Melbourne University Mathematics and Statistics Society

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Press Release

13 September 2004

Mystery puzzle hunt could yield

$200 of buried treasure

A $200 cash prize is hidden somewhere underneath the grounds of the University of Melbourne, and an open-to-the-public "puzzle hunt" to find the buried treasure starts today, with the solutions to daily puzzles providing clues to the secret location.

The Mystery Puzzle Hunt is an event organized by students from the Mathematics and Statistics Society, to help celebrate Maths Week, which begins today (13 September).

The Society's President and Vice President, Damjan Vukcevic and Julian Assange respectively, say the Mystery Puzzle Hunt is modelled on the famous MIT Challenge, and has been designed to have broad public appeal.

"The hunt is not maths-centric at all because we want students, staff and anyone who is interested to get involved" explains Mr Vukcevic. "Instead, competitors need to use problem-solving skills, lateral thinking, broad general knowledge and teamwork to be first to work out where the treasure is buried".

"We're really trying to show people that maths and stats is not only about numbers and formulas. On a larger scale, it's about thinking clearly and deeply to try to solve a problem," says Mr Assange.

The Puzzle Hunt commenced this morning with the first puzzle released on the website. Over 100 teams are already hard at work trying to solve the puzzle, leading them closer to the highly desired $200 haul.

But all is not lost for would be puzzlers. Mr. Assange says that the hunt is designed so "you can enter as late as Friday and still have an excellent chance of winning".

The organisers explain that the puzzles range from very easy to "demonically" hard, with two to three puzzles released daily, and hints to the previous days puzzles released from day two, until the puzzles are easy to solve. They include cryptic crossword style leadins with visual, situational and decoding type puzzles.

Anyone can join, either in a team or solo, and competitors may consult their brainy friends, the Internet or any other source. Nor do competitors need to be onsite or even in Melbourne; if off-site competitors win, a proxy will be able to dig up the prize on their behalf.

A $200 cash prize will be awarded to whoever finishes the hunt first, with supplementary prizes going to the next two teams or individuals with the highest scores.

The narrative of this year's Puzzle Hunt uses the forthcoming federal election as its principal theme. In a moody scenario, the PM goes missing after giving a secret speech to physicists at the University of Melbourne, and all the clues lead puzzlers to find out what has become of a "vaporised" Mr. Howard.

To find out more about the Melbourne Uni Puzzle Hunt visit the website (where the daily puzzles are being released) at:

Or contact the Maths and Stats Society's:

Julian Assange (Vice President) or Damjan Vukcevic (President).

Email: mums at

Phone: (03) 8344 3385