I’m sitting on a backlog of recent explorations that I can’t put online yet because the time isn’t right. Naming the locations prematurely puts them at risk and I try where possible to wait until the right time. So, in the meantime, here’s a look at a recent misadventure:
Usually, my exploring is planned in advance. Countless hours spent researching, studying maps and aerial images, following leads and driving around. Once a location is found I skirt the perimeter, look for tell-tale signs of life, look for access points, check the neighbours and plan the least obvious spot to park. I’m rarely impulsive these days and I rarely bother with the obvious main road locations. The good stuff is hidden away and is generally worth the effort required. I love travelling away from home too. Security is different in rural areas – it relies more on locals looking out for each other than alarms and CCTV. Strike up a conversation with some friendly locals and they’ll often open doors for you. The main difference between country locations and metropolitan locations is the increased likelihood of having a shotgun in your face if you do the wrong thing.
Regardless of the location, I always start with a reconnaissance trip. For those more remote locations, I wait until there are a cluster of stars marked on my map and then travel a few hundred kilometres from home to take a closer look. Hopefully, I come away with a couple of places worthy of a return trip. It’s a serious time commitment and partly why I’m generally unwilling to hand locations out on a silver platter to those who ask.
It was on one of these recent reconnaissance trips that I ended up here. I had this location marked on my map for a while. It looked intriguing from the air but I also knew from Google Maps that there were neighbouring properties on either side. The property was heavily overgrown with multiple dilapidated buildings on site. A former meatworks, it looked as though it had been used for storage for a period of time and then left to rot. I parked a kilometre or so away and hiked in. I found a gate wide open at the front of the property and walked on in. I bypassed the front of the site and headed straight for the buildings at the rear of the property. I always start from the back and work forward or from the top and work down – that way, if your explore is interrupted, you leave with some images rather than none.
I worked quickly, taking what I deem “reconnaissance shots” rather than more carefully considered images. After having been inside for an hour or so, I came to a room that was quite open and exposed at the front. This room differed from the others in that a number of items stood in contrast to their surroundings. This didn’t feel right. From all other indications the property was abandoned. The presence of these items indicated some level of use – or habitation. Feeling my time was up and having gathered enough info to suggest a return visit was warranted, I hurriedly packed my gear and retraced my steps through the complex. As I rounded a corner into the former slaughter-floor a shout rang out. A large bearded man stood in the doorway, a can of Melbourne Bitter in one hand and a shotgun held casually in the other. Here, amongst the detritus and decay, resides one rather pissed off caretaker…
Needless to say, I may never get back inside for that planned return visit. So, here’s a handful of reconnaissance shots for the record.