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Found 175 results

  1. A one-minute insight into my lunch break.
  2. History The Miramar Peninsula, which is located on the south-eastern side of Wellington, has a rich and especially fascinating underground history. The area is perforated with many coves and caves, and even more interestingly old military bunkers that date back to the late 1800s. However, information about these subterranean worlds is quite often fragmented or simply non-existent. What is known, though, is that for many years the peninsula was occupied almost entirely by the military, until 1907 at least when the northern section of the peninsula was linked to the rest of the city by tram. The peninsula has always been an important component in the defence of Wellington; its very name, Miramar, means ‘sea view’ in Spanish. The strategic position of the land was thought to be ideal for the construction of observation posts, coastal guns and emplacements. These were installed to prevent the approach of Russian enemy warships and subsequent attacks. Further additions to Wellington’s defence were made between 1933 and 1960, when Palmer Head was selected as the site for a new battery. Guns were installed in 1936 and by the outbreak of World War II it was operational, although not at full efficiency because some facilities had not yet been constructed. One of the fundamental problems was accommodation; however, this was eventually resolved with the erection of temporary huts. These were later replaced with more substantial buildings. A radar station was the next facility to be added to the installation in 1941 and remnants of this can still be found today. Later in that same year, following the completion of the radar station, it was decided that the site would be expanded once again. This time secret underground military plotting and wireless rooms were to be constructed. The development included the construction of an access road, an access tunnel, two plotting rooms, an engine room and two wireless rooms. Only two entrances for the secret facility were built, one to the north and the other to the west. Palmer Head was decommissioned in 1957, along with every other battery in New Zealand. The advent of air warfare and the threat of a nuclear apocalypse rendered these outdated forts redundant. Nevertheless, the guns were not removed and scrapped until 1961. Thereafter a widespread demolition exercise was put into effect. The original idea for Palmer Head was that it would become a new housing estate, and preliminary plans were drafted. In the end, though, the land was never actually set aside for this development. It was decided that the project could not go ahead due to the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) facilities in the area. Despite the rejection of the development project, the demolition plans for Palmer Head still went ahead and it was dealt with in two phases. By the end of 1970 most of the Palmer Head site had been reduced to rubble. As for the old plotting rooms and wireless rooms, though, they were never destroyed because they lay inside a fenced-off compound owned by the CAA. It is reported that for many years the old ventilation ducts to the rooms were left exposed and they were not buried until the 1990s, when several alterations were made to the compound. The Moa Point Radar station at the top of the hill also survived as it was being used by the CAA in the 1970s. Today, the forgotten secret rooms are once again accessible; although, finding the hole in the hillside is no easy task. Our Version of Events It was almost time to leave Wellington and head off in search of more abandoned places elsewhere in New Zealand, but as we had a little bit of time left on the last evening we set out to get one final explore done. Thanks to a young wizard who goes by the name Zort, we’d received word of some old plotting rooms deep inside a hillside somewhere on the Miramar Peninsula and they sounded particularly interesting. A good old historic underground explore would be a perfect way to end the trip. We drove as close to the site as was possible, but had to ditch the car and walk the rest of the way. So, armed with our cameras and torches, we entered the bush. For the most part, we were walking blindly, not quite sure exactly where the tunnel entrance would be. But it was good fun and we spotted a fair few wētā along the way. In the end, we actually came across the way into the underground rooms a lot quicker than we’d expected. For once there was a minimal amount of fannying around, so everything went smoothly much like a well-oiled machine. Getting into the rooms was, as we’d expected, a tight affair. Basically, if you have any Christmas padding around the midriff, or aspire to be a Hercules lookalike, you’re not getting into this site. With that in mind, we crawled flat on our fronts for a fair few metres until the tunnel gradually widened enough to kneel. From there we had to scramble down a pile of rubble and drop into a long concrete corridor. At this point we could stand up straight and see, quite clearly, that the only way we could go was forwards. So, we followed the tunnel and passed a few empty rooms to the left and right of us. One of these looked like it might have housed the engine at one time. As for the others, it was impossible to tell what their original purpose was. At the end of the corridor we found two larger rooms that were connected by a small window and a left-hand turn. We explored each of the rooms which have a few bits and pieces metal lying in them, and then made our way back to the corridor which turned out to be flooded in the next section. It wasn’t too deep to begin with, but the further we went the higher it got. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant pool of water either; it was slightly green and stale looking. Eventually, we reached the limit of our gumboots (wellies) and couldn’t quite reach the end of the tunnel where there was a large metal gate and more rubble. This forced us to turn back the way we came. After that we faffed around for a while trying to do a bit of light painting, before we finally decided it was beer O’clock and time for some food. To get back out we returned to the pile of rubble and, once again, suffered the tight squeeze back through sand, rubble and concrete. Explored with Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16:
  3. History The year is 1918 and the cold, motionless, body of Michael Dravitzki is being moved into the New Plymouth hospital morgue. His small frame is covered with a white sheet. It is believed the young boy has fallen victim to a very potent strain of the Spanish influenza virus. The medical staff at the hospital are overwhelmed with the increasing number of patients who are suffering from headaches, sore throats, breathing problems and high fevers. Many fear for their own lives as, day after day, patients and staff begin to dribble red froth from their lips and fall into a state of unconsciousness. Once this happens it is not long before each of their faces gradually darken purple, and then brown before they finally die. Many of the patients had been in good health and going about their everyday business only hours few hours ago, but now they are gravely ill; no one has ever seen anything like it before. To help contain the deadly virus and free up beds for those who desperately need them, the dead are swiftly removed from the hospital, to join the young boy, Michael. There is mass panic spreading throughout the facility and New Plymouth as people fear today could be their last; in many ways, the fear is just as potent as the virus itself. Despite the odds, however, Michael lived (up until he was 89 in fact), along with many other New Zealanders. An elderly lady whose job was to assess the bodies in the morgue later discovered that he was still breathing. All in all, though, 8,600 died from the virus (of those 2,160 were Maori). It is thought that the severe form of influenza arrived on the Royal Mail liner Niagara on the 12th October 1918. According to witnesses, even though there were several cases of the influenza on board, two key figures, Prime Minister William Massey and his deputy, Sir Joseph Ward, refused to be quarantined. Therefore, the ship is said to have docked in Auckland and this led to the subsequent release of the virus. However, alternative sources suggest that the case of influenza on board the ship was assessed by health authorities as being ‘ordinary’ and the same as that which already existed in the city, and that Massey and Ward took no part in making quarantine decisions. They argued, instead, that it was the war that caused the deadly pandemic. Yet, regardless of the conflicting stories and the uncertainty about the true cause, one thing is certain and that is that the pandemic that hit New Zealand was very real. Barrett Street hospital in New Plymouth – the major city of the Taranaki Region – played a major role in trying to treat the unfortunate victims of the outbreak. In point of fact, Barrett Street Hospital had originally been built in the 1860s to tackle increasing cases of typhus fever, scarlet fever and diphtheria in New Plymouth. It is for this reason the facility became one of the largest in New Zealand; it had more, equipment, suitable medical supplies, beds and staff to take care of patients. In the end, the hospital treated thousands of people and managed to save a large proportion of them. Of the 81,000 people in the area, only 635 died between October and December 1918. The number of fatalities could have been considerably higher without the hospital and its dedicated staff. After the flu pandemic, Barrett Street Hospital continued to grow and serve the general public. The first major addition to the site was a home for the nurses. This was constructed in 1905; however, another storey had to be added a year later because it was not large enough to accommodate the expanding staff. By 1916, though, the standards in the nurses’ home were deemed wholly inadequate and substandard. This resulted in a new accommodation block being constructed in 1918. The history on the nurses’ home, which still stands today, can be found in a supplementary report. Following the successful construction of the new onsite accommodation, the hospital expanded further as new offices, an out-patients block, a dedicated children’s ward and a tuberculosis ward were added to the site. Nonetheless, the ‘glory days’ at Barrett Street Hospital were numbered. In 1950 the Hospital Board revealed plans for a new, larger, hospital that would be located in Westown, as the existing site could no longer be extended due to the detection of unstable foundations. The hospital very gradually wound things down for the next forty-six years, and, in the end, the original hospital did not actually close until 1996; only by the end of the twentieth century was it completely empty of medical supplies and equipment and sold to the Government for $1 million. It was reported that many people, including staff and nearby residents, were sad to see the eventual closure of their historic centre of medicine. But, many of those people did also admit that the old hospital was getting too old and worn, and that the corridors and wards were too large which meant finding your way across the premises entailed a considerable amount of walking. Surprisingly, though, despite these unpopular features, new life was injected into the hospital as a number of legal (New Plymouth School of Gymnastics and Carrington Funeral Services) and illegal (squatters) tenants moved in. The year is 2012 and several heavy knocks coming from the front door have woken a group of squatters. Bleary eyed and slightly hungover from last night’s cans of Tui, several squalid-looking individuals take a minute for their surroundings to come into focus. Most of the windows have been shattered and the glass is strewn over the floor. A mixture of psychedelic colours sting their eyes as they struggle hard to open them. It’s the graffiti, which mostly consists of scruffily written names in red and green spray paint that is scrawled over all the walls in the room. One of the group coughs, retching as the taste of beer and vomit suddenly rises and stings the back of her throat. The glass on the floor crunches loudly as she struggles to stand up right. Three more heavy knocks ring out loudly throughout the room, followed by a loud, authoritative, voice. “Come on, open up. We know you’re in there. We’re Ministry officials, open the door!” The door opens and the Ministry officials enter the foul-smelling room. The hospital is to be evacuated. According to recent surveys, the entire site has been deemed earthquake prone. In addition, a large amount of asbestos has been discovered throughout the premises, making it extremely dangerous to enter any of the buildings. One by one the illegal tenants are rounded up and kicked out of the hospital, along with the gymnastic school and funeral company who had been using the old morgue to store their bodies. They are warned not to return, otherwise the police will be called. Just as the officials are about to leave, everyone present is informed that the fate of Barrett Street Hospital is imminent demolition. Our Version of Events Our journey from Midhurst continued up to New Plymouth, where we decided to check out the historic Barrett Street Hospital.It took hours to get there, but bangin’ tunes and beer kept us going. When we finally arrived, the sun was shining and the temperature was twenty degrees, so things were looking good. It was time to get the pasty guns out and set up some tripods and cameras! Looking at the building from the outside, it looked as though it was going to be a right doddle getting inside. We were feeling confident. Several hours later, however, and we were still trying to find a way inside. If anything, we can say we were persistent… In the time we’d been there, we’d already bumped into a group of New Zealand’s equivalent of inbred chavs, two ladies (former nurses) who wanted to gain access to the old nurse’s home and a random guy who was checking out the local attractions as he’d just moved to the area. Perhaps we were a little too confident when we boldly told them, “we’ll find a way inside”, despite the metal sheeting that was covering every possible way of getting into the hospital. In the end, though, we did in fact manage to gain access to the main hospital, after failing miserably to get into the nurse’s site. Access was incredibly innovative and a wee bit ballsy to say the least. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Once inside the good old smell of rot and damp filled our nostrils. No doubt there was a bit of asbestos in there too, spicing the whole experience up that little bit more. Nice and content we’d finally managed to worm our way inside we began the usual activity of walking around aimlessly. When you think about it, it’s a bit weird really, waking around an entirebuilding for no other purpose than to see its rooms and take photographs. Nevertheless, this is exactly what we did, and this led us to discover the largest corridor any of us have ever seen. This thing was fucking massive, and it can be blamed for wasting many of our valuable minutes. At one point, we did think about giving up trying to find the end, but after thinking about it we decided that we might as well reach the other side to tell everyone about what it was like walking down the longest corridor EVER. As you might imagine, it was much like every other corridor. It had lots of adjoining doors, lightbulbs and terrible wallpaper. After walking around a good proportion of the hospital, we came to the conclusion that each of the wards were identical so we decided we weren’t going to get any shots that differed from the ones we’d already taken. In other words, it was all becoming a little samey. With that, we headed for our innovative entrance/exit. On the way, though, we chatted to one another once again about the old nurse’s home, and how it would be a shame to miss out on seeing it. It seemed like it was worth another shot at getting inside, especially since it’s the most historic building on the site and its future is uncertain. As we recalled, although there are talks to try and save it, based on its heritage value, there is no firm plan in place to guarantee its survival. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27: 28: 29:
  4. History Barrett Street Nurses’ Home, which is a two-storey roughcast building, was designed in 1918 by the firm Messenger and Griffths. At the cost of £16,089, it was constructed between 1921 and 1922. It was officially opened on 14th March 1922 by the Minister of Health at the time, Mr. C. J. Parr.Further additions were added by Frank Messenger in 1928, 1936 and 1945. One final part of the building was also modified in 1950, five years after Messengers death. The nurses’ home was one of the many buildings at Barrett Street Hospital that the Messenger and Griffths firm designed; the others include, a doctor’s residence, storage buildings, a children’s ward, the ambulance garage, a laundry block and the Board offices. As indicated in our report of Barrett Street Hospital, in August 2012 the legal and illegal tenants of the Barrett Street site were forced to vacate the buildings with immediate effect due to assessments that had revealed their poor structural integrity. In other words, the entire site was deemed earthquake prone. What is more, the assessment also revealed that there were extremely high levels of asbestos throughout most of the old buildings; therefore, the entire site has been marked as posing a health risk to the general public. As things stand in 2017, demolitions plans are said to be imminent, starting with the removal of asbestos. However, it has been reported that the old nurses’ home, which is now a Category A heritage building, will not be demolished. Having said that, though, no decisions have been made concerning what will actually happen to it. Our Version of Events As indicated in our last report, we’d already spent much time trying to get inside the old nurses’ home and, as far as we could tell, it seemed pretty inaccessible. Nevertheless, after having something of a group ‘lightbulb moment’, we decided to have one last crack and check out a part of the building we’d previously neglected to thoroughly examine. It’s a good job we did have a look there too, because that ended up being our way inside this incredibly historic building. Once inside, it was quickly very obvious that the place was almost completely stripped. Admittedly, this was a little disappointing, but, as we would soon discover, the building had much more to offer in the way of aesthetic features. It didn’t take us long, then, to realise that this building was much different to the rest of the hospital we’d already wandered around. Rather than adhering to a traditional medical-style design, this place was heavily cladded in dark brown wood. The floors, too, weren’t your average concrete base, or plywood; there were solid hard wood boards covering them. The place was fantastic, especially with the lingering smell of the wood in the air, which was a bit like the mouth-watering aroma you get when you bake a joint of ham. Are we all hungry now? Ignoring the sudden craving for ham, we cracked on and made our way through a long corridor towards a sizable wooden staircase. From here building only got better and better. Down on the ground floor we came across several large rooms that reminded us of being inside a traditional English pub, or a fancy teaching college. Take your pick. Then came a large grand hall, the old laundry room and a traditional-looking kitchen. In hindsight, the place could easily become a small museum, not unlike some of the buildings you can find in Beamish. The final interesting feature we uncovered in the building was a strange metal contraption that looked a little bit like an incinerator. In fact, there was one in every single bathroom we’d wandered into. However, we couldn’t be sure they were incinerators, all we know is that we’ve never come across anything like them before. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time left to investigate them too thoroughly as we didn’t have a spanner on hand, and we were rapidly losing daylight. It had taken us that much time to explore the whole hospital, and all of its buildings, that it was almost time to find a pub somewhere in New Plymouth. You can probably guess what we did next, then. With that thought firmly planted in our minds, it was time to pack up the camera equipment and get back to the car. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26:
  5. Tkvarcheli is a town in the eastern part of Abkhazia. During the War in Abkhazia (1992-3), Tkvarcheli withstood an uneasy siege by the Georgian forces. The town's power plant was bombed in the first days of the siege and then shut down.
  6. The property includes the dwelling-house as well as barns. It was inhabited by a couple and their children. The husband already died in 1963. Later, the children left the house, the widow died in the late 1990s. I don't know why the house was never vacated or sold. Were there any inheritance disputes? Or are there no living relatives? Today the condition is so bad - mold, moisture and decay - that the house could no longer be inhabited. Maison H. has long been known in the urban exploration scene. Also my visit was already six years ago. The house is still standing, but it doesn't look any longer like in my photos. Today's condition is sad, a lot of things has changed since my visit. Wardrobes were torn open and its content has been distributed on the floor. Several furnishings were rearranged. And in addition, parts of the ceiling are collapsed now. The attic can no longer be entered - also the wooden chest with the doll heads (pics 36 - 38) was up there six years ago. So, here are my photos from 2011: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39
  7. Akarmara - the former mining town in Abkhazia. After collapse of the Soviet Union and Abkhaz–Georgian conflict it was almost abandoned.
  8. I just put this one together tonight. It's 12 minutes long and is shot in drains (turns around to see auditorium doors swinging shut as last urbexer flees), but hopefully someone watching gets something out of it. WARNING! It's probably not the greatest representation of urbex and it does contain some bum cheeks and some muffled crude language, but most of it is just people having a good time.
  9. A pair of 38 storey skyscrapers unfinished and abandoned since 2008 due to a financial dispute. We had bigger and better rooftops planned than this but sadly they never happened. Anyway this one was pretty cool and it's unbelievable that these structures are completely abandoned. Visited with @Maniac one sunny afternoon. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Looking down on unfinished mall below (Guoson Centre) 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. Thanks for looking
  10. Hi everybody, last summer I had the oportunity to visit Nara Dreamland, a huge abandoned theme park inspired in Disneyland in Japan. In fact, this place has benn demolished, doesn't exist anymore. The workers busted me in the end of the visit, not a big deal but... Sorry for my bad english. The video is in spanish, but you can activate the translator if you want. Cheers to everyone!
  11. I think we all know that: places that we have visited, which no longer exist as a "abandoned place" today. Demolished, destroyed or renovated. They live on only in our memory and on our photos. I have collected here a selection of such places. Maison Heinen (LUX, visited 08/2010) - renovated and re-inhabited - 1 2 3 4 5 Maison Thiry (LUX, visited 08/2010) - demolished - 6 7 8 9 Maison Traufler (LUX, visited 08/2010) - partly demolished, partly renovated and re-inhabited - 10 11 12 13 14 Maison Zahles II aka Maison des Gouttes (LUX, visited 08/2010) - demolished - 15 16 17 18 Villa Lambin aka Maison Rose (BE, visited 03/2014) - demolished - 19 20 21 Tree Mansion aka Maison de Paille (BE, visited 05/2012) - demolished - 22 23 24 Villa Albert (BE, visited 05/2013 - demolished - 25 26 27 28 Villa Hektor aka Maison Champagne (BE, visited 05/2012) - demolished - 29 30 31 32 Maison Denis aka Maison dans la soirée (BE, visited 05/2012) - renovated and re-inhabited - 33 34 35 Chateau PR aka Chateau Clochard (FR, visited 07/2012) - burnt down - 36 37 38 39 40 41 Villa DAS aka Villa Wallfahrt aka Maison de la Croix (BE, visited 08/2011 - renovated and converted into a retirement home - 42 43 44 45
  12. An ad for a recent interview we did. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybU7hLdz9OU Unfortunately due to copyright it's probably only viewable in Australia, however I just thought I'd chuck it on here in case any of you visit Australia in the future or that you may know a way around it (or for any Aussies that are on OS. I've done over 100 media interviews regarding the Cave Clan & this one is unique. It focuses on a few of the artists in the Cave Clan (and me ) It's not the real Cave Clan, it's the grey haired, wrinkly & flabby Cave Clan. Please feel free to share. http://iview.abc.net.au/collection/cave-clan http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b248/DougCaveClan/Mobile%20Uploads/IMG_20170116_104132_636_zpsa76mbnu0.jpg
  13. In 2008 this village was built close to the national stadium to house hundreds of athletes for the Beijing Olympics. Unfortunately due to the level of bad pollution in the city many of the athletes decided to stay outside the city instead so the project was abandoned. Nothing has been done since with the properties although there was a fair bit of activity at one end of the site. The village consists of several streets of villas which look almost finished from the outside but are completely empty inside. There is also a huge club house with four floors and a swimming pool called the Homko Club. Spent a couple of hours here with @Maniacbefore resorting to more ridiculously cheap beer and food, well worth a visit if you're in Beijing. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Some houses were slightly more advanced in their construction but not by much. 6. Looking out from a car garage 7. 8. 9. The Homko Club 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. Thanks for looking
  14. History The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, originally known as the Otago Wool Stores, was built in stages between 1872 and 1885 by notable architects Mason and Wales and R.A. Lawson. The initial project was financed by an American merchant and businessman, Henry Driver, who settled in Dunedin in 1861 and established the Wool Stores company in 1871. The site was selected as the perfect location for a wool store because of its close proximity to the harbour. Although construction of the two-storey building was expected to be swift, progress was delayed due to concerns about the stability of the ground since the foundations would rest on part of the old sea bed. This problem was rectified by 1872 and by 1873 the first part of the building was completed. At the time, the tide would surround it at high water; however, over the years additional land has gradually been reclaimed, so the water’s edge now lies approximately forty metres away from the premises. By 1885 the premises comprised a main warehouse, several offices, a stable and engine house, and was described by many as being ‘the finest building of the kind in New Zealand’. As with other key structures in Dunedin, the main building itself is constructed of stone that was mined from quarries at the water of Leith and the Town Belt. Additional stone for the piers, windows and doors was excavated from quarries at Port Chalmers. As for the roof, it had thirty-nine skylights of rolled plate glass originally, and the remainder of the roof was lined with Bangor slates. Inside, at some point in its early history, a railway gauge was laid through the centre of the building to improve the efficiency of the service area. The tracks allowed goods to be moved to the main railway lines that ran parallel to the main building. A number of trapdoors and hoists were also installed, to move bales of wool between floors. Towards the end of the 1800s, the Otago Wool Stores were taken over by the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, with Henry Driver appointed as the manager of the Dunedin branch. It is reported that the company was ‘a prominent London-based pastoral finance concern’ with links to the Bank of New Zealand and the Colonial Bank of New Zealand. At the time, it was one of the largest companies in New Zealand and one of the key sellers and distributors of wool, grain, animal produce and other stock. Being a London based company also meant that money could be borrowed and distributed more easily. After purchasing the building, the Loan and Mercantile Agency Company altered the design of the premises so that a number of ‘handsome, classically-styled’ offices could be housed inside. During this time the roof was also altered, and a raised saw-tooth design was selected to replace the original skylights and slate tiles. The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company owned the building up until 1961. Following a financial crisis throughout the country, and the fact that there were too many stock and station agents (which were warranted because railways and roads were still being built across New Zealand, and such companies were vital in managing the transportation of goods to and from farms) the company merged with Dalgety, becoming Dalgety & New Zealand Loan Ltd. From the 1960s onwards, Stewart’s Transport purchased and occupied the building. Various alterations were made inside at a cost of $31,000, to create 6,000ft of office space and a board room. The original 100,000 square feet of warehouse space was retained. In later years, the upper storey was let to a clothing manufacturer, Sew Hoy and Sons Ltd., and the ceiling space to an indoor go-karting company who also set up a small arcade in parts of the ground floor of the premises. The go-karting business was the last to vacate the building at some point between 2008 and 2010. Since the early 2000s, though, the building as a whole has fallen into a dilapidated state. One by one its windows were gradually boarded up, and the masonry has started to crumble in several places. Currently, the future of the building remains uncertain; although, there is evidence that some restoration work has been carried out in the last few years. Our Version of Events Dunedin’s a place that’s often described as still being a bit ‘Wild West’. The main shopping precinct, for instance, is found down the main road of the city where there are old-fashioned shop fronts with canopied pedestrian walkways on either side. The chances of catching a train are so slim you’d find it easier to find a horse to ride to the next town or city. And beneath the surface and overall façade, much of the architecture is wooden and very colonial. In many ways then, the former New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company building fits the general theme that’s going on rather well, as it too has a certain Wild West feel about it. So, bearing that in mind, we can continue with the story. It was just before midnight, when two silhouetted riders appeared on the horizon. Their horses whined and reared; they were tired after a hard night of urbexing and in desperate need of rest. Their riders, however, were keen for one last explore, so they spurred their animals forward, towards the remains of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company. Outside the building, the pair quickly dismounted and tied up their faithful steeds: Passing Wind and Mary Hinge. Their boots clanked loudly against the ground as they walked towards a nearby window. Pulling out his six-shooter, Nillskill blasted it three times. Access isn’t a problem when you carry around Smith and Weston Schofields and Winchesters. At this point, though, we should warn new ‘urbexers’ that carrying around such equipment counts as being equipped if caught by the police, so it’s likely you’ll get arrested for breaking and entering. Or worse, you’ll be done for being caught in an enclosed space with ‘tools’. Anyway, back to the story. With the window pane successfully shattered, the pair of dusty desperados climbed through the wooden frame with relative ease. Inside, the building was still. Only the curtain by the window stirred the silence as it flapped in the breeze. Undeterred, however, the pair moved on into the corridor. Their boots resounded on the hard wooden floorboards. But otherwise, the eerie silence prevailed. However, turning the next corner revealed something unexpected. The pair found themselves inside some sort of make-shift saloon, called Rosie O’Greedy’s Bad Time Bar. Without further ado they demanded whisky, and using a deep husky tone advised the bar tender to leave the bottle. Ignoring the no-smoking sign displayed prominently over the bar, Nillskill pulled a small packet of matches from his saddle bag. He withdrew a single match and in one swift motion brushed it against the hard stubble on his face. The match erupted, baring a bright orange flame. Each of the bandits leaned in over the match in turn, using it to light their partagas (strong Cuban cigars, for all those English pipe smoking folk reading this report. I say, what ho! Pip pip). A cloud of thick smoke filled the room. For a while the pair laid down their Nikon D3100s, and other gadgetry, choosing instead to revel in the moment. After several undisturbed moments of smoking, bucket spitting and drinking, a spicy little thing dressed in a black corset and matching suspenders wandered over. Her auburn hair was long and wavy. She walked over to Nillskill and, resting her foot on the base of his stool, started to adjust her stocking. Extending her other arm over the bar, she reached for the ashtray. For a brief moment, she held her cigarette holder above it, until finally she gave it two firm taps causing the ash to fall. She leaned over to Nillskill and whispered into his ear, seductively. The other desperado couldn’t quite hear what she was saying, so had to piece together the information he could hear: ‘upstairs… $18 dollars… whips and chains… handcuffs… bad boy…’. In the end he got the gist of the conversation. All of a sudden, however, before this report could become anymore raunchy, the Wild Bunch burst through the doors of the saloon. Captain Bill, Black Jack, Big Jim, Emmett Tibbs and Indian Joe entered the room. New on the block they were trendy kids who prefer to post video reports. Each of them were wearing ‘proper’ urbex attire: clown masks covered their faces, and they each wore dark hoodies – with their hoods up. Captain Bill spoke first, he seemed to be their leader, while the others hastily updated their Instagram accounts and Twitter feeds. “This urbex ain’t big enough for the both of us, WildBoyz”, he growled. Nillskill spat into the bucket one last time, and pushed the scantily clad whore to one side. She would have to wait until later. As he moved he withdrew his tripod and lobbed it in their general direction. It caught Emmett Tibbs on the side of the head, smashing into his GoPro which, in turn, caused him to stumble. It did no damage unfortunately, and merely served to piss the Wild Bunch off even further. Each of them withdrew their pistols and a shootout ensued. WildBoyz leapt behind the bar, taking cover to avoid the onslaught. Bullets shattered the bottles above them, and liquor splashed and erupted everywhere. A mirror suddenly exploded, covering the sheltering pair in jagged shards of glass. Defending themselves, they returned fire, releasing a volley of rounds toward the Wild Bunch. Emmett Tibbs, the unlucky bastard, caught another blow, this time to his chest. Blood and other essential inside bits of him exploded from his chest. He collapsed knees first, before finally crumpling to the ground in a growing pool of crimson blood. Using Tibbs as a distraction, as Black Jack and Indian Joe were desperately trying to send a Snapchat of the chaotic scene, WildBoyz decided to move. The pair raced towards a nearby trapdoor and hurled themselves inside. Everything around them turned dark as they fell for what felt like an eternity. They hit the ground with a loud crash, but with little time to check for injury continued on towards an empty mine cart. They’d landed in the cellar of the building, and decided that their best means of escape was the old railway network. Above them, as they leapt inside the cart, Captain Bill and his gang fired their pistols and rifles like frenzied wild men. They too were starting to jump into the cellar though, so the two bandits didn’t have long. Nillskill fired a round at a nearby lever and the cart they were in slowly started to move. It creaked and rumbled loudly as it gradually picked up speed along the rusted tracks. Several moments later and WildBoyz were being pursued by the Wild Bunch, who had found a second cart. Bullets and camera lenses whizzed past heads, and sparks sprang from the tracks as the carts flew around tight bends in the depths of the cellar. Aiming his pistol carefully, Nillskill’s trusty partner fired a shot. It caught Big Jim right smack in the face. Jim’s clown mask exploded into hundreds of tiny pieces, along with his face. Despite Jim’s unfortunate end, the Wild Bunch continued their pursuit. With the end of the line in sight, the two desperados needed a distraction to shake the remaining Wild Bunch boys. With some quick thinking, Nillskill, using the flash on his camera to temporarily stun the pursuers, allowed his partner to fire several more rounds and throw a stick of ACME TNT. Unfortunately, all of the rounds missed, but, unexpectedly, Indian Joe caught the TNT. Unsure what the strange sparkling stick was, because he was born and raised out in the desolate plains of Sunderland, where the way of life is more culturally deprived, he mistook the stick for a candle. Captain Bill tried desperately to wrestle the stick from Joe, but he wasn’t having any of it. He smashed Bill squarely on the jaw with the butt of his Winchester lever-action repeating rifle, and sent him tumbling over the side of the cart. Bill screamed, but quickly disappeared from sight as the carts rocketed towards the very end of the track. Only his clown mask hovered in the air for a second, before it too tumbled into the abyss below. Suddenly, an eruption of flame and smoke appeared from the Wild Bunch’s cart. It exploded and sent shards of metal and debris towards WildBoyz. The pair ducked, as a large chunk of railway sleeper sailed across their heads. Behind them, where the second cart had been, lay splinters of metal and wood and the crumpled remains of Indian Joe and Black Jack. Right now, Jack really was was living up to his name. Before they could stare in awe any longer, however, the first cart smashed into a solid wooden barrier – they had reached the end of the line. Both explorers were flung into the air as their cart broke apart. They landed with a crash into a small building at the far end of the cellar. The pair laid on the floor, surrounded by debris and a cloud of dust, until the silhouette of a small man appeared before them. It was Deputy Sheriff Kum Hia Nao. As acting security for the site, he demanded to know what the pair were doing. After explaining that they were there only to take photos, Kum Hia Nao decided to escort them off the premises, making it clear to them both that they were lucky the police hadn’t been called for their wily act of trespass. He did, however, thank them profusely for ridding him of the five clowns that had been taking bondage photos of each other while tied to chairs for the past few nights. Explored with Nillskill. *There may be several slight exaggerations in this version of events. The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27: 28:
  15. Back when you were allowed to be a silly urbex drain explorer. The first call is old school Clan member Wes using the name of founding Clan member Woody. If you have it loud enough you can hear Wes still rambling on even though she has muted him. You may find it hard to believe, but Charley's call is legit It still makes me laugh. "I go fishing in the dams... in my boat!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5OfiP7bPmU
  16. History The construction of Caversham Tunnel, now a disused railway tunnel that was cut through a solid sandstone embankment, began in September 1871 in the Kaikorai Valley. Cutting work began on the Caversham side around the same time, but construction of that side of the tunnel did not begin until March 1872. Both sides were joined in almost perfect alignment on 26th September 1872. The 865-metre-long tunnel was fully completed by late February 1873, and a celebratory dinner was held to commemorate the occasion. The tunnel was officially opened for service by Sir Julius Vogel, the eighth premier of New Zealand (prime minister), in December 1873. A party made the first excursion of the line from Dunedin to the Green Island terminus which was located near the coal pits of Messrs Sampson and Brown. A celebratory luncheon was held in a nearby field on the same day. The first passenger service was run on the line in July 1874, from Dunedin to Green Island terminus. A one-way ticket cost fourpence, while a return-journey cost sixpence. Additional links, such as one to Balclutha via the Chain Hills, were later opened at the end of the 1870s. For the time it was operational, however, the tunnel is said to have claimed a total of three lives. In 1876, a Green Island police constable named Henry Vernon was hit by a train while walking through the tunnel. Later, in 1897, a farmer named Kenneth Kennedy fell from a train while it was passing through. And finally, in 1900 an assistant guard named Robert Burns slipped from the train while moving between carriages in complete darkness inside the tunnel. In spite of the seemingly high mortality rate, the service was used up until 1910, when a larger replacement dual line took over all rail traffic. The replacement line sits a few hundred metres away from the original Caversham Tunnel. Over the next few years the tunnel remained closed to the public and was almost forgotten, until there was a flood in 1923. Unfortunately, the deep cutting and tunnel provided a drainage conduit for the Kaikorai Stream which had burst its banks. As a result, the water was guided straight into the large flat areas of South Dunedin. Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their homes, and many lost valuable possessions. It is reported that drainage issues with the tunnel were addressed at the outset of World War Two, when the tunnel was fitted out as an air raid shelter that could be used by the public in the event of an attack. After the war, ownership of the tunnel passed to the council. It was used during the sixties to lay electrical cables and sewage lines; however, the structure itself has since been left to slowly deteriorate. Lacking any means of proper drainage has resulted in the tunnel filling with thick mud and water, and it is now deemed a dangerous structure. To keep people out, the council erected a barbed wire fence around the Kaikorai Valley side, and a large gate on the Caversham portal. Although there have been talks to convert the tunnel into a pedestrian walk/cycleway, with locals offering to pay for the lighting, all formal proposal have been rejected due to ‘theoretical cost estimates’ and ‘drainage problems’. Our Version of Events After a long night of drinking ale and whisky, we were hungover as fuck as we made our way over to Caversham to seek out the legendary ‘secret tunnel of Dunedin’. According to local legend, the tunnel was said to be nestled among trees and concealed by the motorway. It took a fair bit of faffing around to find the exact location of the tunnel, and a little bit of running along the motorway (thankfully the motorways here are a lot different to European ones). With no footpath and a sharp drop to our right, we had to carefully choose a quiet moment and hit legs. With our vision slightly blurred, and everything swaying ever so slightly, we tried to keep our focus on the white painted line on the road as we jogged. With the taste of ale steadily returning to our mouths, jogging is all we could manage. By the time we reached the entrance to the tunnel, sweat was dripping from us. The post-alcohol effect was in full swing, but we were keen to get the tunnel under our belts. I stood in front of the wire fence and gazed up at the barbed wire fixed across the top for a while. I was waiting for it to stop moving so I could perhaps think about climbing over. The fence was spinning a little bit too, and no matter how hard we held it, it just wouldn’t stop moving. Eventually, though, we managed to get onto the other side. We headed down a set of old decayed wooden steps. They were covered in foliage and, consequently, we stumbled our way down them as some of them had completely disappeared altogether. At the bottom we reached a large number of pipes poking up from the floor, and a small hut just to the left of us. These, as we quickly discovered seemed to be part of Dunedin’s sewage system. Unfortunately, it was at that precise moment we became sober enough to notice the bubble-guts syndrome had begun. We were going to have to make this a quick explore, before nine pints of arse soup demanded to be set free from the trap doors. Stumbling over sewage pipes seemed to bring the sensation on ever more, so it was time to squeeze the cheeks together, tightly. One slight stagger over a pipe or tree root and that would be it. Disaster. Entering the tunnel itself wasn’t difficult from here. But, the reports about the mud certainly don’t exaggerate. The sludge was incredibly sticky and we very nearly lost our boots to it. The floor in the first sections resembled a swamp, and in parts was almost at welly breaching point. It’s was almost as if the sewage pipes were leaking… Things got a little easier further on though, for some of us. With the help of a very handy handrail on the right hand wall, The Mexican Bandit was able to climb onto a ledge of raised mud that seemed to have solidified. Using the slightly rubbery feeling ‘handrail’, which was caked in years of slimy grime, he made quicker progress. He continued like this for quite a few metres, leaving us swamp dwellers far behind, until something caught his eye. Squinting, to properly focus his vision in the dark conditions, he could make out a sign plastered onto the ‘handrail’. It read either ‘DANGER 600 VOLTS’, or ‘6000’. In the heat of the moment, his vision was playing tricks on him, adding zeros to the situation, but he swiftly let go in any case. Apparently wellies are excellent at preventing electrocution, but I guess he didn’t want to test that theory out. For the most part, Caversham Tunnel is a bit samey throughout. It’s a very different style to the railway tunnels we have in England though, so it felt quite unique being all natural rock rather than Victorian brick. There was a small brick section around 400 metres into the tunnel though, and for a very brief moment excitement made the hangover subside. Upon discovering that the brick section was more like an underground bridge, however, disappointment set in and the battle to hold the ale inside ensued once more. There were other interesting features of course, such as the millions of seashells which littered the floor (the swamp ends halfway through, and the remainder of the tunnel is relatively dry). They were all different shapes and sizes, but I have no idea why they were there. The final interesting feature to add to the growing list would be the sewer we found that runs beneath the main passageway. We’d managed to stumble across a semi-broken lid, so decided to have a peek inside to see if there was anything interesting. And behold, there was: Dunedin’s shit floating about right beneath our feet. And to be perfectly honest, whatever you’ve been eating Dunedin, you need to stop… Explored with Nillskill and The Mexican Bandit. South Dunedin Flood (1923) 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14:
  17. Between 1995 and 2016 I've visited Romania twelve times. I was almost in every area of this country - in Transylvania and Wallachia; traveled from the southern Danube in the Banat to the northern Maramures and Bukovina, and from the Hungarian border in the west to the Black Sea coast in the east... During these trips, of course I also have explored various abandoned castles and manor houses. Even if I show a lot here, it's not all that I've visited there… But I just show a mix of well-preserved buildings up to ruins. Some of these buildings are no longer abandoned today (If I know, I'll write the current state in brackets.). Because of the large amount, I write only brief information about the places. The photos are partly already older and / or taken without tripod, therefore the quality isn't always the best. Sometimes I only show exterior shots - because most of the Romanian castles are plundered and empty; some of them weren't accessible either. In advance a short lesson in Romanian: Castelul = castle Conacul / Vila = villa / mansion / manor house Palatul = palace Cetatea = castle (fortress) Herghelie = stud farm 1. Castelul Kornis (emptied and partly collapsed now) Built in 1573-1593, expanded in the 18th century, later used as a school, destroyed in World War II. The only Romanian castle with statues of unicorns that I know (there are two of them in front of it). 2. Castelul Brukenthal (in renovation) Built in 1750-1760, abandoned in 1940 due to a fire. 3. Castelul Banffy (in renovation) Built in the end of the 14th century, expanded in the 17th-18th century, destroyed in World War II. 4. Castelul Bornemissza Built in 1848, later used as a hospital. 5. Castelul Bethlen Built in 1667-1683, later used as school, kindergarten (nursery), prison and champagne cellar. 6. Vila Dobrescu (for sale or already sold) Built in the 18th-19th century, in the 1930s inhabited by a Romanian lawyer and mayor. 7. Castelul Haller (large parts are collapsed now) Built in 1610, expanded in 1704. 8. Cetatea Fagaras (renovated and converted into a museum) Built in 1310, conversion to a fortress in 1538, expanded in the 17th century, later used as military headquarters. 9. Palatul Cantacuzino (has been fenced due to danger of collapse) Built in 1911-1913, destroyed during earthquakes in 1940 and 1977. 10. Conacul Wass Built in the 19th century, later used as a school. 11. Castelul Haller Built and expanded in 1721-1771, abandoned after the extinction of the family. 12. Palatul Spa (demolished now) I don't know anything about its history. 13. Castelul Zsombory (sold) Built in 1892. 14. Casa Orthodoxa The “Orthodox house” was part of a fortified church. 15. Castelul Tholdi (partly burnt down) Built in 1640, later used as orphanage. 16. Castelul Rakoczi-Banffy (re-inhabited) Built in 1664-1669. 17. Castelul Lonyai Built in 1484, expanded in 1630 and about 1850, destroyed in World War II. 18. Castelul Teleky (in use as a barn and storage area) Built in the 18th century. 19. Castelul Teleky-Wesseleny Built in the 18th century. 20. Castelul Pekry (in private use) Built in 1681, expanded in 1732, later used as kindergarten (nursery) and school. 21. Castelul Wass-Banffy (guarded) Built in 1439, expanded in the 16th century, later used as a school. 22. Castelul Konopi Built in 1748, expanded about 1800, expropriated and nationalized in 1948, returned to the owner in 2007. 23. Castelul Karoly Built in 1418, rebuilt in 1730, expanded in 1896, destroyed in World War II. 24. Castelul Karatsonyi Built in 1793, later used as nursing home and orphanage, abandoned in 1989. 25. Castelul Wass (renovated and re-inhabited) Built in the 18th-19th century. 26. Ansamblul Castelului Mikes - Nemes - Beldy Pal (Three small castles and mansions side by side. Partly re-inhabited now, partly in use as a barn and storage area) Built in the 18th-19th century. 27. Castellul Wass-Banffy (partly in use again) Built as a royal summer residence in 1752-55, expanded 1809, later used as a school. 28. Castelul Bethlen (in renovation for a museum) The exact time of its construction is uncertain, but probably in the 16th century. After expropriation used as a storage for artificial fertilizer. 29. Castelul Bethlen-Teleky (in renovation, but it works very slowly) Built in 1625, partly destroyed by fire in 1849. 30. Castelul Apafi / Apaffy (renovated and converted into a museum) Built in 1552-1556, expanded in the 17th century, later used as a school, abandoned about 1990. 31. Vila a primului-ministru (in renovation) Built about 1940 as an apartment for the Prime Minister, later used for military and school, as well as a film set in 1985. 32. Herghelie Homorod Built in 1820-1830, later expropriation, abandoned in 1989. 33. Vila Rosia Montana I don't know anything about its history. 34. Cetatea Losonczy-Haller Built in 1295, expanded in 1645-1652. 35. Conacul Buteni I don't know anything about its history. 36. Conacul Kemeny Built in the end of the 18th century, expanded in the 19th century, later expropriation and used as a company site and storage facility for fertilizers, abandoned about 1990. 37. Conacul Beldy (Should be sold - for over a million euros...! Of course there was no buyer. Most parts are collapsed now) Built in 1880. 38. Castelul Martinuzzi-Bethlen Former monastery, conversion to a castle in 1545-1551, expanded in the 17th-18th century. 39. Cetatea Oradea The oldest parts were built in the 11th century, expanded different times, later used for military purposes. 40. Castelul Kemeny (renovated and today in use as a cultural house) Built in 1805, later used as a school, abandoned in 2005. 41. Castelul Bay Built in the end of the 19th century. 42. Castelul Teleky Built about 1290, expanded in 1850-1859. 43. Castelul Bolyai (most parts are collapsed now) Built in in 15th-16th century, later used as a school, abandoned in the 1970s. 44. Vila Lugoj I don't know anything about its history. 45. Vila Nopcsa I don't know anything about its history. 46. Conacul General Berthelot (renovated in 2010 and now the seat of the Romanian Academy) Built in the end of the 19th century, later used as an agricultural warehouse. 47. Castelul Kornis- Bethlen Built in 1545, expanded in 1650-1660. Later used as a school.
  18. I'm not trying to be trippy with a codename here.. I just don't know the actual name of this place, so we'll go with Hospital H After a lovely trip to Mr. Kelenfold we looked for other stuff in the area - and with the help of a friend we ended up here. We parked up in a rather busy street, and without looking too suspicious one by one, we slipped through a small gap in the wall. We trekked through the forest until we stumbled upon an array of buildings. The first few we entered were completely cleared - nothing photogenic at all, and it's clear work was in progress. We found a wood chipper with piles and piles of logs near by, so we moved onto the next building. The building itself was lovely, beautiful balconies outside but unfortunately another featureless one. We found the remains of a basketball court that was in a rather sorry state, and then moved onto the final building. It seemed weird there was no security about - despite an obvious looking hut with open doors and a plastic chair outside, and then we spotted him directly. We kept our heads down for a while and before long he'd disappeared again so we carried on. Not wishing to trek back through the forest we looked for an easier way out, although as we emerged from the bushes so did Mr. Security man about 20 foot away, so whats best to do? Run! and so we did - across a cleared area with Mr. Security man in tow, and a rather inelegant jump over the main gate concluded out escape.
  19. I discovered this small, but beautiful church while browsing the satellite images of Google Earth. It was built around 1850 and was in use only about 100 years. The church was abandoned by building of a new and larger one, mid-20th century. 1 2 3 4 5
  20. We walk ignoring the gems than some buildings hide. Blinded by their walls, time keep this palace as a shelter of fantasy and dreams. bem-vindo. If you want to see the full set, go to: http://the-lostsouls.blogspot.com.es/2016/09/o-palacio-escondido_28.html
  21. History (Part One) The area where Brisbane is now located was originally discovered by European colonialists in 1799, when Matthew Flinders first explored Moreton Bay. He spent a total of fifteen days there before returning to Port Jackson. Before the area was seized, so to speak, a number of Aboriginal tribes resided in the area; notably the Jagera and Turrbal tribes. It was used as a seasonal settlement area and several camps capable of sustaining between 200 and 600 people would be erected each year, within the vicinity of the good fishing spots. Due to its suitability for farming, fishing, timbering and the potential use of other useful materials, a town was initially built on that land that would, in due course, become Brisbane. The first settlement, however, became a penal colony after free settlers in Sydney petitioned to have their worst convicts sent somewhere else. The first convict colony, led by Lieutenant Henry Miller, was established at Redcliff Point in 1824. However, by 1825 the entire colony was forced to move further south, closer to the Brisbane River – the current site of the Central Business District. The town grew steadily over a number of years, although it remained very primitive. There were no stone or brick buildings, only wooden huts, and the sole link to civilisation was the very occasional arrival of a ship from Sydney, which would dock in Moreton Bay rather than Brisbane River. As the settlement grew it was ascribed the name Edenglassie; a portmanteau of the two Scottish cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow. As expected, the name failed to appeal to those residing there and it was soon changed to ‘Brisbane’, in honour of Governor Thomas Brisbane. The first stone buildings started to appear in 1827/28, with the construction of the Commissariat Store and the Prisoners Barracks. The Commissariat Store, which still exists today, was built using stone quarried from Kangaroo Point, and lime, for mortar, through burning oyster shells taken from Amity Point. The barracks soon became the largest building in the settlement at the time and it had the capacity to hold up to 1000 convicts. The town of Brisbane was beginning to grow at a considerable pace, nevertheless, the colony still remained reputed for being a harsh place to work and live. Among the convicts, and indeed people outside the colony, it was known as a ‘prison within a prison’. Records indicate that in the period between February and October 1828 alone, over 11,000 lashes were inflicted on 200 convicts. Hundreds of convicts were reported to have fled into the bush in the first few years because of the brutal conditions. Although many perished, a few, such as Scottish-born James Davis, managed to succeed at living as ‘wild white men’ among the Aboriginal people. In addition to the threat of punishment inside the settlement, local Aboriginals also attempted to starve out the colony by destroying many of the crop fields. *More on the development of Brisbane’s drainage system will continue in the next report. Our Version of Events As you will have noticed, if you’ve been following some of the other reports we’ve posted from Sydney, much of Australia’s surface level abandonment gets trashed or demolished pretty quickly. That’s not to suggest that there’s nothing out there, they’re just few and far between and many become well-kept secrets. Anyway, having discovered this for ourselves, feeling a little disappointed, we decided to head up to Brisbane where there’s a large draining community, to try our luck exploring something else. Fortunately, we managed to contact a well-known explorer in those parts, who goes by the name of Darkday, and she was willing to meet up with us. So, after accepting her offer we decided to hop on the train and go check out what lies underneath Australian streets. The train journey wasn’t too bad, since all we had to do was sit there and eat Australian cookies, which I seem to have acquired a taste for. At the station we then waited for a car to pick us up. But, not knowing what Darkday actually looked like at that point, we had to poke our head inside random vehicles and simply ask for someone by that name. After a short while Mayhem seemed to get vibe and decided to hop into a car that had just pulled up. I climbed in after him, and after quickly glancing at the people inside, I deduced that they seemed friendly enough. It was only then though, while sat in the back; feeling a little awkward and uncertain that we hadn’t just clambered into some randomer’s car, that I remember to actually check that we were indeed in Darkday’s car… We were, so all was good. We had a good chat with Darkday on our way to the first location, and she explained that this was known as the ‘darkie’ of the city, Brisbane’s classic drain explore; something all major Australian cities have in the exploring world apparently. But, before we could get down and dirty, we were, following typical WildBoyz tradition, quite unprepared for getting wet, so we had to request a quick stop at a Woolworths (good old woollies survives!) to pick up some appropriate-ish footwear. After a quick pit-stop, and a change of shoes, we headed directly to the location. Inside, things were a little different to our drains. For one, the ovoid shape was rather unique. Second, Aussies don’t mind getting wet; they’re not pussies like most of us UK lot with our wellies and waders, so quite quickly we found ourselves wading through water. I did explain, in our defence, that it’s a lot colder in the UK. Third, following on from that last point, the heat down there was incredible: describing it as a sauna perhaps sums it up succinctly. I felt as though I’d shed a few pounds afterwards. And finally, the wildlife down there is starkly different to the creatures we’re accustomed to. Some of this included, but was indeed not limited to, cockroaches, big spiders, killer spiders, lizards called ‘dragons’ and eels – although we didn’t see any eels in here. The drain itself changes throughout, as we passed through brick sections which were built by the convicts (I’ll explain more about this in the next report, to avoid putting a huge history in this one), spray-over concrete areas and the standard modern concrete pipe. Towards the end we came across some of the ‘dragons’ Darkday has been telling us about, and we watched as she attempted to rescue them, to save them from an imminent death down inside the drain. She explained how they get trapped down there after falling inside. And that was our first drain in Australia. All in all it was great to see a part of Brisbane’s historic past, and to enter somewhere that’s well-trodden by the Cave Clan. The night certainly wasn’t over, though. Afterwards, we made our way to a public barbeque and, after a quick safety brew to uphold our English roots, a bit of food and a few bevvies, we made our way to the next drain on the list: ‘the Batcave’. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Darkday and Darkday’s Accomplice. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14:
  22. Solo jaunt. History Ha ha. Sorry, I used the Romanian name for this one just to get your attention. Dear reader, I present to you this once-infamous political prison, Doftana aka the Romanian bastille. Once one of the most cruel, harshest prisons in Romanian history, it's now largely forgotten about by Romanians, and quietly rots away near the Carpathian mountains just outside the village of Campina in Prahova county. Built in 1895 as a place to house nearby workers for the mine workings, it was converted in 1921 to a political prison for communists, among which the most famous prisoners were the former prime minister of Romania Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej (1952-1955) and former communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu (1968-1989). Both were imprisoned as young adults for their ideology, subjected to some of the foulest, most deranged treatment you can imagine. Doftana would eventually close in 1958, before being transformed into a museum during the communist period, in doing so becoming in effect a "communist shrine." Eventually, in addition to an earthquake in 1977 and declining visitor numbers it closed in 1990, after the anti-communist revolt in 1989. Since then it has been left to rack and ruin, its once impenetrable walls crumbling at the mercy of harsh weather, metal thieves and vandals. For a more in-depth history, I'm not going to make a pastiche of someone else's already superb write-up, so please make a visit to Darmon Richter's Bohemian Blog here. I'll add my own interpretation below. My visit This was a place I wouldn't miss at any costs, despite it not being that epic compared to the likes of H15 and such. At the same time, my nerves were sky high; if you've read the last two reports on this place, you'd think that even if the place is a ruin it would be a near-impenetrable fortress. Yes, literally. Dragging Arold to Campina with me, we got a taxi driver to take us there. A young man about my age, surprisingly he spoke English fluently and talked to us about the prison, how he used to play there with his friends when they were children. Nowadays however, he warned that security had been put in place to stop us getting in. Having spoken to Darmon about it before, with the dogs free roaming the place I thought they would be virtually unavoidable. We got to the gates, and all was dead. The cabin on the right was empty and derelict now. However, I nearly screwed things up when I walked up the (I assume) guard's driveway to their house, making the dog bark. Get back. Right, we can't approach from the front. I need to flank it from behind, just like I planned. I made my way up a road that went along the hill with Arold, until I found a gate to an empty field. Arold wasn't feeling up to it unfortunately, so I bade farewell to him before he made his way back. Down the hill, I thrash my way through bushes and trees before I spot a grey building. It was the toilets. I got to the fence, all looks quiet still. No dogs. Jumping straight over the fence, I could tell the place was well looked after, with all the grass cut regularly and open space. Danger zone! I first check out the guard towers that are dotted round the place, but all the stairs inside had long since rotted away, so they wouldn't provide me with access. I had to keep running, so I got to the entrance building and BOOM! I was in within seconds, having not seen a single soul. So far so good, but still nervous. I made my way into the courtyard, which by contrast had been completely let go and was overgrown. From here all the buildings were wide open. Time to start shooting. Having seen footprints and even a dog pawprint in the dust, I was rightfully on edge and started shooting the upstairs part first. Nevertheless, shooting Doftana was absolutely fascinating, and I sought to capture it for what it is: a cold, horrible, crumbling concrete shell. The cells above were part of one of the more open, less restricted wings for prisoners. These prisoners were allowed to socialise in the courtyard, but if caught trading cigarettes and contraband they would be sent to H, the block dedicated to the most barbaric of treatments. This block I assume was dedicated to prisoners who were to undergo hard labour. Knowing what they were subject to, I can only think the conditions were marginally better than H. As you can see, it's absolutely clear what a dire state Doftana is in. It won't be long until the entire cell block collapses in on itself, finishing Doftana off. And so we come to the solitary confinement cells, block H. Look at the lower cells relative to the windows. Absolutely no light could shine in when the doors were closed, plus the floors were flooded. During winter without heating and with inmates living on rations barely possible to survive on, many died here. It's virtually impossible to capture the emotion invoked by architecture in a photo, but dear reader, how do you think you would feel if this was your cell? You wouldn't survive, would you? I wouldn't, that's for sure. It was time to move onto the west cell blocks. Thus far I heard plenty of dogs barking, and possibly footsteps, but to be honest it was probably wind and dogs from afar. I was at leisure to roam undisturbed. Internal courtyard, now long since overgrown. I headed back to the front building. It was clear this had been converted to a museum post-closure, but anything of value had long been plundered. All that remained was a smashed up diorama. Theatre room. The projection room was bare, before you ask. It was time to make my escape. Not wanting to push my luck, I didn't stop to take externals. I dashed out the way I came in, never seeing a single guard or dog in sight. So there we have it, Doftana Prison. What does the future hold? Sadly not a great deal for the present moment. It's used for airsoft games sometimes, but that's it. It's a listed building too, but reuse would be difficult not just because of its ruinous condition, but also the history. On the final day of our tour, Arold and I visited Sighet Prison in Maramureș; this was very similar to Doftana inside, having been opened in 1897 (albeit exclusively, unlike Doftana) as a prison. In the 1950s when Doftana had already closed this was used to detain prisoners under the communist regime, and the conditions and treatments were hardly much better than what happened at Doftana. As I walked round, we were shown a map of the prisons used by the communist regime to imprison political prisoners. I wondered why Doftana wasn't listed, and now I know why; it's because this building is the the complete opposite. Sighet was a prison run by the communist regime, now preserved as a memorial to the victims of communism. Doftana was a prison museum during that time, and became a shrine to communism. Ultimately, if there's one thing I can conclude from visiting the two, it's that no matter how many crimes against humanity are committed, history seems to find a way to repeat itself. It just puts on a different guise each time. Doftana and Sighet are sides of the same dirty coin. Pessimistic, but look at the Conservative party in the UK; they want to revoke the human rights act, and too many people sit by and let it happen. If you've got this far, thank you for reading. Love and best wishes, True British Metal x
  23. Visited with Arold. History Casino Constanta is an historic monument built in Art Nouveau style between 1904 -1910, to meet the needs of the Black Sea tourists in the period known as La belle Époque: a time when well dressed gentlemen would read the newspaper early in the morning, enchanting ladies walked on the promenade, the sound of military music filled the atmosphere on sunset, inviting people to “dance” in their impeccable evening outfits. The man who conceived this challenging project, very modern at that time, was Daniel Renard, a young Romanian architect of Swiss origin. The building is exceptionally rich in decorations inspired by the vegetal and marine worlds: waves, climbing plants, beautiful flowers and fantastic shell windows, make you believe that you are in an undersea palace, where Poseidon is waiting to greet you on his throne, behind the curtain of the majestic theatre stage in the main room. The Casino is challenging your imagination step by step, with every ornament, every broken mirror, and every crack in the wall producing an emotional rollercoaster outlined by the magnificent view of the sea. What used to be the main social and cultural attraction of the city in the past is lying in despair today, completely neglected like a true old man celebrating his 100th anniversary alone. During World War II, the building was transformed into a hospital, and during the communist regime was a restaurant where, weddings, baptisms and communist events were organized. Little by little its fame started to fade. Having closed in 1990, in the 2000s the casino was taken under the care of the Municipality of Constanta. In 2007 the municipality signed a concession contract on 49 years with the Israeli company Queen Co Leisure International (QLI), in exchange of 140,000€ annually. QLI stated publicly that they would invest 15 million euros in renovation and transforming the casino into an international entertainment center, the biggest in Romania. The optimistic company forecasted that the investment was going to be recovered in 5 years, yet another 4 years passed and still nothing happened. The municipality ended the contract and started searching for a buyer. Soon enough this decision started a public scandal, where the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism (MRDT) promises to take over the problem. The old Casino is supposedly going to be restored completely with funds from the MRDT’s budget. The new dates are placing the beginning of the renovation work in maximum one year after the Casino is officially under MRDT administration, and another 2 years to finish the work. So far the first deadline for starting the project is going to be August-September 2012. Our experience Casino Constanta. The most famous derelict building in Romania. After our trip to Moldova and Transnistria, there was no way I was going to miss this. It's the icon of Constanta; ask a Romanian what there is to see in the city apart from the impeccable Black Sea beaches, and they'll probably mention this. It even appears in the Lonely Planet guide! Up until this year according to Tripadvisor visitors were allowed inside, but recent reports suggested this stopped. I thought if worst comes to worst I'll just sneak in round the back through an open window, easy enough... but I wanted to be on the safe side and be guaranteed entry. A good job I did what I did, and contact the City Hall. I emailed them for permission, which was granted provided Arold and I signed an affidavit to say that they weren't responsible for any injuries incurred as a result of us going inside. Fantastic! Don't you just wish it could be like this in the UK? Just sign a form and the doors are flung open for you. Obviously it's under council care and a listed building, but I wasn't expecting the level of security they had at this place. When we arrived, we saw two guards outside in a cabin. They spoke no English, but somehow got the message that I was granted permission by the mayor to go inside. They called somebody up, and out comes a younger guard from inside the building, who spoke English fluently. Two guards outside and one inside, for one small building; this place is a fortress. I showed him my passport, and then Arold and I were granted free roam. The sights here are among the best of their kind. Absolutely exceptional details in every room. For a 1990 closure, particularly being so close to the abrasive salty sea air and water, it's survived exceptionally well. You can tell attempts have been made to restore the building in the past judging by workers' tools left behind; sadly nothing has happened to this day. Still, vandalism has thankfully been kept to an absolute minimum. The majority of the building had been accessible, but there were a few rooms which were nailed shut presumably to prevent break-ins and animals (although cats and pigeons inevitably found their way in). Again, a damn good job I didn't try to sneak in with the guard inside! One of my best photos ever. And to you dear reader, I present you now with Poseidon's lair. The centrepiece, the theatre! It was in this room that damage and decay was clearer after 26 years of disuse. Yet it still conveys a real sense of grandeur on an epic scale. Maybe I'm getting whipped up in hysteria, but could this be one of the best locations I've ever done? Heading backstage And now to round things off. And an external. So there we have it. On a final note I just wanted to say this. Even if it's now an EU member state and tourism is increasing, Romania is still a criminally underrated destination. Explorer or not, I simply cannot recommend the country enough. Get out there and find some more gems; there are cities like Hundeoara ram jammed with derelict industry so I hear! Not only that, you've got some of the best mountain ranges in Europe and most beautiful cities you'll ever see. Get out there! Love as always, True British Metal x
  24. I wanted to visit the building for more than two years, but I was never before in the area of this country. And I would probably not flew there this summer, if would not have been reports that the building is to be restored soon. Meanwhile, I doubt this message; but at least the rumor has had the consequence, finally to realize the visit. Currently, the former casino can only be visited with permission. Even at night a guard was present. The building was commissioned around 1900 and it was built between 1904-1910. Because maintaining was too expensive, the casino closed in 1990. Allegedly, already in 2013 the EU has approved 10 million € for the renovation. If this is true, it is surprising that nothing has happened within the last three years. I asked the town council by email whether there are plans for a renovation in the near future, but I'm still waiting for an answer. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
  25. Evening All! This beauty was one of the places we visited on a recent trip around europe, and what a trip it was! 9 days, 7 countries and over 4,500 miles! It was certainly a trip to remember, from camping in the alps under thousands of stars one one of the clearest nights i've ever seen, to being inches from becoming stranded in czech in the middle of the night. We met some strange, somewhat crazy and definitely unique characters on our travels, from a tree growing hippie to a lovely old man taking care of a power station. It was so draining - getting by on minimal sleep, but an array of mcdonalds breakfasts, takeaways and cheep beer certainly helped! This was a beautiful place we done in austria, but i didn't get my hopes up too much - i'd heard it was sealed but we were passing so gave it a go anyway. Persistence paid off and after a while of searching we found a way in, and in the middle of a sunny sunday afternoon we slipped in one by one, attempting to get in undetected by the many passing by. A little eager to get in, bags were bundled through the hole and into the basement - not realising the floor had been removed, so it soon turned into a game of balance on the metal framework Once inside the scale of the place hit me, especially the grandeur of the staircases - definitely one of my favourite to date. We spent a good couple of hours here, sweltering in the heat before hitting the road to my friends house. We arrived just as the sun was setting, and my what a beautiful view he has. He told me he had a wine cellar, but i didnt realise the size until i stepped down and saw a monumental amount of alcohol. we certainly made a small dent in that, along with loads of pizza and a fire under the stars. As always, thanks for looking!

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