ROCK ON: Hunting for hope and happiness
IT'S a simple concept that has created so many smiles as rock hunting continues to grow across the Whitsunday region.
Rock hunting is a free activity where participants paint rocks to be hidden in locations across the local community.
Once hidden, participants post on social media the area they hid the rocks so that other members can find them.
It's a phenomenon that has taken over the world, with parents and children jumping at the chance to express their creativity and for families to get outside and explore.
Nicole Rowan, the founder of the Happy Rocks Bowen 4805 Facebook group said a trip to the Sunshine Coast was the inspiration to start the group in the Whitsunday.
"We went down to see family at the start of the year and my nephew was taking part in rock hunting down there," she said. "My son loved it, and I thought it was such a great excuse for children to be able to express their creativity and explore the world a little, so I decided I would bring it back to Bowen with me.
"The uptake up here has been simply amazing, in two months we've now got over 300 members of the Happy Rocks Bowen 4805 Facebook group and it keeps growing."
What started initially in Bowen has continued to spread across the Whitsunday region with happy rocks now appearing in Collinsville, Proserpine and Cannonvale.
However, it's the benefits that might not be as easy to see that Ms Rowan says is the best thing about the hobby.
"Mental health is such a prominent issue in the Whitsundays, so any free activities that focus on getting out and exercising while enjoying time with family and friends need to be accessible and promoted," Ms Rowan said.
"It's not easy having children sometimes, and this gives them a low cost activity that they can do anywhere.
"The look when a child finds a rock is amazing, they just love it. They can let their creativity shine when they paint a rock as well."
Ms Rowan said that parents have come up and hugged her to say thank you.
"We've met so many people out doing the hobby, it's really opened up our friendship group so much," she said.
With the celebration of International Drop a Rock Day on Wednesday, Ms Rowan says that there is no better time to start the hobby. To find out more, join the Happy Rocks Bowen 4805 Facebook group.
NICOLES TIPS FOR YOUR OWN HAPPY ROCK
1. Use acrylic paint.
2. Don't forget to seal your rock after the paint dries (can get a spray from the local hardware store)
3. Label your rock with your name and 'Happy Rocks Bowen 4805'
4. Hide it!