So you've wandered onto a web page, read an article or maybe accidentally found a cache somewhere and are now trying to work out what this strange sport is all about.
Geocaching is a loosely organised individual sport relying on satellite technology to show you where latitude and longitude coordinates are within a few metres. Geocachers set off to find coordinates that they have gotten from websites such as this one and when they get there they are rewarded with a find. They use a hand-held GPS Receiver, about the size of a mobile phone, to find their quarry.
What do they find? More often than not, a lunch box containing a log book, maybe some swappable goodies, and a pencil. Geocachers write a log in the book about their hunt, they may swap something they have for something in the box, always making sure their swap is fair, and replace the container exactly as they found it. The containers vary and may be as small as a film canister or as large as a 44 gallon drum.
But caching (pronounced "cay-shing" - not the American "cash-ing") is about a lot more than plastic boxes - it's all about getting out and seeing things you wouldn't otherwise have seen. Some are puzzle based, some take you through several steps before you get to the final point. There are lots of variations and only a few rules.
After finding a cache, finds are logged on the internet as well so that other finders and the cache owner can see what is going on with their cache. Photographs can be logged as well, adding to the wealth of information and a personal history that geocachers are creating.
Sites like Geocaching Australia and Geocaching.com allow creation and logging of the caches you find. Courtesy asks that if the cache you find is originally listed on one site, then you make your logs on that site.
Geocaching Australia is not only a listing site but provides local information and statistics that are not available through Geocaching.com . The Geocaching Australia Forum is a valuable source of information, community and support as well. Don't forget to read the FAQs as well.
Cachers are environmentally conscious - try to stay on paths, not to crush vegetation and leave an area as you found it - if not better. Cache In Trash Out - if you find rubbish on a trail - take it out with you. The best way to a cache is usually up the path until the last possible moment.
Beg, buy, borrow a GPS Receiver from somebody, plug in the coordinates and head out - it's the best way to find out what this somewhat odd sport is all about.