Travel bug's catching

MICHAEL English has a travel bug.

And not the type you might think. His travel bug is a ninja turtle figurine and thanks to its tracking device, he knows that the travel bug has ventured 2570km with him looking for geocaches.

But what are geocaches you must be thinking?

Geocaches or "caches" are containers of different sizes and filled with various items and geocaching is a game sweeping the globe. It is best described as an outdoor treasure hunt using a GPS to navigate to a specific set of co-ordinates in search of a particular cache.

In the past 30 days more than six million geocache updates have been logged online. It's based on a discover-and-share policy so caches are constantly updated with people logging their action in both the enclosed log book and online, and updates can include: "first to find", "took nothing left nothing", "thanks for the hide" or "didn't find".

If the latter happens, perhaps the cache has been interfered with or what the geocaching community call "muggled". Anyone who doesn't know about geocaching is a "muggle".

Mr English said it can be awkward while searching for a geocache with muggles around.

"I've pretended to be on my phone before," he said.

"Once I was looking for a geocache in bushland and there was another car there looking for the same one. But I got to it first and was 'first to find'."

Mr English, aka Groovy Doo, has hidden 43 and prefers to hide them in urban environments. He has found 263 geocaches so far - what he described as "peanuts" in the scheme of things.

"The idea is that you swap items in the geocaches, so if you take something you must replace it with something of equal or greater value.

"I've been doing it for about two years and the best thing I've ever found was a ninja turtle, which I swapped for something else and then turned it into a travel bug." Travel bugs are globe-trotting geocaches and Dorrigo-based Mr English has travel bugs in Australia, New Zealand, England and has a plush kangaroo bound for the United States.

Mr English once travelled 1100km in a weekend hunting 11 geocaches and said he has been as far north as Tweed, south as Orange and west as Moree in the past.

"I love it because it takes me to great spots that I wouldn't get to see otherwise."

Head to www.geocaching.com for more information.



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