Tas Rocks Launceston strengthens community

VOGUE: Tas Rocks organiser Greta John of George Town, with her children McKinley and Sofia Barber, pictured at City Park. Picture: Phillip Biggs
VOGUE: Tas Rocks organiser Greta John of George Town, with her children McKinley and Sofia Barber, pictured at City Park. Picture: Phillip Biggs

An updated version of hide-and-seek mixed in with scavenger hunting is taking Tasmania by storm.

Tas Rocks is now a community with almost 16,000 people dedicated to distributing hand-painted rocks distributed throughout Tasmanian parks for children to find, and then hide elsewhere.

The initiative was started by friends and mothers Kaz Searle and Greta Barber.

Ms Barber first launched the Tas Rocks Facebook page after seeing a similar group in Western Australia.

She had used craft and paiting rocks as a way to heal after the brutal murder of her father in South Africa.

Now she is using her story to help others.

“Because I've been brave enough to tell my story and I like to connect with people I get regular messages from people thanking me for being so brave and authentic to tell my tragic story,” she said.

Ms Barber said she has been touched by the members of the group, who after speaking to her, feel safe to share their stories, and how Tas Rocks is helping them overcome their depression, anxiety or agrophobia. 

“A mum told me about her daughter that has developmental difficulties and wouldn't climb the climbing frames in the park. Now she does for the first time at  age 5. She is, because she is hunting for Tas Rocks,” Ms Barber said.

“We have adults who don't like to go outside now facing their fears and it’s helping them to socialise with their own families more.”

There are also some members who can’t have their own children and have enjoyed being able to paint rocks for others to find, she said.

“A woman gave me a massive hug and held on tight just to say ‘thank you’ and ‘you don’t know how much you have done for the community by introducing this to Tasmania’,” Ms Barber said.

“This is my favourite part. My father would be so proud and it all comes from his tragic death. I knew I had to make sure his senseless murder wasn't in vain.”

The group has recently held a flash mob rock drop in Hobart and will be hosting a similar event in Launceston on Monday.

Ms Barber said acrylic paints and permanent markers were the best medium to decorate and put new rocks into circulation, but more detailed advice could be found on the Facebook forum.

At time of writing there are 15,960 members of the group. According to Facebook analytics, of those, 14,000 are active members, meaning they regularly comment, post, like or share on the page.

Ninety per cent of the group are women and 66 per cent of people in the group are aged between 25 and 44.