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What is geocaching?

Ten years of Earthcaching

Spindoc Bob at Earthcache IIIn the first few years of geocaching you could count the number of fellow geocachers on one hand, and most of them you only knew online. It wasn’t unusual to have to spend a good part of a day searching for one of your closest unfound geocaches and locationless and virtual geocaches were still part of the game.

Then, in the second week of 2004 a new type of geocache appeared — the EarthCache. At the time it was listed as a virtual geocache, the first one being Earthcache I - a simple geology tour of Wasp Head.

It took me a few months to find the time to head down to the south coast of New South Wales and find it, but in the meantime a second EarthCache close to work appeared - Earthcache II - the geology of WoolShed Creek, NSW. Not surprisingly I got first to find.

 

It was when I found this EarthCache that I realised the person who created these was a friend of mine in the science communication field, Gary Lewis.

Gary, aka geoaware, was head of the Education and Outreach Unit at Geoscience Australia. Our paths had crossed a number of times, in fact he once offered me a job at GA a few years earlier.

Although he was a local Canberra-boy, Gary was working at with the Geological Society of America, based in Boulder, Colorado.

A little over a year later, EarthCaches, along with virtuals and locationless geocaches, were shunted across to the newly developed Waymarking website.

After lobbying from Gary and his colleagues, EarthCaches were eventually reunited with geocaching, becoming a type in their own right.

Since then, EarthCaches were grown in number and popularity.

In January 2014, EarthCaching celebrated its 10th anniversary. Among the many events held around the world, was one at Wasp Head hosted by Geocaching NSW.

Although Gary frequently returns back to Canberra to catch up with family, work commitments back in the US meant he was unable to attend.

I read the following on his behalf:

Firstly, I am so sorry that I am unable to be with you all today.

This is a very special place for me - a place I holidayed every Christmas as a child and where I learnt to spend time clambering over rock platforms. It was destiny that the very first EarthCache would evolve here.

Ten years ago I was a lucky guy in the right place at the right time. The Geological Society of America has just employed this Aussie, a GSA member mentioned the new game of geocaching to my boss, and I was on holiday here with my kids looking at the rocks. The rest is history.

Since this EarthCache was placed on 10 January 2003 an amazing four million people have visited over 16,200 EarthCaches in 165 countries around the globe. That is a truly outstanding impact - people outside, having fun and learning about our dynamic planet all at the same time.

And all of that amazing credit goes to the whole community that visit, develop and love EarthCaches.

Thank you all for being at this special place at this special time. Believe me - I wish I was with you - as I write this it is -26°C here in Maine, snowing and all I can do is dream of Durras.

Kindest regards
Gary
Geoaware

If you haven't found an EarthCache, I recommmend you do. And if you haven't created one, head to your local library or speak to someone at your local college or university and create one. Either way it's a great way to learn about the world around us.

Darren Osborne aka The Spindoctors