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Another reason for a GCA Association 
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Post Another reason for a GCA Association
Those who follow the NSW section of the forum are aware of the fate of the cache named Time. http://forum.geocaching.com.au/viewtopic.php?t=9650

I had a similar incident a month earlier with a cache of mine in Victoria (Brisbane Ranges National Park).

The common thread to come out of these two incidents was they both occurred on National Parks land.

Thankfully, Victoria is more tolerant of Geocaching than its northern cousins, who have banned it.

In the past two weeks I have spoken with contacts that I have in both the Victorian and NSW Parks services to assess the state of play.

In short, Parks Victoria are aware of the practice and will tolerate it. However, they prefer that geocaching does not take people off the trail or damage the environment. Caches hidden in rock over hangs, or holes of some description are OK, as long as they are on or at the end of track.

Of course, the ranger of that park would like to know in advance and may prevent you from hiding it, or ask you to place it elsewhere, if they so choose.

While it works for the moment, it does seem to be a complicated procedure. I am still in contact with the ranger from Bacchus Marsh and am hoping to clarify the situation soon. Victorian geocachers may have more to add or dispute here.

Victorian geocachers may have more to add or dispute here.

In NSW, the situation is very different. Offically, geocaching is banned. I contacted my good friend at NSW P&WS to find out some internal background on this issue. Here is some of what they said:

Quote:
The Geocaching Policy (due for review in August 2005) has just been reviewed and the policy position has not changed. However, geocaching has been split from the Orienteering and Rogaining policy, and now has a separate policy. The geocaching policy is unlikely to be reviewed for another five years unless there is a major issue.

Geocaching is 'a bit of a headache' for park officers, because there is NO PEAK BODY to talk to when reviewing the policy.

It has been suggested you make a submission when the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation goes out for public comment - probably in the middle of the year.

You may be able to get a clause added to the Regulation so that goecaching might be permissible with consent.

For example, even though the Regulation forbids gatherings or activities of more than 40 people, and forbids sporting activities or organised activity, there is a clause in the regulation to allow rogaining and orienteering events - with permission.


When I discussed this further with my contact, the key point that came out was the lack of an Association.

Now while there are no guarantees on what a representative association would achieve with NSW P&WS (or other bodies for that matter), there is no way one can get past step one without forming such a body.

Therefore I propose the formation of a Geocaching Australia Association to represent the geocaching community in matters such as those listed above.

What the association would do, who it would be made up of, what it would produce is still up in the air. The main aim of it is to present a list of ideas to the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service, to get some form of geocaching allowed in their region.

One criticism of forming such an association would be a fear that such a body would be seen to place controls on geocaching, which is currently seen as free and open.

While there may be some merit in that, the reality is that geocaches should only be placed in locations that have the permission of the landowner.

I envisage that the association would not have the power to archive or remove caches that fall outside the law or its guidelines.

Depending upon where a geocache is listed, this would be the responsibility of the geocache owner and/or approver.

It is not an enhancer, more a messenger/point of contact. Its role is to act as a representative body in discussions, develop guidelines and promote best practice.

Please be constructive in your comments and do not flame or shoot down any ideas.


Last edited by The Spindoctors on 31 January 08 11:22 pm, edited 5 times in total.



31 January 08 11:03 pm
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Following on from the previous topic, I think there are two reasons to have a Geocaching Association.

1) To fund the server

2) To provide a national body who can represent us to National Parks etc.

Now obviously 2) requires a bigger commitment in terms of time etc. As letters/meetings need to be organision and so on. So while the funding requirements may not be as high it will require more volunteers who can put their hand up to represent us to those organisations. While I would love to the unpredictability of my job means I couldn't volunteer to be able to meet a Parks Ranger at 11am on a certain day, or attend a meeting in town with the heirarchy.

Up to people what they want really.


31 January 08 11:07 pm
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This is exactly why the GPS Society was formed in NZ, to liase with their Dept of Conservation (DOC), who are roughly equivalent to the NP&WS (except they're actually National!)

I don't think all that much has happened in this regard, but it has given them an official umbrella to act as stakeholders in a couple of DOC discussions.


31 January 08 11:40 pm
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Thanks for letting me know about the post update Spindoc Bob. It enhances more what you were trying to say. And no, doesn't invalidate my questions at all, just expands on the reasons behind them again.

There are good points and bad points about this.

1) The association can claim to represent caching as a whole and liase with NPWS etc on appropriate hiding spots. And hopefully get them allowed again.

2) We can't control where people place them (or try to). Not all new geocachers will have heard of GCA. They find the hobby, place it and maybe get it approved if the reviewers don't realise it is in a national park.

Then does the association get the blame for someone doing the "wrong thing"? Ideally the GC reviewers realise the location, and ask for clarification it has been approved by NPWS/the association. But some will slip through the cracks.

But of course something is better than nothing! And gives us some leverage to prove to NPWS that we aren't all cowboys/cowgirls who will destroy the bush in the aim of following the arrow. And I guess just about everyone will be responsible in cache placement, it is only the newcomers who need education and learn as they go along.


31 January 08 11:40 pm
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The problem that I think Parks people have with geocaching is that it's not a time-focussed activity like orienteering or rogaining.

An orienteering event is at a particular place at a particular time and the organisers are right there on the spot to make sure that their undertakings to the landowner (private or public) are adhered to by the participants.

A cache placer can't make that promise, much less an association that doesn't even have a say in the placements of caches!

It limits how effective an association can be in negotiations, as it's a "paper tiger" without even the paper...


01 February 08 12:06 am
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richary wrote:
We can't control where people place them (or try to). Not all new geocachers will have heard of GCA. They find the hobby, place it and maybe get it approved if the reviewers don't realise it is in a national park.


Very true. It would be the same situation as Sporting Shooters or 4x4 clubs. They represent the main body of participants, but can't control that everyone does.

richary wrote:
Then does the association get the blame for someone doing the "wrong thing"? Ideally the GC reviewers realise the location, and ask for clarification it has been approved by NPWS/the association. But some will slip through the cracks.


That's what I envisage. GC reviewers would be bound by any agreement. In the case of GCA caches? Well the waters are a little muddier, but once again I don't see an association archiving the cache, they would set up the guideline and pass onto the admins of GCA that action of some sort is needed.

Papa Bear_Left wrote:
A cache placer can't make that promise


True, and that would have to be acknowledged. I'm interested in finding out more about the US experience.[/quote]


01 February 08 9:27 am
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...post withdrawn after re-reading thread..........

One suggestion, if you are talking about a Geocachers representative body, could you use 'Australian Geocaching Association' or something as the terminology, not GCA Society????

GCA website does not really represent the status-quo when it comes to geocaching politics......


Last edited by CraigRat on 01 February 08 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.



01 February 08 7:45 pm
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Some of the US associations go out of their way to work with the parks not just to get something from them, i.e. being allowed to set caches in parks, but also to work on geocaching's image with the parks - such as organising CITO days with the parks, helping out on their volunteer trail days, etc. It helps geocaching's image, it helps rangers know the people and not just see geocachers as 'them', and events are always fun. Yes, we cannot 'control' all geocachers who might place a cache in a park or in an environmentally sensitive area, however we can work to ensure the parks see those cachers as the exception rather than the rule.


01 February 08 8:34 pm
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I think a national association would be a great idea, appart from all the posts above, there is a specific reason I would like to see something formed with pehaps a local state rep appointed.

Certain govt departments over here in the West have started to remove access to national parks in an "attempt" to keep our water clean, "apparently" hikers and recreational users damage the cleanliness, so for me this would me we have another body able to stand up and take them on head to head.

If you are interested, for a little bit of background read http://www.saveloguebrookdam.com/

Its just a start, all the help we can get would be great

My 2 cents

Cheers


02 February 08 3:15 pm
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Dear all,
I think a national organisation might be really the need for the NPWS just in order to get them a contact point.
However such a central point should at the end represent the cachers in Australia or a state. And there starts some problems: The cachers may use differnt platforms gc or gc.com.au or what else might come up as a platform. (In Germany "compete" at the moment gc, navicache, terracaching, and opencaching and may I am not up to date and there are others).
The other point to be thought about is the size of Australia. You need a quick way of communication cause only for NSW there can not be a central point dealing with issues in Byron Bay and at the same time in the Snowy Mountains.
Thus gc.com.au might be the way how to delegate such issues to a local level.
Another example of interacting with the NPWS or authorities is the MTB trail around Manly Dam. There are as well volunteers working for that trail and in cooperation with NPWS (I think).
So there is a lot of work around....
Let's keep it reasonable.
In Germany the forum moderators in some reagions took a kind of rep role as well.
Not sure if the forum moderators are keen on additional work.
At the end it leads to new guidelines and new rules I am sure.
But was not one big part of fun in geocaching the more or less unregulated way of doing it. OK it changed already....
Cheers
Alpini


13 February 08 7:20 pm
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Post Re: Another reason for a GCA Association
Spindoc Bob wrote:

Quote:
Geocaching is 'a bit of a headache' for park officers, because there is NO PEAK BODY to talk to when reviewing the policy.


When I discussed this further with my contact, the key point that came out was the lack of an Association.


Being the fence sitter that I am I haven't formed an opinion on this.

There is option A - Let sleeping dogs keep sleeping
Or option B - D-Day is on it's way, let's be prepared to have our pastime represented and recognised.

I'm a bit of an each way bet on this.......

Thinking about Alpini's post, one thing that I am curious about is that, if there is a National or State based association, who will you be representing;
GC cachers
GCA cachers
Terracachers
or others?

Or will it just be for anyone who is in to finding tupperware (or preferably Ammo Tins :lol: ) using billions of dollars worth of infrastructure that is based in outer space!


13 February 08 7:57 pm
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I think at the end the leading forum will represent the leading platform.
However, there is a need to looking over the fence and covering all cache labbeled tupperware, ammo tins and other containers (just thinking of some recent finds).
I assume no one wants to be in charge of other tupperware or ammo tins left in the landscape for whatever reason other than any geocache or that the community checks an accidental find of NPWS or whoever and then has to come back to NPWS: Sorry no cache due to our database, may just be rubbish...
Alpini


13 February 08 8:09 pm
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Firstly, let me clarify some changes that have occurred.

The original aim was to examine the possibility of an association to present Geocaching in Australia - not GC.com, GC.com.au, Navicaching, or whatever flavour you choose. Think of it as a group representing Aussie Rules, not AFL, SANFL, ACTNSWAFL, etc.

This has since changed to be just NSW - from my perspective only. Tasmania has recently set up there own.

In times, I believe other states may follow, and eventually a national body may form, hopefully with links to the states. God I love Australia's colonial (state-based) past.

In regards to what it does - it will not be an enforcer. I envisage that one of its tasks will be to discuss with its members and other outside bodies (Parks included), guidelines for best practice. Whether these are adopted by the various geocaching websites will be the next step in negotiation.

As part of the process in setting up the association and ensuring its non-affiliation to any geocaching platform, I recommend a separate website be set up, for which I am looking assistance.

I will open a new topic in the NSW section of this forum to provide information on progress, and allow debate. I recommend all future discussion occur there.

http://forum.geocaching.com.au/viewtopi ... 827#105827


13 February 08 8:25 pm
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