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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

The Fate of A349

AUSTRALIA | Wednesday, 1 May 2019 | Views [80]

Flight A349 has crashed and there's a lofty task ahead. It's my job to figure out where it crashed and recover the cockpit voice recorder (CVR). The doomed plane would have gone down anywhere in Victoria so it's a very large search area. The black box pinged a while ago whilst I stood on the Princes Bridge in the Melbourne CBD, indicating it was 59 km away but I had no idea what direction. From there, my work was cut out. Using my compass, I drew a circle with a 59 km circumference on a map of Victoria and marked it. A quick visit to Geelong would help me narrow down the search area, as another ping would indicate the recorder was 26 km away. With another circle on the map, I narrowed down the search area to two places. My options now were down to either the Bellarine Peninsula or the Brisbane Ranges (not to be confused with the city of Brisbane). With a CSer named Levi I'm staying and that's my base of operations to find this doomed flight. 

Levi's name is pronounced like the jeans, but I don't think I've worn jeans since 3rd grade; they make me itch. Humorously I told him I prefer Dickie's (crew pants) to Levi's. He and his girlfriend had a long-planned camping trip to Cape Otway planned, and he dropped me at a convenient hitchhiking spot where two lifts would get me to the Brisbane Ranges. Supposedly you can see koalas and other wildlife here and the area is beautiful. The aircraft's black box would ping again, indicating I was less than 2 km away but I had to be prepared to walk. As a connoisseur of the Mayday TV series, I know that finding a black box is no easy feat. Search teams have had to scour the ocean floor, the bottom of rivers, and dense rainforests for the CVR. Stocked up on water, fruit, and muesli bars, the weather was lovely today. Though not even an hour away, the Brisbane Ranges are a world away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne. 

 

After a couple of wrong turns, I finally found the CVR of Flight A349! 

I still wonder how they get their name even though they're orange. As you may have guessed this is no ordinary black box: it's a geocache. I set myself a goal last year to find all of the geocaches within the Melbourne CBD and in particular, those with starting coordinates along the Yarra River without regard to how difficult they'd be. Flight A349 was the final of these. Some the caches were a simple matter of walking up, finding it, and signing the logbook but others required an adventure. One cache involved me hitching a lift with a rowing instructor, another required a multi-day trip to Sydney, and yet another required me to solve a tricky puzzle and then borrow an instructor's kayak to grab the final. 

After being victorious with the finding of Flight A349's CVR, I went in search of other caches and then it started to rain. The forecast stated there'd be scattered showers but nothing more. I eventually made my way out to the main road but traffic was light and my feet were sore. A local would drop me in the dark in the tiny community of Anakie. From there, it was bad news: a massive torrential downpour with thunder and lightning, and the only structure to stand beneath being metal. Lightning is one thing I love to watch but hate being in. A story I've shared with very few people is how I was nearly struck by lightning as a child. I went for a bike ride when the weather was lovely and then it started pissing down rain to go with lightning, and as I was racing home a bolt hit the ground only about 10 metres in front of me! What probably saved me is that I was on rubber tyres with my hands on rubber handle bar grips. Getting frantic with my torch out, a guy named Dean with his dog was driving to Geelong and would stop to pick me up. Laughing, I said "this is much more than scattered showers" and then he stated his parents would be happy that their rainwater tanks are being filled. 

Upon returning to Levi's home, a cuppa felt as great as when I was in Antarctica. Ahhh, the adventures of geocaching! I didn't see any koalas today but had a lovely walk to go with some interesting geocaches on another adventurous day.  

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