Port Albert – Angus McMillan

Found: 18 Feb 2012

Another trip down to the beautiful Port Albert! Another multi… surely this will be another reasonably easy one. Afterall, we know the area well and we are locals. Right?

I don't think this was here when Angus passed by...

WP1 brought us to the Angus McMillan cairn right in the middle of the round-about. After a few happy snaps and collecting the date off the cairn so we could work out WP2, we were off again.

WP2 led us to another Angus cairn. Really? There’s another one nearby? Show me!! We had to park a short way away from WP2 and walk there. Geo-husband didn’t know of any cairns down at the WP2 area either, so this was definitely going to be a new one on us! That’s what I love about caching, even if you think you know an area really well, there’s always something tucked away that you probably didn’t know about.

Llamuggle.

Walking past some accommodation areas we were spotted by a couple of Llama’s who seemed quite interested in what we were doing. I reckon they’ve seen their share of cachers! When we reached WP2 the tide was right out so it wasn’t looking its best today. We found the cairn and after a quick read we set off to find the cache. Everything was fine while we were on the move, but as soon as we stopped at GZ – we were under rapid attack.

An army of ‘big bad Banksia men’ were also all around us, keeping a good eye on things. May Gibbs has an awful  lot to answer for.

Banksia Man!.....Ruuuuunn!!!!!

The GPS was a bit jumpy and even though it kept bringing me back to a particular spot there was no cache to be found, much to our dismay but much to the delight of the mozzies who were having a right old feast. The blood loss was high, but there was a cache find at stake!! Geo-husband to the rescue again! He called me over and told me he could see the cache, could I? The hide turned out to be obvious (well, once you knew what you were looking for) and we were quickly doing our swap and signing the log before high-tailing it out of there! Took the night geocaching badge (which from the logs, had been there for over 12 months!) and left a fishing glowstick.

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WWW

Found: 14 Feb 2012

We didn’t find this one until the 14th, though we had searched on the 11th after much success at the Arched Pine. On that day, and with thunder still rumbling around the hills we decided to sneak in just one more cache for the day before the weather broke. Almost 2 hours later we left.. rained on, soaked, and somewhat defeated. This was a multi cache, so we needed dates from the info board to be able to calculate the new co-ordinates to locate the actual cache, but somehow it just didn’t seem to be coming together. We worked out two different co-ordinate possibilities and searched both, extensively. After returning home I emailed the cache owner and asked for some advice and/or reassurance. Did the cache beat us? Yes, but only temporarily..! Round 1 to the cache.

WWWrong way.

The wonderful CO decided to take a trip over to WWW the following day to sort out the coordinates and check on the cache. End result was that the original info board has been replaced, and the new one carries a different (needed) date. Great!! So we really were never going to find it with the coordinates we had.. oh well, at least I felt better about posting up the DNF (Did Not Find).

The original info board gave the date of 1854. The newly replaced sign says… actually no, I’m not telling. You’ll just have to wander out there for yourself, but it is certainly a lot different to the original date. Actually the whole story is a bit of hoo-har anyway. The ‘white woman’ story is repeated in many, many different pioneering areas, and absorbed into local folklore until it becomes pseudo fact. I personally don’t believe this particular local story. I could write pages about why, but there is a thoroughly excellent piece in the La Trobe Journal, which puts all of the facts forth. An absolute must read for anyone contemplating being caught up in the hype. Still, I guess calling it “White Womans Waterhole” is a much better alternative to “Secret Mozzie Breeding Facility”. And I have to admit, it’s an absolutely brilliant and serene spot for a cache!

We had some spare time on the 14th so off we went again, armed with the updated info. This time success was ours!! No campers around so we had the place to ourselves to wander around and explore.

On the path to cachey goodness!

Was really nice to wander around and see how well the bush has regenerated after the Black Saturday fires. Certainly a sobering thought as we signed the cache log, remembering that at the same time 3 years previously, this whole area was still ablaze, and remained so until March.

Big thanks to Jimmymaff for doing a maintenance run so quickly after my initial email. I read the logs of the cacher who came along with him to check things out, and couldn’t help but feel a wee bit guilty about the cache owner being bitten by bull ants whilst trying to remove the cache from its original hidey spot… Oops!

A quick stop at the Road To Nowhere was made, to drop off the Tuit Geo-coin I’d picked up a few days earlier, before heading home again, happy with the prospect of crossing WWW off for good. Round 2 to the geocacher!!

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Poor Albert

Found: 12 Feb 2012

Oh wow, another multi cache and it starts in one of my favourite places! That’s right, waypoint 1 can be found at the Alberton Cemetery, down on the bank of the Albert River. After a quick visit to the rellies in the Old Ground, we zeroed in on GZ and found the date we needed to work out the next set of coordinates. The Cemetery is looking more and more lovely these days. For a long time it was being used to graze animals on, until someone figured out that it actually needed preserving!

Off to WP2 to collect another date (I’m not going to tell you where WP2 is!!) and then we were off to seek out the cache. After looking at the picture on the cache description page it seems Geo-husband and I differed on where we thought the photo had been taken. I thought it looked like the Old Port, and he thought it looked more like Seabank. As he sailed around the round-about, I stopped short of saying “I told you so” as the GPS showed we were getting further away. A quick u-turn and we were hot on the trail again.

After parking a couple of muggles strolled past, so we had to wait ’til their chatter was growing faint before attempting the cache. Geo-husband is getting quite good at the spotting, and as it turns out he found this miles before I did (again)! The original container has broken down and it’s been repaired with a smaller cache tucked inside, but the original hide was extremely well done. We retrieved a rather mangy looking little orange dog that looks like it’s seen better days, and replaced it with a magnetic therapy necklace.

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The Arched Pine

Found: 11 Feb 2012

A new day can only mean a new cache adventure awaiting, right? Well sorta, but only after a quick supermarket dash. Apparently the family require food… Geo-husband had come along for the ride so after some fast talking I eventually convinced him to take the long way home.

We stopped by a small rectangular reserve at Devon North to hunt for a GCA (Geocaching Australia) cache. But after an hour of going around in circles (or should that be rectangles) and almost being captured by a legion of spiders who had created a labyrinth of webs across every available path, we decided to leave it for another day. I’ll write more about that later, when we actually do find it. Optimism FTW!!

Meanwhile these couple of cuties scared the bejeezus out of us:

Curse you and your feathers that look like scales!

Time to head off up the road to the pine plantations. Now I don’t know about you, but there’s something about pine forests that always creeps me out. Plonk me into the middle of native bush and I’m fine, but amongst the pines… well, I’d rather not. As if the atmosphere wasn’t making me nervy enough, a storm was quickly brewing. As we parked the geo-mobile I glanced quickly at the darkening sky, hoping it would hold off just long enough ’til we were safely back.

Moving further into the plantation I looked over my shoulder to note that we’d now lost sight of the geo-mobile, and we were now completely surrounded by pine trees. I think it’s the quietness that rattles me. Just stopping and listening, and hearing nothing… just stillness. All around. And then you realise you’re holding your breath and the only noise to break the silence is the sound of you slowly exhaling. Maybe I watched too many C Grade horror movies as a kid? I quickened my pace to catch up to geo-husband, you know… just in case.

The ground is as rough as guts, disguised cunningly by a soft layer of dead pine needles. We walk on. Luckily the cache name had already given us the clue we needed to look for. Mentally singing “One of these things is not like the other…” I was interrupted before the third verse by geo-husband triumphantly pointing out the obvious. Making our way over to “the little tree that couldn’t” it was again geo-husband who came up trumps. Grrr. (No that’s okay, really…)

It was another smallish cache. I’m fast running out of smallish things to swap… I need to do something about that!! Signing the log, I decided to retrieve a trackable geocoin from the cache, and relocate it. I want one of these. I think it’d be pretty cool to keep watch as it travels around from cache to cache. We carefully replaced the cache and headed back out to the safely of the geo-mobile just as a low rumbling of thunder rolled across the hills.

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In The East A Star Appeared

Found: 31 Jan 2012

They better listen ’cause we’re ringin’ a bell…                                                                          Aint no deals, we got nothin’ to sell…                                                                                          Just a taste of things to come at the Star Hotel…

Stand up all you Cold Chisel fans!! Our next cache quest brought us to the historic Star Hotel, perched very closely on the eastern bank of Traralgon Creek. Constructed in1875 on the road to Sale, the Star is the oldest surviving building in Traralgon. After the railway arrived, the town bias shifted to the other side of the creek where a new Star Hotel was built and the licence transferred. The old Star became a boarding house, then later a private home. A few minor additions were added, though the original section of the building is still there in its entirety. The original shingled roof also still survives, though it’s covered over with corrugated iron roofing now. The Star is now a gorgeous little cafe, with a private secluded feel, yet it’s only a stones throw from the hustle and bustle of Stockland Plaza.

It's somewhere in there.

Pulling up, we spotted a guy with a… was it a phone? could it be a GPSr? Had we spotted a fellow cacher? Well he was standing only a short distance from the Star, but within a radius that could have him looking for caches. We eyed him suspiciously until he soon moved off, leaving us alone to complete our mission.

Here it is!!

Approaching the Star Hotel, we had differing opinions on where we thought the cache could be, just going by the surroundings. Firing up the Groundspeak app and zoning in on GZ brought me to a tree. It brought geo-daughter to a fence. Great. Now even our iPhones can’t agree. We broadened our search area so that the two area’s would, or at least should, overlap.

Whilst scrambling about underneath some bushes around the side, I popped my head up and locked gaze over the fence of the Star with a young woman who was watching me with curiousity. She called out a cheerful hello. I gave a big smile, waved, and greeted her with a friendly “Hi,” whilst simultaneously thinking she must be wondering what the hell I am doing. I mean, here I am, a neatly dressed 40yr old woman, surreptitiously crawling around under bushes like a fugitive. Mind racing, I tried to come up with a cover story. “My dog lost his ball under here.” No wait, that’s no good… I didn’t have a dog with me. “I lost my dog under here…?” Thankfully she went back inside before any need for excuses arose.

Retreating, I quickly joined geo-daughter as she hunted out the front. We heard a door close behind us and the crunch of footsteps approaching. Uh-oh. Out came the young woman I had seen over the fence, followed closely by another woman, the owner of the Star Hotel Cafe (who I shall refer to as Mother Hen, as it soon became clear that she was very protective of the little box that brought new customers)  My fears were allayed when Mother Hen said, “Are you looking for that sat-nav box?” Whew!

She then very kindly offered to show us where it was hidden if we were stumped. We declined as we wanted to see if we could find it on our own merits, though we did ask for a wee hint. Mother Hen had a chuckle and told us to just sing out if we couldn’t find it. After exhausting all avenues we returned with our heads bowed, to ask for some help. Mother Hen promptly took command of our failed search party, and went directly to the cache hiding spot. Oh no! It wasn’t where it should be! After a good 10 or 15 more mins, with direction from Mother Hen, geo-daughter emerged triumphant. Mother Hen  seemed quite relieved it was safe, as she had been talking about phoning the cache owner to let him know it was missing. After a bit more of a chat and the signing of the log, Mother Hen supervised as we hid the cache exactly where the cache owner had originally placed it.

With a 5/5 strike rate today, we headed for home quite happy with our adventures around Traralgon.

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Count Paul Strzelecki

Found: 31 Jan 2012

Risking our lives in the pursuit of the next cache fix, we headed just out of Traralgon along the road to Rosedale, where we did battle with our fellow drivers who appeared to be competing in some sort of Bathurst-esque time trial. Timing it right when the rest of the cars must have been in the pit changing tyres and refuelling, I swung the geo-mobile around so we were on the inbound side of the road.

I’ve driven past this monument so many times but never stopped to check it out. Actually, that’s probably the most appealing thing about some of the caches we’ve hunted down so far… they remind you to stop and really take in your surroundings. I like that.

The time trials had started again so it took a little while before I was able to exit the geo-mobile without losing the door… or worse. Clambering up the side of the road to a safer vantage point, I had a quick read of the plaques plastered on the front of the monument.

A cache hidden here? You can count on that.

I quite like Count Strzelecki. In part because of his rather exotic sounding name, but also because of the doubt that still lingers to this day over any real legitimacy to call himself a Count, as well as his dedication to the woman he was never destined to be with. Back in 1820 he asked for the hand of Adyna Turno, the younger sister of a pupil Strzelecki had been tutoring. Adyna’s father rejected him as a suitor as he had plans for his daughter to marry ‘up’ so as to get himself out of debt. I wonder if that’s why Strzelecki started using the title of Count not long after? As a bit of an ‘up yours’ to Adyna’s father maybe? Either way Count Strzelecki kept himself extremely busy, travelling the world doing this great thing and that great thing, all the while exchanging letters spanning over 40 years with the woman he loved. 20 years into their letter writing, they were still speaking of marriage. Though their lives were worlds apart they were always thinking of each other – after conquering and naming Mt Kosciuszko, Strzelecki picked a single white mountain daisy and enclosed it within the folded pages of his next letter to Adyna (say it with me girls… “awwww”). Their wedding never eventuated, but nor did either marry another.  Only four of their letters still exist today out of more than a hundred written, and within these surviving letters their affection for each other was clear.

You won’t get that story on the plaque, but you will get the opportunity to hunt for the cache. Afterall, that’s what we were here for! Taking a slow look around I quickly spotted something out of the ordinary, whilst geo-daughter was busy disturbing some ants and spiders at the base of a tree. Without moving, I quietly told her she was looking in the wrong spot. Standing up, geo-daughter saw what I had been looking at, and together we headed over to make the find. Yes, together. Not like back at the Cross Cache. Tsk tsk.

This cache was also stuffed full of swaps, and… wait… what’s this? There’s a cool looking coin-shaped thing in a bag. Could it be? I’d only been reading something about Geo-coins the night before. Had we found one? Panic ran through me as I realised I had no idea what to do with it. Do we take it? How do we log it? What if I mess it up for someone? Geo-daughter had already signed the log and done the swap and was hurrying me along. I decided to take a pic of the coin and see what I could find out about how it all works.

doh! It's a Pathtag, you fools!!

I later discovered later that it was actually a Pathtag, and not a Geo-coin. That means we could have just taken it, logged that we’d found it, and that would be that. If we’d had more time the little bit of paper that was with it PROBABLY EXPLAINED ALL THIS!!

It was later that evening that I decided I would collect Pathtags. I don’t actually have any yet, but I’m collecting them.

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Cross Cache

Found: 31 Jan 2012

Fabulous. Another cache on a busy street… Actually this one was far easier than geo-daughter and I anticipated. Reading through the cache logs we’d figured out where it was even before we got there, all we had to do was watch out for the twitching of curtains from any number of houses directly across the street.

We hadn’t eaten yet, so decided it would be a good idea to take lunch along as a bit of a cover story. We grabbed some food from Fancy Fillings, the gourmet sandwich shop in Stockland Plaza. If you haven’t been there yet geo-daughter and I are seriously addicted to their toasted Chicken, Avocado and Baby Spinach Baguettes!! So off we went, lunch in hand headed for St James’ CofE.

Now call me old fashioned, but I’m really not such a fan of these modern Church buildings. The original St James which was a wooden structure erected in 1880, stood on the corner of Church and Seymour streets, it was then later rebuilt on a site in Church Street in the early 1920’s. This was a rather cool looking brick building with a grand and almost fortress-like bell tower. It was later sold off to the Church of Coles, where many a shopper came to worship and toss coins into the collection til’s. The present St James was built on the current site in Grey Street in the 1970’s, so it’s all relatively new, pointy and modern looking. Except for the large wooden cross in the parking area I probably wouldn’t easily recognise it as a Church.

x or rather + marks the spot

We sat down to eat lunch at GZ and just as I was unwrapping my lunch, I turn to see geo-daughter already with the lid off the cache, emptying out its contents. Well, so much for waiting for me! Lots of cool stuff in this one. We sifted through before selecting a smiley face fridge magnet and dropped in a couple of swaps. Of course geo-daughter then had the nerve to complain that her Baguette had gone cold…

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