What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is an outdoor pastime in which participants use a global position satellite (GPS) receiver to find hidden objects, known as geocaches.
At the time of publishing, there are more than 3 million geocaches hidden throughout the world in over 190 countries. Of those just shy of 80,000 geocaches are hidden across Australia, with just a little over 14,000 hidden and active in South Australia.
This video from Groundspeak, Inc. provides a quick overview of what geocaching is all about.
Where was the first Geocache in SA?
The first geocache in South Australia was ‘Sandy Creek’ which was placed on 17 December 2000, in Sandy Creek Conservation Park. Unfortunately it is no longer active having been archived on 11 November 2001. The co-ordinates for this geocache was at S 34° 36.355 E 138° 51.211.
The oldest current geocache in South Australia is GC114, located in the Riverland, and is known as ‘Riverland Geocache’. This geocache was placed on 1 January 2001.
What are the basics of Geocaching?
Geocaching is a modern version of the traditional game of hide and seek. Someone hides a container, named a geocache, and then tells others, via a listing website, where it is hidden.
A geocache can vary enormously in size, starting from being extremely small (known as a micro geocache) all the way through to a 44 gallon steel drum (known as a large geocache).
A geocache consists of a waterproof container, which must contain a logbook that the finder can sign in that they have found the geocache. Depending on the size of the geocache, the geocache could include a pen/pencil to write in the logbook and swappable items commonly referred to as swag.
So that others know where the geocache is hidden, the hider uses a GPS receiver to record the geographic coordinates of the location in which they have placed the geocache.
These coordinates consist of two attributes – the latitude and longtitude.
To let others know where the geocache is located, the hider publishes a description and its geographic location on the internet.
The largest and most popular geocaching listing website is Groundspeak’s geocaching.com website, but there are also several other websites providing listing services.
Geocachers searching for a geocache can use such listing websites to identify their nearest geocache. They then enter the geographic coordinates into their GPS receiver and ‘follow the arrow’ until they are in close proximity to the geocache.
Although the GPS receiver will guide the geocacher to the location, the finder must still search for it as typical GPS receiver accuracy varies between 3 to 5 metres. Typically the geocache is camouflaged or placed in such a way as to ensure non-geocachers do not find it.
After the geocache is found, the geocacher signs the logbook and may trade items (swag) in and out of the geocache container. The geocache is then replaced as it was found and the geocacher returns home – or goes on to find more geocaches.
When the geocacher returns home, they will return to the geocache listing website and record their find on the geocache’s web page.