The Abandoned Gay Sauna (Photoblog)

“Explorers are aware that, every time they crack a new location, they become one of the ingredients of the mixture of the place, melding themselves into its fabric and capturing transitional moments within it. Explorers are prepared to care for historic sites but also to let them disappear.” – Bradley L. GarrettExplore Everything: Place-Hacking The City From Tunnels To Skyscrapers

A friend of mine who’s affiliated with a local urban exploration crew is currently studying overseas. That didn’t stop him from connecting me with one of his urbex-enthusing friends remotely to check out this abandoned gay sauna in Sydney. We visited the neglected hall of pleasure on Halloween – what better day? The place has kept many of its old furnishings and it easy to let the imagination run wild and concoct stories of the devilish delights the men of yesteryear must have indulged in here.

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Walking Dorks II: Springwood Station to Martins Falls Loop (Lower Blue Mountains)

On the first Friday night of November, I was at the pub with a few of my mates when the topic of hiking came up – Why don’t we go somewhere tomorrow? Yeah, why not! We quickly set our sights on Springwood, a suburb in the Lower Blue Mountains in the area once settled by the Dharug people. With such little preparation, we had to be a little less ambitious than our previous day out in Blackheath (the first hike I shot on film). Come Saturday morning, three out of five of us overcame lack of sleep and slight hangovers to make it out there.

We based our trek loosely on the Martins Lookout Loop Walk route you can find on WildWalks. We did the loop in reverse, parking in Picnic Glen (it’s a street; it’s searchable on Google Maps). From there, we took the Fairy Dell track, following it due south for a couple of kilometres. The track runs along Magdala Creek and is mostly covered by fairly dense tree coverage, which made the heat more bearable.

Springwood is just at the foothills of the Blue Mountains, so the scenery there isn’t as breathtaking as up in Katoomba or Blackheath, but it still has its charms. Because it’s a less popular spot, we didn’t run into that many people on the path and we got to enjoy the wildlife. We spotted some Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots, got up close to a few busy lyrebirds and ran into every tourist in Australia’s worst nightmare: this little guy is a Red-Bellied Black Snake! Another feature of the area are the eroded sandstone outcrops. Sure, these aren’t uncommon around NSW but the ones we went by were still pretty cool.

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At a certain point, the Fairy Dell track crosses the creek and climbs up to Lawsons Lookout. Up there, we got to feel the sun and take in views of the top of the canopy. After that, the track curves around and brings you by Magdala Falls then Martins Falls. When we went, they were barely a trickle – according to the track notes, they’re more spectacular after a rain. We were more impressed by the steepness of the cliff from the viewing platform and the size of the pool at the bottom. In hindsight, I should’ve tried to take a photo anyway!

The Perch Ponds Campsite was the next stop, at the junction of Magdala and Glenbrook Creeks. We stopped for water and to discuss our next steps. Option number one: Continue on to Martins Lookout, maybe even troop it through to Blaxland and get a train back to the car in Springwood. Number two: Return to the car via Victory Track. In the end, we were wary of the time and the persistent mozzies hastened our decision to return to the car as directly as possible.

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We followed Glenbrook Creek (Victory/Sassafras Gully Track) for about 2km, before turning right at Wiggins Track. It was so dark under the canopy that the birdlife must have thought it was dusk because they were out and about and making some noise. Then the track kicked upwards and things got a lot more quiet as we focused on just getting up the next step. We stopped for some photos at a seriously impressive rocky outcrop where we got probably the best views of the day but regretted lingering as the mozzies, again, were making light work of us! 

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Before we knew it, we were on sealed road and ambling back to our car where we were greeted by a huge flock of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos foraging in the late afternoon sun. From there, wee got back to Sydney in time for dinner at the Pho Hong Song, a Vietnamese joint that would give any place in Bankstown or Cabramatta a run for their money.

As always, thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe at the top right part of the page. All photos above were shot on 35mm film, using my little Ricoh Shotmaster. I got my camera from Lucky35, a vintage film camera exchange based in Chippendale, Sydney.

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Walking Dorks: Perrys Lookdown to Govetts Leap (Blue Mountains)

October this year was a pretty good time for me. I was still unemployed and, it goes without saying, I tried my best to enjoy the resplendent Sydney spring weather to its fullest. It was warm (but not overly so) and there were few of those pesky flies and mosquitoes that come with summer proper. Perfect for a long bushwalk!

On the second day of the month, a few friends and I took on the 9km hike from Perrys Lookdown to Govetts Leap. October 2 also marked 6 months since I tore my MCL, so I finally had the full blessing of my knee specialist to continue my active lifestyle. Perrys Lookdown to Govetts Leap is a fairly arduous but extremely rewarding bushwalk. I’d recommend it for regular and casual bushwalkers.

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The Perrys Lookdown-Govetts Leap trek is in NSW’s Blue Mountains, with the nearest train station being in Blackheath. We took two cars, parking one at Govetts Leap Lookout (our end point) and the other at Perrys Lookdown (which is where we started). This luxury allowed us to choose and complete this trek in one day.

For the uninitiated, WildWalks is an indispensable resource for bushwalking and outdoor enthusiasts in NSW. For a full breakdown of the trek we did (minus the walk to Blackheath train station), click on this link. There, you’ll find everything from a topographic map, an elevation profile, detailed track notes and transport information. 

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From Perrys Lookdown we passed Dockers Lookout before descending into Blue Gum Forest. The forest was a really pleasant environment to enjoy the spring weather. Any harshness from the sun was blocked off by the trees, but enough sunlight filters through, so you still feel like you’re outdoors. I really like how my camera captures the lighting down there.

perrys lookdown govetts leap blue mountains bushwalk review

perrys lookdown govetts leap blue mountains bushwalk review

Rory trying in to protect his banana from getting mushed up; Nupur and Gareth poking fun at him.

perrys lookdown govetts leap blue mountains bushwalk review

Eventually, we came to the junction of Grose River and Govetts Creek, which we followed for a few kilometres, passing the Acacia Flats camping ground. When we stopped for a quick snack break, we cooled down in the water and mucked around for a few photos (lol). From there, the track undulated and, at times, we got nice views of the creek from higher vantage points. One highlight was when we could spot Pulpit Rock in the distance.

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We broke for lunch further upstream and basked in the sun with handsome water dragons like this guy. It was a nice moment to stop and take stock. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves at this point: any worries about not making it back to the car at Govetts Leap Lookout at a reasonable hour had dissipated as we were making good time. And the conversation had been flowing all day, which is one of the best things about hiking with your mates.

perrys lookdown govetts leap blue mountains bushwalk reviewperrys lookdown govetts leap blue mountains bushwalk review

Our lunch break at the foot of Govetts Leap Brook proved to be the calm before the proverbial storm. From there, the final kilometres were basically all uphill with a particularly nasty final ascent. The chatter died down, the group split in two, and water breaks were taken more frequently.

But with great commitment came great reward: Here, you can see our view of Govetts Leap Falls from below and the Blue Mountains from halfway up to Govetts Leap Lookout. Happy, sweaty, and ready to kick back and relax, we didn’t pose for a family photo at the finish line. Instead, we went off to other commitments and continued our busy lives.

perrys lookdown govetts leap blue mountains bushwalk reviewperrys lookdown govetts leap blue mountains bushwalk review

As always, thanks for reading! For more, don’t forget to subscribe at the top right part of the page. All photos were shot on 35mm film, using my little Ricoh camera. I got my Ricoh from Lucky35, a vintage film camera exchange based in Chippendale, Sydney.

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Hidden in Rookwood (Photoblog)

“Rookwood is the oldest, largest and most multicultural cemetery in Australia, and Hidden invites the public to experience the historic and cultural significance of this iconic site… [it’s] an outdoor sculptural exhibition that steps outside the notion of mainstream galleries and typical outdoor sculpture exhibitions.” – Hidden In Rookwood

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Notes from the field:

  • Hidden 2016 ran from 23 September to 23 October. It was the sculpture walk’s third run. Check out their gallery on their website here. They also have a rather unheralded Instagram account.
  • Hidden was by far the most enthralling and mind-jogging sculpture walk I’ve been to in Sydney. I urge you to check it out next year.
  • The day we went was muggy, with heavy, threatening clouds overhead. Luckily for us, the rain stayed away and we roamed in peace. We came across the audio-visual piece at the end, just as we thought there wasn’t any more to see. It was the perfect way to end our stay.
  • Ram’s, a South Indian/Sri Lankan takeaway joint down the road in Flemington provided us with a great feed beforehand.
  • Remember, alles ist vergänglich.

All photos were shot on 35mm film, using my little Ricoh camera. Check out Lucky35, a vintage film camera exchange based in Sydney.

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The Abandoned Cokeworks (Photoblog)

“In exploring the ruins of a failed past… explorers don’t just experience the surreal collapse of time and space that exist within the ruin – they remind themselves that everything is transience, that anything we think we can hold on to is an illusion.” – Bradley L. GarrettExplore Everything: Place-Hacking The City From Tunnels To Skyscrapers

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All photos were shot on 35mm film, using my little Ricoh camera. Check out Lucky35, a vintage film camera exchange based in Sydney.

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Young dogs, old dogs (Photoblog)

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Notes from the field:

  • Holly is our beautiful, white-haired labradoodle who’s 13 this year. We love her to bits. Remi is our feisty, insatiable young pup who’s also a poodle cross. She’s gotta learn to respect her elders! Understandably, they have been all over my Instagram lately.
  • Dogs are hard to capture on film! And I’m still figuring out what works. However, I’m really proud of the last shot here. The framing, the lighting, the contrast in the colours.

All photos were shot on 35mm film, using my little Ricoh camera. Check out Lucky35, a vintage film camera exchange based in Sydney.

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