Cityscaping – Cranes in Melbourne, Australia

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 18.01.2011

Written by mrsee.cc
Cranes. Where to start. I’d never thought about climbing one only a few years ago, but once the idea was planted, it was just a matter of time. My first one, a 1o story baby, was just a quick “why not?” on the way home from the pub one night. I’d walked past it a few times in the days before, and having recently done quite a few rooftops, I figured this was the next step. I had a quick walk around, saw no security or anything to hinder me, jumped a fence in an alleyway and I was in. I made it almost to the top, only to find the access to the cabin was tightly secured with a chain and padlock underneath the turntable. Slightly dissapointed, I snapped a few quick photos and headed back down. I jumped back over the fence, walked back out to the main street, looked up, and smiled. The slight disapointment was gone, replaced with a satisfaction I’d never really felt before. I saw, I came, I climbed. And I got away with it.

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109 Clarendon

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109 Clarendon

Since then I’ve climbed about a dozen just in Melbourne. The view from 10 stories was nice, but I needed more. These days I try to concentrate on anything 25 floors plus. The risk of being caught doesn’t seem to be worth doing anything small for, so I might as well set my sights on the highest. I have been removed from a site by the police. 13 of them. This seemed a bit overkill to me and my two friends, but like they said, they had no idea what we were up there for. We could have been protestors, jumpers, vandals, thieves, anything. Lucky for us, we just happened to talk to the nice cop first, and after the patdown, bag search and looking through our photos, he told us he used to climb electrical transmission towers when he was younger. After being lectured by a couple of senior sergeants, being abused by a response unit cop (under his breath mind), and being yelled at by the site manager, we had our details taken, and were sent on our way. The site manager was pretty concerned that we had actually been into the cabin and messed with the controls. We actually hadn’t (this time…), and he told us they need to shut the crane down for a day to re-calibrate it if someones been messing around with it. Good to know…

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La Banque

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La Banque

Luckily it doesn’t usually go down that way, in fact, that was the first time I’d actually dealt with the cops for being up a crane. I’ve had them called on me while on a solo mission by nosy joe public, only for them to go to the wrong crane, giving me a chance to escape. Mostly though, they’ve gone off without a hitch

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Theres no such thing as a regular night up a crane. Sometimes it can go badly, like above, other times it goes so smooth it’s ridiculous. I like it somewhere in the middle personally, enough of a rush to make busting your arse worthwhile, but still being able to walk off down the street afterwards. A succesful climb can go many ways. I’ve jumped shoulder high fences right next to the crane. I’ve climbed temporary construction elevators to avoid motion sensors. I’ve climbed the outside of cranes themselves to avoid cameras. I’ve monkeyed up gantrys, trees and barred windows to get into sites. I’ve climbed unfinished stairwells and floors, relying on reinforcing bar and scaffold for support. I’ve wandered half finished apartments and plantrooms. I’ve hid on gantry floors while cops drove underneath, unaware of our presence. They’re slightly different, in that actually getting to the crane is often the hardest part, and can include any combination of situations I just mentioned. Once on the crane it’s pretty straightforward, pack on the front, storm up ladders, get to the top exhausted, look around and smile, crack a beer and light a smoke, take a few snaps, chill out for a little while, then reverse the process. And all this just for the view, but it’s always worth it.

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Inner Easter suburbs development

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Inner Easter suburbs development

One of the most appealing things about cranes is the fact that no matter how high the building gets, the crane will pretty much always be higher than the building itself. You might get on the roof once the building is finished, but you will always have been that little bit higher, now unatainable, but you know you were there, in some cases the only person to do it (illegally anyway), and that’s satisfying. Another thing that got me into cranes and active construction sites was Melbournes lack of large and interesting abandonments. Theres only so many empty, trashed warehouses I can look at, and spending hours in a small abandonment taking detail and HDR photos isn’t for me (not to there is anything wrong with that, each to their own), I just need more of the rush that live sites bring.

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Sydney somewhere

I don’t always take photos, sometimes I just enjoy the explore, sometimes it’s just a spontaneos thing, sometimes the damn things won’t stop swinging in the wind long enough to take a focused photo. Most of the time I do get the pics (or it didn’t happen!), and I’m usually pretty happy with them. I’m not a photographer that explores, I’m an explorer that takes photos. They’re not always the best composed, or best lit and my cameras not fantastic, but it does the job, and I’ll let the location do the talking.

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Somewhere else in Sydney…

I have been solo more often than not, as I do with a lot of exploring. I like the feeling of heightened senses, my heart pumping, ears picking up every little noise, eyes constantly searching back and forth, up and down. Relying 100% on yourself to get it done, with no one to bounce ideas or concerns off, makes the whole experience more intense.

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East Melbourne, MCG view

So I guess thats about it, I don’t like to give too much away, and certainly no specific entries, but that’s pretty much what crane climbing involves for me

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Wind issues, Perth

3 comments

#1pipJanuary 19, 2011, 6:15 am

Very interesting Mrsee I will have to join you on another one of these missions in the future. Damn cops :P

#2sophos9January 19, 2011, 9:39 am

Great work mrsee – great to see Melbourne from this view. Amazing photos, kudos man

#3athJanuary 21, 2011, 11:15 pm

Sweet write up mate!

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