An Evening Chat with ABC’s David Astle and GVI’s President Jo Cox (aka heymissjo)

David Astle is a well loved author, radio presenter, crossword maker and a self proclaimed word nerd. You may have seen him on SBS’s Letters and Numbers, or perhaps completed one of his crosswords as the author of both the Age and Herald Sun puzzles.

On a recent hike in Yackandandah, David stumbled across a group of cachers fossicking around in the bush. This both excited and interigued him and after chatting to the group, he decided it was time to learn more about this crazy game we know as geocaching.

Last night, Geocaching Victoria’s President Jo Cox, was a guest on his ABC ‘Evenings with David Astle’ radio program. This was a great opportuinity to promote our great game and share on mainstream media. We hope you enjoy the interview.

What is a Pathtag?

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For those of you that do not know about the craze that is pathtags, here is a little info on what it is all about:

“Pathtags are personal trading items. Used most often in Geocaching, they are also very handy for Scouting, Military and Promotional use. A pathtag is a single-sided custom metal tag about the size and weight of a U.S. Quarter, a one Euro coin or an Australian ten cent piece.”

 

Believe it or not, Australia is the biggest consumer of pathtags outside the US and it is getting more and more popular every day.

You may have found a pathtag in a cache somewhere or even seen others swapping them at an event. How do I get started you say? Well, is is quite simple really. If you know a little about design, you can actually design one yourself. If not, do not worry, there are lots of people out in the caching community that for a nominal fee will design one for you.

Go to pathtags.com to check out latest deals and current prices to get your own tags minted.

blueprintahomburg pathtagblueprintv2

During the pathtag creation process, you can choose from a selection of “Give Backs” just like the Geocaching Melbourne ones below.

Tag Backs

Safety First

Fairly recently one of us had a nasty fall in a very remote location. What happened after that was the use of a PLB and probably a text-book rescue but have a read for yourself:

For those who may not know, Sylvia has had a fall during a bushwalk in the West MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory. Slipped on wet rocks at 5.30 am enroute to the toilet, did a backflip and landed on her back, cracked a rib and punctured her lung. Then walked 15km with a 16 kilo pack before they set the emergency beacon off. Helicopter rescue and a 3 day stay at the Alice springs Hilton (hospital)
She is a tough old bird!

Rescue

First of all Sylvia is on the way to a full recovery and except for some problems with coughs, sneezes and left-hand car turns, she doing well 🙂

The moral of this incident is, that it doesn’t take much to turn a perfectly fun geocaching trip into a nightmare. However a PLB or satellite tracker can take the stress and worry out of a rescue operation. In general by activating these devices, you will alert a professional emergency centre which then takes the necessary steps to get you to safety.PLB

The used device was a kti safety alert PLB – SA2G owned by the Maroondah Bushwalking Club. You can pick up PLBs for as cheap as $200 and with a shelve-life of over 5 years and no subscription fees, this is a very low price for maybe saving your life one day. The list of people who perished in remote Australian areas because they did not have proper communication, is unfortunately fairly long. The recent case of Dane Kowalski is just one of the more prominent ones.Chopper

Before you are going into remote areas, take some precautions. Think TREK:

  • T – Take adequate supplies of food, water, navigation and first aid equipment.
  • R – Register your planned route and tell friends and family when you expect to return.
  • E – Emergency beacon (PLB’s) can be hired from a lot of shops around Melbourne. In NSW they are available free of charge from the Police Force and NPWS.
  • K – Keep to your planned route and follow the map and walking trails.

You wonder how this might look in the real geocaching life. Easy! This weekend I will head out to a remote and unloved cache in the Victorian High Country. This will be a solo hike which enforces the need for a proper emergency communication channel. But let’s have a look at my TREK plan:

  • T – Take adequate supplies of food, water, navigation and first aid equipment.
    I have a enough food for 4 days with 2 days worth in the day-pack. I also got a paper map in case my GPS runs dry and a proper first-aid kit.
  • R – Register your planned route and tell friends and family when you expect to return.
    Yesterday evening, I briefed Anna about the planned trip, the route and possible deviations.
  • E – Emergency beacon (PLB’s) 
    I own an inReach SE which not only serves as an emergency beacon but also as a two-way communication device. You can follow my progress from 6pm tonight at https://share.delorme.com/Philipp or on the Geocaching Melbourne facebook page
  • K – Keep to your planned route and follow the map and walking trails.
    Although I don’t have any intention of doing so, I have the option to let Anna know I changed plans. The iridium satellite network has 100% global coverage.

Although all of this sounds pretty scary, leaving the beaten path in the suburbs for the true gems of geocaching, can be one of the most rewarding things. Thanks Ian for the pictures and all the best recovery wishes for Sylvia.

See you on the trail
Philipp

Logging Etiquette

Geocache hiders sometimes go through a great deal of planning to place their caches. As a result, they'd like to hear your feedback on whether you liked or disliked any aspect of the hide, or if you feel that some cache maintenance is required. Single word, acronym, or emoticon logs may be easier when you have a lot of caches to log, but it doesn't tell the hider or other finders anything about your adventure (or lack thereof) in finding the cache. Please keep this in mind when entering your log.

(Fell free to add this text to one of your own caches)

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You may or may not have stumbled upon this text in one of the cache-descriptions. Now what does this want to tell you? Cache Owners (COs) are placing caches in their own time at their own cost. Nobody gets paid for this … unfortunately the amount of professional geocachers is fairly limited and almost all of them are retired.
So the only real rewarding currency for COs are your logs. Yes there are favourite points as well but not everyone uses them.

So next time you find a cache which you really enjoyed, have the courtesy to reward  your cache owner with a nice log. This will encourage them to place more caches like this and other cachers can read from your log that this will be most likely an enjoyable experience. On the other hand you can pick a good cache just by looking at the length of the logs. If they are mostly short, single words or abbreviations like TFTC, it’s probably not a memorable cache. If you see one lengthy story after the other, it’s worth to have a closer look.

To give you an idea which is good and which is not, have a browse through the  points below. By all means – there are not many rules about writing a log and we marked them with a *. Also nobody forces you to write a long and nice log. If you don’t feel like it because maybe the cache wasn’t that good, don’t do it.

  • Keep it family friendly and avoid foul language*
  • Avoid spoilers*
  • Write what you liked about this cache.
  • Write what you didn’t liked about this cache and why.
  • Tell about your hunt or why you went after this cache.
  • If something funny or interesting but caching-unrelated happened along the way, write about it.
  • Do not copy and paste logs or big parts of them. This is considered to be bad etiquette since good logs implies individual logs.
  • The names of all your caching mates and the current weather aren’t that interesting – you’d be surprised how often this is a “log-filler”. The same thing goes for a bunch of abbreviations.
  • and most of all: Try to go after caches where you actually want to write a log in the first place. That makes writing them much easier.

If you need some more inspiration, read through Archie B1 & B2’s winning log of the 2014 Victorian Caching Awards on The Terrible Hollow. He had to put it into two logs and it is very a funny read … although he didn’t even find the cache! That said most of his logs are very entertaining.