Geed up on geocaching!

Monday, 1 September 2014

"Geocaching is the world-wide treasure hunt that's happening right now, all around you. 
There are 2,482, 791 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers world wide"

I first came across geocaching on Nature Play SA's list of 51 Things To Do Before You're 12 where "find a geocache in your neighbourhood" features at number six. It stood out as the only activity on the list I'd not heard of, and the description "global GPS treasure hunt you can do with most phones" piqued my curiosity. I started to see references to the activity about the place but still wasn't actually sure what was involved when a free 'come and try' geocaching event at our local wetland was advertised. Bingo, just the incentive required to get our treasure hunter on!

The event was held on the last weekend of winter at the Oaklands Wetland as part of BioBlitz activities and the Marion Learning Festival. We were treated to the warmest day in months [helloooo t-shirts!] and the wetlands were abuzz with groups undertaking bioblitz activities such as flora and fauna surveying. We were joined by my daughter's BFF and family, and after a free face paint for the five kids we convened under the shade of a tree for the start of our workshop.

Luke of Active Education was our knowledgeable and enthusiastic host. He explained that geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game whereby players [geocachers] try to locate hidden containers [geocaches - "caches" for short] using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online. Geocaching combines technology with outdoor adventure and gets people of all ages out exploring locations near and far. Some fast facts on what's involved:

  • At the basic level all you need to get started is a GPS enabled device [e.g. a GPS device or a smartphone] and a free account with Geocaching. You can check out geocaching apps here
  • To begin select the location you wish to search and then choose which geocache you want to find. In selecting the right cache for a young family Luke recommends checking :
    • the cache attributes to see what you might expect at the location [e.g. "recommended for kids" versus "significant hike"]
    • the difficulty and terrain levels - 1/1 is the easiest and 5/5 the most challenging. Luke suggests sticking to the 1 to 2 range for those geocaching with young children.
    • the geocache size - choose "regular" or "large" to help make your search easier and more rewarding for the little tackers [and you!]
  • Once you select your chosen cache, use your GPS to help you search for it's whereabouts - your GPS will help you navigate to the vicinity and then you need to use your eyes and imagination to locate it somewhere within the surrounding environment!
  • Traditional geocaches feature at least a container and log book, while others may also contain family-friendly items to trade. The range of cache types currently in existence can be seen here.
  • The key rules are:
    • If you take something from the "cache", leave something of equal or greater value in return.
    • Write about your find in the cache logbook.
    • Log your experience at

Following our geocaching 101, including how to use the supplied GPS, Luke had the 25+ participants separate into our groups and head out into the wetlands and broader reserve in search of a list of caches hidden for our workshop. The kids took turns sharing the two GPS devices and after a slow first hunt and a little help they rapidly got the hang of things; using the equipment, navigating to the vicinity of the cache, using Luke's clues to narrow the search area and then finding the hidden caches.

The treasure hunting adventure had us travelling across wetland stepping stones, roaming up a hill, navigating through a vineyard and discovering a grove of blossoming almonds by a small lake. In locating the caches the kids searched under bark and the trunks of trees, and peered under rocks and into hollow logs. Their ability to navigate with the equipment, the way they worked together [and voluntarily ran past the play equipment we passed on their quests] was impressive. Even the youngest two at ages 2.5 and a recently-turned 3 were completely in on the action, with cries of "this way!" and "treasure!" common.

As my little people slept very soundly that night I downloaded the geocaching app to my phone and discovered an extensive geocaching community and a bounty of caches and activity in our neighbourhood. And would you believe there's even a small cache hidden in our vacant block! Miss six's eyes grew wide at that news and it was a unanimous decision to hunt for that cache as soon as possible. 

After our first geocaching experience I have to absolutely agree that the sport is a great way to unite screen time with green time, and is an ideal activity to do with friends and families.We can now cross number six off the Nature Play SA list and yet I have a feeling our geocaching adventures have only just begun!


  1. Sounds awesome Claire, I've read about geocaching but wasn't sure of how it actually worked. I think Milla and Ari should take us on an introductory treasure hunt....level1... Gentle walk:). Mumxx

  2. Hee hee, sounds good Mum - you get better and we can go discover the ones hidden at Shepherds Hill Rec Park! Xx