Welcome to: Geocaching Australia

With the introduction of opencaching.com last year there was a lot of talk about geocache listing services. One of the things we noticed was that there wasn’t much of a focus on what the other listing services were and what they offered. In an attempt to rectify this we have invited the other listing services to write a guest post on It’s Not About The Numbers. In this guest post we welcome CraigRat from Geocaching Australia:

First off, I’d like to thank INATN for letting us address the geocaching community!

Our site is Geocaching Australia (http://geocaching.com.au), also known locally as G.C.A.

Our site provides forums and geocaching listing services free of charge for everyone, with a focus particularly on Australia and New Zealand (but not limited to these countries). We support a multitude of cache types: The usual caches such as Trads, Multis, Puzzles etc as well as Moveable, Locationless, Virtual, Trigpoint, Beacon (eg Chirp) and Podcache types (and more), plus our own trackables called ‘Swaggies’.

The site also has a large array of statistics and charts based on a multitude of different metrics (way too many to list here!). Some of the other features include:
* Google Earth Feeds
* Excellent Google Maps
* Free GPX downloads with virtually unlimited caches
* Caches along a route search features.
* Cache ratings and recommendations.
* Image galleries for caches and logs
* Twitter feeds of new caches and logs
* Query generator for advanced searches (VERY powerful!)

G.C.A is by far the most feature rich geocaching site on the internet at this time and we strive to keep at the pointy end of things when it comes to features.

Geocaching Australia Battlegraph: Cumbyrocks vs kjwx

G.C.A operates a reviewerless geocache listing system, with some systems in place to (hopefully) catch out bad placements. We have a sizable database of areas in our region where geocaching is banned and we flag that to a cache hider if they try to plant a cache in one of these areas. We also warn if a cacher tries to put a G.C.A cache in close proximity to a cache listed on another site.

Our site strongly discourages cross-listing of caches.

We are the second biggest site in our region and within Australia we have approximately 18% share of all listed geocaches. In my home state of Tasmania there’s a whopping 29% of all geocaches listed exclusively
on our site. We also have caches listed in 17 other countries besides Australia.

Geocaching Australia Plot of Cumbyrocks Finds

We like to try and engage Geocaching application providers to ensure support of our site and our more open GPX format. There are quite a few software offerings  that support our GPX format including:
* GeoHunter and GeoBeagle for Android
* GeoSphere on the iPhone

Our target audience is easy to describe:  ALL cachers!  We like to think we can offer a vibrant and fun caching experience for everyone, and allow people to be creative without arbitrary rules and guidelines to get in the way. Essentially if it’s allowed by law, it’s OK with us!

CraigRat from Geocaching Australia

The site nowadays is primarily developed by myself (CraigRat), based in Launceston, Tasmania and caught@work based in Melbourne, Victoria. We also have an army of dedicated admins to keep the forums and user
signups under control.

Issues relating to the governance of the site are handled by a user elected ‘Senate’ who handle the big decisions such as funding and possible commercial agreements.

The G.C.A site is funded nowadays through community funds and the sale of merchandise through our online shop.

The sites history is long and chequered, but here is a brief (and possibly erroneous) rundown:
* VERY early on in the game there was a merger of some local forums and Ideology’s geocaching website under the geocaching.com.au domain name
* The site ran as forums and had mapping and statistical functions for many years
* In late 2004, Groundspeak archived a cache used to help raise over $11,000 for the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami in our region, causing quite an outcry, which prompted the then developers of the site to start listing their own caches.
* In 2009 G.C.A raised enough funds to move to a dedicated, community owned server, where it remains.

We believe the game is a community based game and the community should be free to mould the game themselves and take it in innovative and unknown directions, without arbitrary restrictions. One set of guidelines derived in Washington do not necessarily fit all regions of this planet!

With regards to Garmin’s new site, we remain healthily skeptical. To us Free and Open geocaching is a way of life, not just a slogan. We will watch with interest to see what develops over the coming year. My personal opinion is that they went live a bit too early which could drive people away.

The real positive thing with Garmins arrival is that it has got people talking about sites other than G.C. This is a good thing as alternate listing sites offer diversity and can only enhance a cachers experience.

2011 will be a very interesting year in regards to alternate listing sites, we are excited!

Thanks CraigRat. Geocaching Australia is awesome!

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