the geocache in hand.

After the obligatory photos it was time to start heading back, the wind had strengthened and on a number of occasions the cloud blocked out all views and with so many thoughts of bad luck stories rushing through my head I didn’t to add my own chapter. Descend off Mt Twynam I was slightly disappointed to see the serenity of my walk shattered by a massive school group that was tackling the Main Range walk in the same direction I had hoped to do. I wasn’t in the mood to share this walk with 60+ school kids so opted to bow out and head back to the car where I could continue my adventure in a different direction.

5½ hours after starting my walk I was back at the car having completed a 20km walk in some of Australia’s most spectacular countryside…. I certainly wasn’t complaining.   

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Canberra Caching

For a place that is so hilly and so cold in winter, Canberra offers so much for the outdoor enthusiast and geocaching is no exception. Over my years of caching I have done a few trips to Canberra for big numbers. The place is rife with puzzles, powertrails and geo-art and that’s just the specialised caches, chuck in the standard plethora of caches that litter any suburban area and you have the makings for a good weekend.

After work on Friday 8th steeba, Hoojar and I hit the Hume Hwy in search of the large amount of unfound caches that awaited us around Canberra. We headed straight out to the Captain Flat trail where a few hours of night caching seen us quickly rack-up 80 finds before midnight. From there we opted for an early night camping on the grounds of the Queanbeyan Scout Hall.

Saturday saw us hitting the caching trails early. Today we opted for 2-wheel transport taking advantage of the many hides that hug the bicycle tracks in Canberra. The Majura and Centenary Trail were on our hit-list. Perfect weather accompanied us as we had the day in the saddle. By days end we chose to have a night at the club with a good meal, a few drinks and a couple of games of footy.

Sunday was another early start with plans of finding the Kowen Forest Kangaroo but arriving at the forest we were turned away by the organisers of a motorbike rally which were occupying the forest for the weekend. Dejected we drove away with our plans shattered. Re-grouping we headed across town picking up small pockets of caches which kept us busy for much of the morning. By late lunch time we’d had enough caching around Canberra deciding to return home early.

Our weekend was very profitable in the find count and another great time away with the boys.

Friday, March 04, 2016

SES Geo-Art Puzzles

I’ve been toying with the idea of hiding a geocaching powertrail for some time now. Initially I’d brushed the idea off as just another one of my hair brain caching projects, but the more I thought about the idea of hiding a large number of caches the greater my enthusiasm became. Each time I thought about the powertrail I’d come up with a new twist to what my powertrail would be like. One idea I had was to make some Geo-Art with my geocaches, however each positive thought was met with the roadblock of “where in the Illawarra” could I hide a powertrail of caches.

After way too much deliberation I decided to make a geo-art powertrail using mystery geocaches, that way the artwork could be offsite from the actual hides…. Brilliant I thought, but how could I come up with 30 mystery caches and what would my geo-art look like? I soon had the idea to combine my two passions of geocaching with SES and thus my artwork was born. The internet opened up my thinking to a wealth of different puzzle caches and I soon had the concept to hide 30 unique SES puzzle geocaches.

When creating and deciphering puzzle caches I’ve found there are so many different options but most of them can be grouped into the following categories
  • Hidden information – Often the information we seek is right there in front of us. Text can be in plain sight or in the form a hyperlink, some caches use varying font sizes, colours or typefaces to provide information about the cache. Another good place to hide coordinate information is in the source code of the cache listing. Other less common places to find information are the cache title, cache attributes, cache logs, travel bugs, geocoins or the hider’s profile.
  • Lists – This is common type of puzzle, most cache coordinates will be made up of 15 numbers so if a list contains 15 items it is very likely that each item can be associated with a single digit.  Sometimes a list can be pictures instead of words. Nearly every list requires you to find a particular pattern.
  • Codes and Ciphers – This is where it gets a little harder. A code can be like Morse code, Binary, Braille or even foreign languages while ciphers can range in difficulty from cryptograms to much more sophisticated ciphers that use keys. Many ciphers utilise symbols or letters as a way of substituting or transposition of the real coordinates. Often a frequency analysis can be used to recognise letter patterns.
  • Images – To coin a phrase “a picture tells a thousand words” and this is so true, whether its counting the number of pictures on the cache page or counting items within a picture. Reversing an image or taking away coloured layers can reveal coordinates. Changing the pixels within a picture or animated gifs have been used in the past. Painting with numbers can expose coordinates in an image or the use of stenography.   
  • Word, Maths and Logic puzzles – This is a common form of puzzle with word puzzles being very popular. The puzzle can often take the form of anagrams, acronyms, crosswords, rhymes or word sudoku’s. The use of maths in a puzzle can take many forms, whether its finding the area of a shape, sequencing of numbers, finding constants or the use of base numbers. Finally, the use of logic statements, nonograms or hidatos can be used to reveal the coordinates, often the hider asks a number of multiple choice questions which can be placed into crosshatch grids and/or tables to find the coordinates.
In getting my series of SES puzzle caches published I’ve learned a lot about puzzles and the use of Google earth for my artwork. I hope the finders of my caches enjoy them as much as I have in placing them.

Thanks for undertaking the challenge
The Rats