‘Technology? Hah! Try finding buried treasure using your GPS’ – Richard Glover

I recently came across an opinion piece on the Sydney Morning Herald site by Richard Glover titled ‘Technology? Hah! Try finding buried treasure using your GPS

It was a great little article that professed the value in using maps, rather than relying on GPS.

More importantly, you never get to study the map; to be enticed by other possibilities. And you never get to see your progress across the map; to understand how the town you’re heading for relates to the river on this side or the mountains on that.

I completely understand this as I love looking at maps. But the title and the following section really hit my geocaching buttons.

In Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson talks explicitly about the way a map engages the imagination, pulling you down into an undergrowth of daydreams. Jim Hawkins is sitting by the fireplace in the housekeeper’s room, brooding over the pirate map of the island: “I explored every acre of its surface; I climbed a thousand times to that tall hill they call the Spy-glass, and from the top enjoyed the most wonderful and changing prospects. Sometimes the isle was thick with savages, with whom we fought, sometimes full of dangerous animals that hunted us.”

Try that with a GPS.

I read that and thought – but that’s what I do every weekend! (and most days during the week 😉 ).

So, despite my brain telling me to just leave it, I thought I would write to Richard and introduce him to the wonderful world of geocaching.

Dear Richard,

I recently stumbled across your opinion piece on the Sydney Morning Herald website titled “Technology? Hah! Try finding buried treasure using your GPS

It was a great read and I agree that there is great value, not to forget a level of romanticism, in the use of maps. However, the title of your piece (which I assume was produced by some witty sub-editor) and reference inside the article about not being able to find treasure with GPS motivated me to point out that you are incorrect.

There is a worldwide GPS activity called geocaching where you literally use GPS units to find hidden treasure. And yes, you can even find pirate treasure

What is particularly brilliant about this activity is that, like studying the map and being enticed by other possibilities, you get taken to places you have never been and would likely have never gone. Have a go yourself and I’m sure you’ll agree!


Peter (aka Cumbyrocks)

And just after I pressed the send button, the voice of the cool kid inside me screamed “Nooooooo, you’ve become one of those letter-writing people. You’re one step away from writing letters to the editor!”.

Sadly, for the cool kid I keep snugly trapped away, I thought that sounded like a great idea.

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