I knew I would struggle to get out on a long hike this month so I cunningly set one of the 12 Hike Challenge goals for this year to be dedicated to geocaching, a gps treasure hunting game. As it turns out I was able to get to three geocaches, all quite different to each other and all achievable in my lunch hour! Caution: spoilers here for anyone looking at caches near Macquarie Uni!
Ryde Parkland geocache
The first outing for the month took me on an hour long urban walk exploring the parkland near Macquarie University. It looked fairly straightforward as there were lots of hints, but when I reached the park there was quite a lot of people there and I didn’t want to come off as the park weirdo skulking around so I took a seat and looked around from there. The hints mentioned Pythagoras so I looked for something triangular. One of the photos another cacher had taken showed a logo of some kind and, looking around, I spotted a triangular “City of Ryde” sign. I walked over and found I was out of sight of everyone in the park so I stuck my hand down the top of the sign, which was hollow, and found nothing. I looked around the little garden and couldn’t see it. Hmm. I then noticed that the sign had two parts, a metal structural column and a metallic information sleeve that slid over it. Not a bad design as it makes updating the info on the sign much cheaper than replacing the whole column. I grabbed the sleeve and lifted it and lo and behold there was the geocache! Just a small one with no room for swaps. There was no pen so I just logged my find on the app. Time was ticking so I strolled back to work with a little buzz from my lunchtime adventure!
I’d had my eye on this next geocache for quite some time as it was meant to be a huge box in the bush. I knew there would be swaps so I grabbed a ceramic owl that had been sitting mysteriously on my desk for years and headed off. There were two possible routes, one was a lovely walk through Lane Cove National Park and the other via the University sports grounds. I had studied the maps and there was a curious gap in the trail. I wasn’t sure whether there was a fence in the way or it just required a bush bash. I didn’t trust it so I decided I’d walk initially via the sports ground, find the cache, then head back via the National Park.
The sports ground was empty. I couldn’t help but think that if they were going to bulldoze bushland to make something like that then the least they could do was use it! Cynical, I know. I think I was in a mood and walking it off! I spotted some water tanks in the distance that were in the map. I hadn’t grasped the scale as they were huge! The cache was in the bushland behind them, up a small hill. The edge of the bushland was thick with growth but I spotted a flattish area a couple of meters in so I pushed my way through the overgrowth and soon found myself on a foot pad of sorts. Others had clearly been here. I oriented myself and followed the pad, ducking under branches and avoiding being scratched until a saw a slight clearing with a large plastic tub in it! Found it! I opened the tub and found all sorts of things in it, from bracelets to spaceship toys. I rummaged through and found a “wallet ninja” credit card sized multitool so I swapped my owl for it and signed the log. I’ve actually used the tool a few times now- I had often wanted to buy one but wasn’t convinced it was truly useful.
I pushed my way out of the bushland and headed for the path to the national park. There was a locked gate there. I considered squeezing through or scaling the fence then realised I just couldn’t be bothered! So I abandoned the park route home and just headed back to work the way I came. That was fun!
Earthcache at Macquarie University
The final cache for the month was actually an Earthcache. This type does not have a box to find rather it takes you to an interesting geological feature and asks questions to help you understand it better. This one took me to a geological rock garden. It made me examine some petrified wood to identify the contaminants, then showed me some huge sandstone bore cores and finally there was a chunk of limestone littered with fossils. I also found out about the biogeographical “Wallace line” which separates Asia from Australia (back to Gondwana times) and shows that the species to the north are different to those in the south. The path through the garden was named the Wallace line. That was quite interesting. I’d walked past the fossils and core many times without noticing them so it was great to be made to take notice of the detail.
All in all I had some rather fun lunchtimes at work this month! Hopefully with the cooler weather coming I’ll be able to head out on a more traditional Bushwalk next month.