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May 12, 2016

Choose your own adventure: Geocaching in the city

History SA has made time travel possible. Almost.

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  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Julian Cebo

In a small city like Adelaide, it can be easy to feel like you’ve explored every conceivable nook and cranny.

You can name every side street you pass on your way to work, you know which footpaths are riddled with cracks and which are riddled with cemented-in coins.


For a list of Worst Cache Scenario’s History Month-themed caches, head here.

To see more History Month events, see their website.

You’ve probably even gotten to the point where you no longer wonder whether the tiny shop is run by intelligent mice or shrunken humans when you pass it on Rundle Street, and have just accepted the mystery.

But, as avid Geocacher David Walker can tell you, there’s always more to discover.

“I’ve lived in Adelaide all my life, but since starting Geocaching there’s been so many side streets and bits of street art and stuff like that I’ve never seen because there was never any need to go down this weird little alley,” David says.

“It’s actually really good because it gets you into areas that you normally wouldn’t go.”

Dating back to 3 May 2000, Geocaching is an urban treasure hunting game that came about after the public’s access to GPS technology was markedly improved and regular users wanted to test the abilities of their GPS gadgets.

Since starting Geocaching there’s been so many side streets and bits of street art that I’ve never seen because there was never any need to go down the weird little alleys

David Geo Cach by Jc for CM-1827

A container was hidden in a secret location, its co-ordinates were posted publicly, and people with the relevant technology set out to find it.

Sixteen years later, it’s become a global community and all that’s needed to participate is a smartphone with the Geocaching app.

For David, the most interesting part of the process is learning about particular landmarks the caches are hidden around, and so saw the opportunity for his Geocaching interest to coincide with the work he was doing for History SA.

“Working in History SA’s office, I [realised] how much all of those guys know about Adelaide,” David says.

He and his Geocaching team, Worst Cache Scenario [!], started creating caches based around locations where History SA was located – the Migration Museum in Adelaide, the Motor Museum in Birdwood, and the Maritime Museum in Port Adelaide – and drew on the extensive knowledge of History SA’s staff to create Geocaching History, an interactive and immersive treasure hunting tour of Adelaide, just in time for the South Australian History Festival.

“You don’t want to go [searching] and be facing a brick wall, you want to go somewhere [and] you want to learn something,” David says.

“Knowing Adelaide, there’s so many different historic sites around the place… it did seem to have that real obvious connection between the people who know all of this stuff and people who want to go out and explore.”

Eager to be involved, CityMag set out to find a cache of our own, under the watchful (and none too helpful) eye of David.

With only minor difficulty we uncovered the plastic container (full credit to photographer, Julian. None to Johnny) and examined its contents, signed the logbook, and left the area feeling a definite sense of accomplishment.

With this introduction, and so much more to be uncovered, expect to see CityMag caching around the city for the rest of History Month.

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