Riding around Northbridge on a beautiful 28°C weekday afternoon, it was my mission to note down any suspicious houses that looked derelict or at least, abandoned. Because they were located in the same suburb, I expected that a number of these premises would be managed by the same property manager, making it easier and certainly more efficient, to approach them with a request to access the sites, for the purposes of photography.
Within minutes of beginning my quest, I realised I'd forgotten about all the murals and awesome graffiti pieces I would see and certainly did!
Sadly I also realised, I hadn't ridden around or explored Northbridge so thoroughly in some 14 years! Some of the art wasn't visible from the street, nor Google Earth and as a result, limited the appreciation good pieces deserved.
I had recently started photographing the better stickers left on and around laneways, drainpipes, street lights, traffic poles and the like. I remember first seeing them around 2002 but had never paid much attention to them until recently, when my urbex buddy Kristen made a point of looking for them.
As a result of looking for all pieces of graffiti, murals and stickers, on top of seeking out potential derelict and abandoned buildings, three hours had passed and I'd only managed to cover a small portion of Northbridge. I could see this was going to take some time. As in weeks! To think this was just one suburb out of many that deserved high priority, classification, particularly due to all the creative and awesome street art.
A number of warehouse-sized properties had been empty for as long as 22 years! Only one appeared to have been used as a squat, on at least one documented occasion. Perhaps the inside had also been trashed and graffitied, before the authorities reclosed it and secured all possible entry points. Something like that would certainly be worth capturing.
A number of premises, such as European Food's two massive warehouses on Francis Street, were some of the ones I noted down. It was highly likely they had nothing interesting to offer, particularly as all entrances and access points appeared to be well protected with the general appearance of the external building seemingly very good.
Five houses were noted with one in particular, certainly capturing my interest. It had the dreaded Site Sentry protection system in the backyard. It was the first thing I noticed, particularly as it was very unusual to have something like this guarding a house, rather than a commercial interest. It was similar to the ones I'd seen at Shenton Park Rehabilitation Hospital's Victoria House, the South Fremantle Power Station and the Baldivis Explosives Reserve Facility, although the latter in particular made the sentry system at this house look quite insignificant.
So naturally, the house had my full attention. It was only then did I notice a Department of Communities trespass notice on the gate, an electronic padlock and wooden boards securing all the windows and the back door.
When I exited the laneway a few minutes later and saw the front of the house, it was just as bad!
Aside from further wooden boards sealing the windows, a Site Sentry Guard Box had also been secured to the front of the house. This was deadset serious and certainly piqued my interest!
How long had it been secured like this for? I had never seen a Homeswest house protected?
Was it because it was in the city and not too far from a major homeless agency or a popular park hangout for this community? Why couldn't they just get a new tenant in quick, considering how long the waiting list could take, in terms of years? Was this even a normal Homeswest house? Perhaps someone had been killed here or it needed a meth lab cleanup.
I realised how lucky my mates and I were that Site Sentry protection systems didn't exist between 1999-2002 and if they did, they certainly weren't used in the city, nor to protect buildings we used for squats!
Before I knew it, it was almost 5.30pm. As I gulped down a cold grape-flavoured Powerade in between munching of a Mars Bar with my mate Sean, who I briefly met up with, I had the strong urge to continue riding around. Why did the sun have to set so soon?
'Where's your lights?,' Sean suddenly asked.
I groaned. It had been years since I rode my bike at night. Perhaps ten years or longer! Especially with all my airtime and hard landings, there'd never been a reason to have lights. Knowing my luck, my goody-two-shoes-by-the-book mate was probably on shift, riding around on his police bike.
But I made it home.
To the delight of my beloved little bogans, KitCat and Spam.
Away from Site Sentry mobile systems, lurking danger and the cold that was setting in.