But yesterday I failed to find the geocache reputed to lurk at plain old Petersham Oval, Sydney. What am I doing wrong? Somebody help me, please! I want to find a geocache!! Everybody else is finding geocaches – why can’t I???
I only recently heard about this sport/game/activity called geocaching. As I understand it, it works like this…
Sad nerdy people with too much time on their hands hide plastic Tupperware-like containers somewhere in the world. Inside these containers are small artefacts – maybe a keychain, a medal, or a coin from an obscure African republic. The ‘hider’ also leaves a notebook for anyone who finds the cache to write in. Then the ‘hider’ goes online and registers the GPS co-ordinates of the hidden cache, together with a cryptic clue as to its whereabouts, on a geocache website.
Next it’s over to the ‘finders’, sad nerdy people like me with too much time on their hands. And a GPS device. Maybe a compass would have helped; I’ll take one with me next time.
I visited a geocache website and discovered that there were a number of geocaches hidden within walking distance of my house in Sydney. Everywhere is within walking distance if you’re a sad nerd with too much time…to paraphrase Stephen Wright. I’d just trekked in the Himalayas. It should have been routine to stroll down the street to Petersham Oval, find the geocache, write a hilariously smug message in the notebook and be home in time for lunch. I’d seen people do it in Nepal, for heaven’s sake…!
My trekking companions Eira and Jemma were looking for a geocache in Thyangbochhe. Eira’s Austrian geocaching friends had given her small artefacts to place in the Tupperware box should she manage to find it. The online notes said it was hidden in an old tree, and that one of the buddhist monks was the guardian and would lead you to it.
We’d been trekking for a week by the time we reached Thyangbochhe (Some simply spell it ‘Tengboche’ but I want it to look as exotic and remote as possible for this story). Eira enthusiastically approached the first buddhist monk we saw, a young lad. ‘Do you speak English?’ He didn’t, but he beckoned an older monk to come and continue the conversation on his behalf.
‘Do you speak English?’
This time there was an enthusiastic nod. ‘Yes.’
‘Great! That’s a good start,’ said Eira. ‘Now, do you know where the geocache is?’
Another nod, with a big smile this time. ‘Yes.’
Eira couldn’t believe her luck. Neither could I. There were sixty monks, and she’d found the guardian of the geocache straight away. ‘Really? You really do? We heard that it was hidden in an old tree, somewhere in the monastery. Is that right?’
‘Fantastic. This is amazing! Can you take us to the geocache right now?’
Huge smile and an emphatic, ‘Yes.’
And off he strode in the opposite direction, robe flapping. When you only know three words of English, ‘geocache’ is not likely to be one of them. When you only know one word of English, just smile, nod and say ‘Yes’ to everything.
But within an hour, Eira and Jemma found a Spanish trekker with a GPS device, which indicated that according to the co-ordinates the hiding place was in the forest up the hill overlooking our campsite. They headed off into the woods and, precisely between Mt Everest and the monastery they found an old tree with a hole in it. Jemma stuck her hand in…and pulled out the magic Tupperware.If only my Petersham Oval expedition had met such success. Petersham Oval is perfectly pleasant – trees, bandstand, swimming pool. Its cricket oval is famous because young Don Bradman (for those unfamiliar with the sport, he was the greatest ever cricketer) played his first Sydney grade game here in 1926 at the age of 18, scoring a century (that’s 100 runs and it’s good).
There’s a plaque commemorating the event, and the website says the geocache is very near the plaque, at S 33.53.2928, E 51.08.5928 approximately. That suggested to me that it was somewhere in the grandstand. But the downstairs dressing-room doors were locked and the seats above them littered with broken glass, old bottles and blankets – someone had been sleeping rough there. Not a geocache to be seen.
The website refers to ‘muggles’ – sensible, decent people who know nothing of geocaching and who are mystified by the sight of a man consulting a scrap of paper and a hand-held computer, then feeling around in shrubbery and peering into garbage bins. I tried not to alarm the muggle groundstaff as they watered the cricket pitch and mowed the grass. But I was suspicious – could one of these innocent-looking workers have moved the Tupperware?
Am I doing something wrong? Does anybody have any tips for young players? Should I try again?