Shepparton News

On the munzee trail

TAKE YOUR MOBILE PHONE AND YOUR FEET FOR A WALK ‘CAPTURING’ VIRTUAL TARGETS AND SOME EXERCISE

- By Thomas Moir SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2015

The munzees are here, and they’re everywhere! Rob Steer and his son Lachlan are treasure hunters of a different kind. They place and find hundreds of QR codes — called munzees — which they scan with a phone to earn points. A first of its kind munzee event next week aims to open locals up to the hobby, which Mr Steer believes holds tourism and fitness benefits for the region.

The munzees have arrived and they’re everywhere!

You’ve probably walked past one, maybe even spotted one but just not known it.

One of them could be in front of you right now, you might even be sitting on one.

You can place them, you can look for them and you can catch them.

Shepparton’s munzee population now numbers into the hundreds, and one enthusiast believes the mobile game, which incorporat­es the physical world, holds tourism and exercise opportunit­ies for the region. Okay, so what is it? It is a treasure hunt of sorts.

Here’s how it works. You download the Munzee app, and once you load a map of Shepparton you would see hundreds of small, different coloured icons dotted around town.

Each of these represents a munzee — little QR codes hidden under park benches, on brick walls, maybe even on your letterbox (you never know, you could have one hiding in your front yard).

Some play the game by generating munzees, printing them off and placing them out in the world. Others capture them by scanning the codes with their phone and earning points. They get a decent walk around town in the process.

It’s fair to say the popularity of munzees is on the rise. And that it can get very competitiv­e. So says Rob Steer, probably Shepparton’s most enthusiast­ic munzee-er.

With his son, Lachlan, he places the codes on light poles, benches and walls around town and is always keeping an eye out for new ones to ‘‘capture’’. Some participan­ts have been known to travel up from Melbourne just to capture Shepparton’s munzees.

‘‘People will travel a long way just to come to Shepparton to photograph a light pole,’’ Mr Steer explains.

Others collect and place them as a way to get exercise, socialise and sightsee.

Mr Steer collects points each time he places one and for each time he scans a munzee someone else has deployed.

An upcoming

event

Looking for treasure: organised by Mr Steer may open up Shepparton to the game, offer an opportunit­y to get out in the fresh air and participat­e in a fast growing community.

This week, Rob and Lachlan strolled around Victoria Park Lake in search of a munzee or two.

‘‘I think there’s one on the light pole over there,’’ Rob said, consulting the map on his phone.

Hidden within a small safety message, at around eye level, sits a little QR code.

‘‘Ah, we call that urban camouflage,’’ Mr Steer explains knowingly after finding it. He holds his phone up to the code and scans it.

A beep rings out, and the message ‘‘14 points, Mace Munzee’’ pops up on his screen.

‘‘I put them all around the lake,’’ he says.

Some of them, virtual munzees, are even placed inside the lake, Mr Steer explains, which players do not need to swim out to to capture, but rather, move within close proximity of — on the jetty, for example.

Mr Steer geo-cached for many years, but became tired of it. He explains, you could spend hours looking for something that wasn’t even there to begin with, or frustratin­gly, was sitting directly in front of you.

‘‘After five years (of geocaching), I was ready for something new,’’ he said.

So, the much more userfriend­ly Munzees game came along, and Mr Steer gave it a try.

Only in the past year has a

Where’s munzee?: decent following begun to spread in Shepparton.

Mr Steer said about 12 months ago, it was just him and a couple of others who would place the munzees and then capture them.

Now, there’s at least a dozen players locally, with others from nearby towns and cities visiting especially for the game.

‘‘When I know my mates are visiting, I’ll hide another 100,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re trying to encourage locals to get out and get active.’’

Seeing the sedentary living habits of people in Shepparton, Mr Steer explains that by placing munzees he is creating excuses for people to leave their houses and explore, but he is also aware of the tourism opportunit­ies the game makes possible.

‘‘It does get tourists here,’’ he said.

‘‘Some have stayed the night (because of munzees).

‘‘Some have pumped thousands of dollars into it,’’ he said.

The driving factor for many enthusiast­s is scoring points, meaning Melbourne munzee hunters earn value for capturing new, foreign ‘‘Shepparton munzees’’.

Or, if you’re the first to collect a munzee, you receive a virtual badge.

‘‘People want to collect every badge available,’’ he explains. Part of the interest for Mr Steer is in the way the game incorporat­es the real world with the virtual world.

And, while hundreds are already placed around the city, there’s always room for more, Mr Steer said.

‘‘We want to grow area.

‘‘Once there’s a strong munzee community, people will come.

‘‘(They might say) ‘Do I go to Shepparton or Bendigo for a Munzee day?’.’’

Next Sunday, December 13, Mr Steer is hosting one of Shepparton’s first munzee events, starting at 10.30am at Victoria Park Lake.

There will be a release of limited edition munzees there, only available to capture during the event: special icons, with a unique Shepparton feel, he explains.

He encourages people looking for a new hobby, or anyone really, to come along and get an introducti­on to the world.

‘‘Get some exercise, get some sun, explore the neighbourh­ood,‘‘ he concludes.

‘‘A good day is having a nice walk and capturing lots of munzees.’’

the ● Visit calendar.munzee.com for full details of ‘There’s noel in Shepparton’

A GOOD DAY IS HAVING A NICE WALK AND CAPTURING LOTS OF MUNZEES.

— ROB STEER

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 ?? Pictures: Holly Curtis ?? map on their phone.
Lachlan and Rob Steer search for Shepparton’s munzees by following a
Pictures: Holly Curtis map on their phone. Lachlan and Rob Steer search for Shepparton’s munzees by following a
 ??  ?? A ‘Topaz’ munzee and a ‘treasure map’ of sorts, showing where some of Shepparton’s munzees are located.
A ‘Topaz’ munzee and a ‘treasure map’ of sorts, showing where some of Shepparton’s munzees are located.

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