HUNTING for rocks might not sound like a thrilling activity, but the modern-day version of hide and seek has rapidly gained popularity in the Hunter.
This week, a two-day Easter rock hunt will be held at Speers Point Park.
Hundreds of Easter-themed handprinted rocks will be "dropped" in the area prior to the inaugural event on Wednesday and Thursday (April 17-18) organised by a group of Lake Macquarie rock hunting enthusiasts.
The activity, which started in the US as a way of spreading happiness in the community, has taken off in Australia where there are Facebook groups in every state.
Janelle Jobson, of Macquarie Hills, joined the NSW Rocks Facebook group seven months ago.
She found a colourful handprinted rock during an outing to Warners Bay Markets, which instructed her to post a picture of her discovery on the Facebook group.
The idea is the original owner of the rock will see their rock has been found, which the new owner can either keep or rehide.
"I looked up the Facebook page and loved everything I read and saw," Jobson says.
"Seeing the photos of the kids with the rocks they had found and how happy it made them, I thought I would like to give it a go.
"I am more of a painter and a dropper than a hunter. My children are all grown now, so it brings me so much happiness to see people's reactions when they find them.
"Sometimes they will add a comment with the photo and say 'I was having a really bad day and I've found this rock, and it has really lifted my spirits'.
"It's special. My tiny little rock has made someone's day and, even just for a minute, made them smile."
The rocks, which are usually small, flat decorative stones bought at nurseries and hardware stores, are painted and sealed, then hidden in a public space (usually parks or playgrounds).
A picture of the rock is uploaded to the NSW Rocks Facebook group, with clues pointing to its position.
Rocks from NSW have turned up in all over: on top of petrol bowsers, inside a freezer at Woolworths, and on a ski lift at Thredbo.
Some make their way overseas.
Rocks originally hidden in NSW have been found on the monorail at Florida's Disneyland, and even as far as Siberia.
Maddy Sen, from Campbelltown, created the NSW Rocks group in 2017 to create an activity that would encourage kids to get outdoors.
It now has almost 30,000 members.
For the past few weeks, Jobson has dedicated her time to hand-painting 70 Easter-themed rocks for the Easter rock hunt at Speers Point Park on April 17 and 18.
"It's like the good old-fashioned Easter egg hunt, but with rocks," Jobson says.
"There will be people coming and going for the two days - some will drop and some will hunt. If all goes well, it should be very continuous with rocks being hidden and rocks being found."
One of the event organisers, Shari Chapman, is another rock hunting devotee.
The Belmont North mother-of-two estimates she has painted around 300 rocks since she became active in the NSW Rocks group two years ago.
Once a fortnight, she heads out with her children Elodie, nine, and Gage, seven, for a rock drop and hunt.
She enjoys the creative aspect of it and spending time painting rocks with her daughter.
The family's rocks have travelled as far as Queensland and they have a collection en route to Uluru with another family who took a bunch of the Chapman's creations on a road trip to the Red Centre.
"They are dropping them along the way on their trip to Uluru," Chapman says.
"I have never been there, but now my rocks have. It's pretty incredible."
And, as Chapman points out, you never know when a rock might pop up again.
"One of Gage's rocks that we dropped two years ago was found in King Edward Park last week," Chapman says.
"He was so excited: "That was my first rock!".
Bunnings at Boolaroo is jumping on board to host Easter rock painting sessions on Saturday and Sunday (April 13-14) from 10am to 12pm, and 12pm to 2pm (bookings essential).
Be warned though: it can become addictive. "It is addictive. I find myself, no matter where I am, glancing around for rocks," Jobson says with a laugh.