Between January 26th – 28th, geocachers around the world celebrated Australia Day, an event spurred by Geocaching, HQ’s theme of “Where in the World is Signal the Frog?” Thousands gathered to earn a souvenir and hopefully learn a bit about this holiday. I decided to utilize the wonderful network of Instagram and reach out to three geocachers, EatSleepCacheRepeat, nature0nut, and Seemyshell, all Australian residents, and asked them to share a bit of background knowledge of this special day, what it means to them, and how geocaching played a role in their festivities, along with any other special memories or pictures they’d like to include. Grab a piece of vegemite toast or a lamington and take a trip down under with me.
History of Australia Day
Australia Day is a rather new addition to the calendar, beginning when the First Fleet of British ships arrived on the country’s shores on January 26th, 1788 claiming the land as their own. Aboriginals view this date as Invasion Day, sparking a bit of a controversy over the celebration. Seemyshells mentioned, “Not until 1935 did all the Australian states and territories use that name to mark that date. Not until 1994 did they begin to celebrate Australia Day consistently as a public holiday on that date.” Even though many residents have varying thoughts on this fairly new holiday, these three cachers share the same opinion: Australia Day should be a day that unites people, celebrating as one and appreciating the history of this country, both good and bad.
Nature0nut has a unique connection to the First Fleet by tracing her ancestry to a great, great, great, great, great grandmother that rode over on one of these ships. She said, “The First Fleet contained 11 ships which carried 1,000 people all together and approximately 700 of those people were convicts including [my grandmother].” You can read more about this early Australian immigrant here.
A bit of a history buff, EatSleepCacheRepeat takes much joy in her homeland’s past. Unknown to most, she shared that “our indigenous Australians are the oldest living culture in the world, and their time here has been dated back to over 50,000 years!” She went out to talk about the natives’ trading history and how it has affected the current people, such as how the beloved dingo was thought to have been a result of a trade with Asian seafarers over 4,000 years ago. The dingo’s travels are older than many other countries’ first human settlements!
Australia Day 2018
These three cachers, and many others, pair BBQs, family, and friends with Australia Day. Over the weeks preceding this holiday, Seemyshell was sharing his country’s popular dishes’ recipes on Twitter, including the famous lamington. This cake, made from sponge or butter cake, covered in chocolate and coconut sounds like a delicious desert. EatSleepCacheRepeat hosted an event and served these square-cut morsels, as well as these adorable cupcakes.
Seemyshell and nature0nut both spent their holiday patrolling the muggles. Seemyshell was able to stop by an event while on duty, taking a picture on the steps of the Sydney Opera House with Harbour Bridge in the background alongside Rodney1210. He winked when he said, “no I didn’t eat a lamington on the job.” For Seemyshell, most Australia Day memories include work, since as a police officer, he is most needed during this time, keeping folks safe from threats and their own party shenanigans.
While Seemyshell was on land, nature0nut was at the beach as a surf life saver. She was able to go geocaching with her coworkers later in the day, visiting Beenleigh Historical Village, playing games, and traveling to Fingal Head. She unfortunately couldn’t attend an event to get the Signal souvenir, since she was saving lives (I guess that’s a fair excuse!), but found “a geocache which was cleverly disguised within an Australian gumnut.” Check that camo out!
EatSleepCacheRepeat has many memories of past Australia Days. Her family’s tradition is “to get together with family and play backyard cricket, set up the water slide, drink too much, and talk about what you have been up to since last Australia Day.” She had fun pictures to share of her family, including one photo of her uncles dressed up as bogans, Aussie slang for those “less sophisticated,” or rednecks here in the U.S.
Australia Day has come and gone, but maybe this time next year we can all remember our fellow cachers, reflect on the rich history of their nation, and envision ourselves enjoying the sandy beaches, lush forests, and warm temperatures, hunting down caches in our thongs (aka flip-flops).
Have you eaten a lamington or other Australian dishes? What did you do for Australia Day? Did you attend and/or host an event? Thank you Sam, Alysha, and Craig for your contributions to this post!
Want more Australia geo-adventures? Follow these 3 cachers on social media!
EatSleepCacheRepeat: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
Seemyshell: Periscope, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram