The Underground.

  • 15/10/2013

There’s a saying that goes along the lines of ‘It’s been right under my nose the whole time” and in this particular instance, I’m referring to my feet. I’ve walked all around Brisbane, looking for something new and different to photograph, something not many people have done before me, or will after me. I’ve looked upward to buildings, crouched down low to the grass to see what’s there, and I’ve even turned the camera around toward myself a couple of times, but until recently that’s all but where my search for something new stopped. I was looking in the wrong directions. I then discovered a thing called urban exploration (urbex), and the world before me changed. I started keeping my eye out for all those places your Mum taught you to stay away from; that abandoned house, that rusty fence, the broken window…and the big drain pipe with spiders and uninviting darkness. In my spare time after work, I was researching, I was scoping my neighbourhood and I was doing reconnaissance missions of venues that were likely candidates.

I never thought I’d find myself looking underground for inspiration though, but it happened, many times before writing this blog, and will continue many times after. My friends likely look at me now with quizzical perplexed facial expressions, and silently question my sanity, wondering to themselves ‘Tony what are you doing bro, why go down there?’ The simple truth is, because I can. Life is short, to be enjoyed, and I don’t want to sit idly by watching others enjoy the things that I could do or explore. A major part of that involves me getting out there and going beyond my own expectations and finding inspiration in the weirdest of wonderful places. Turns out venturing six feet under is just one such avenue I’ve encountered that does just that.

You’ve seen glimpses of it in my other blogs (Crazy House, Butter Factory), but for this blog I’m talking about going down man holes and drain pipes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle style. Within, or rather below Brisbane is a plethora of underground drains, a system so intricate and intimate that besides the men who built them many years ago, only a handful of people have had the pleasure of witnessing. Some are old and built in brick, creatively manufactured inverted tear drop tunnels. Others perfectly circular, or rock blasted. Then there are the modern concreted circular drains too. Some drains are an amalgamation of them all, fluctuating between man made and natural, the deeper in you go. Exploring these places, has been done well before my time (the graffiti with years etched into the walls is testament to this), and will continue many years to come. It’s a whole new world down there. These places, through my Internet research, have revealed a cult like following. Throughout the entire world are ‘cave clans,’ groups of people who pride themselves on exploring the world from a different angle, underground the citi

es they live. The first person to discover a new drainage system is given the privilege of naming it. Very diplomatic and ‘NASAesque’ with asteroids. These individuals pride themselves on keeping these locations private for the next person to discover themselves. In this blog I shall honour their code, and keep their locations sacred, but will reveal their names as I have come to know them. No, no I won’t. I can’t make it that easy for people. If I found them, so can you. That’s where the fun is to be had, the self discovery!

Above ground is the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The cacophony of a chaotic busy lifestyle built on the foundation we stand on today. Below that, underground, harbouring critters, spray painted works of art, and me, spinning my steel wool, is another world, a place where I’ve had the pleasure of exploring only segments of. Ladies and gentleman, the Brisbane underground…

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For more photos, past and present, join me over at Instagam: @tonnes

Butter Factory.

  • 14/10/2013

Akin to some of my other blogs I’ve written which allude to a recently discovered pastime, this one is no different. Essential ingredients typically include: 1 x SLR camera, a dash of mystery, a sense of adventure, and a venue that is either abandoned and derelict above ground, or underground where only a handful of people have visited. Today’s main ingredient; butter! Well what’s left of one, a factory that is! This was one of those recipes that when you start out in the kitchen with the idea of a fried egg you end up making an omelette and an English breakfast.

I was travelling north of Brisbane for work, and had planned on having an early night beforehand so that I could wake up even earlier and attempt some star trails before arriving at my actual destination (rural areas away from the city are the best for star trails, but I’ll save that for another blog). I misjudged sunrise and the amount of driving that I needed to get to work on time. The sun was coming up; I’d missed my chance for any star trails. Instead of sunrise photographs (I was an hour early to work and needed some form of motivation for the early rise), I remembered reading about a Butter Factory earlier in the week. It was as though I was meant to visit it instead. I recalled the Butter Factory at the precise time it was neccessary to; within 10 seconds the turn off for it along the highway was right in front of me. I made a swift detour from my normal work route, and headed toward my new destination, my english breakfast. I knew the town, but didn’t know its precise location. I eventually found it tucked away in a side street having stopped and asked a couple of locals for directions (I may be male, but I don’t care to ask for directions if I am able to arrive at my destination).

I drove in down the driveway, passed a few gated barriers with ease, parked my car and strolled right in. It may have been due to it being a rural town, but the security measures were scarce to none. I was pleasantly surprised in fact. I didn’t have long as I was due to be at work 40 minutes later and still had 30 minutes of driving ahead of me, but I did manage to enjoy all the graffiti, spider webs and rusty metal and get a few photos:

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For more photos, past and present, join me over at Instagam: @tonnes

Crazy House.

  • 10/10/2013

I’ve always enjoyed being scared. There’s a sense of immediate self-value when your life flashes before you, or you get a sudden surge of adrenalin coursing through your body. You know the feeling, the one you get when you look over the edge of a building, the one when you drop something of value and quickly catch it again. It’s short, sharp, and in that one moment you’re left breathing deeply, usually uttering a profanity, and then you come back to reality. That’s the best way in which I can describe this photoshoot. I like pushing boundaries and trying something new, so I wanted to try my hand at urban exploration.

Welcome to the crazy house. Please leave your sanity at the door and enter only if you’ve lost your mind. This little adventure was a week in the making. I had scoured the internet for local abandoned buildings and infrastructures that were of a decrepit nature. I had made myself a list, checked it twice, and this was the fist of my foray into the unknown world of yesteryear. I decided that my first abandoned expedition would be solo. Get as much excitement and fear into me as I could. Adrenalin filled adventure with a dash of stupidity perhaps. My first visit was purely reconnaissance. The findings on the internet were dated; I wanted to make sure that I was not getting excited for no good reason. I drove there one Wednesday afternoon, and much to my pleasure saw it wasting away along the river on the hill it had so long called home. Encased in a security fence with trespassing and CCTV monitoring warning signs, I decided that I needed to regroup, recharge my camera, and come back when I was less likely to get caught. I’m all for a photo opportunity, but adding “breaking and entering” or “trespassing” to my clean slate of a record, is something I care to avoid. Patience is a virtue, at least that’s what they say.

I lasted until Friday afternoon. I blindly hoped, that much like my desire to get away from work and start my weekend was akin to the security who patrol the area too – ready to clock off and put their feet up. I recall sitting at my desk, counting down the hours, then the minutes until I could leave and climb through the metal fence and explore. I arrived, parked my car, waited for the coast to clear, grabbed my gear, and quickly entered. Before my eyes, which had slowly adjusted to the sudden darkness from the outside world, was an abandoned, completely gutted building riddled with the history of inhumane moments. The walls told the stories – what it once was, and now what it had become. I was in my element.

At one point whilst inside, I was at the foot of a stairway leading to the second floor. I went up, explored (nothing too exciting), and swiftly returned, closing the door behind me. I stepped 2m away to photograph the corridor, there was no wind, the door was closed tightly (by me), and I heard it. Thump! The door was ajar then closed, and I saw it happen. It made a slamming sound that not only reverberated off the walls of the deteriorating building around me, but it also penetrated deep in me; it made my body jolt, as if something brushed passed me after the door slammed. I’m not one to fear (or really believe in) ghosts, or run away, so I muttered some kind of profanity and that I was there to photograph only, and stayed another 15 minutes. I won’t deny that if I was in my 60’s I may well have needed a change of clothes; that adrenalin I searched for, I sure found. I then waited for the security patrol to pass, and exited.

No ghosts were harmed in the creation of this blog, but now to let the photos do the talking:

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Urban exploration was exciting, death-defying, a little debaucherous and I plan to do more, much more.

In fact it was so exciting I re-visited and did some further exploring. This time it was cut short due to a persistent security guard patrolling the area.

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For more photos, past and present, join me over at Instagam: @tonnes.