Category Archives: Inside

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JPL Elevator Testing Tower

Fear of elevators is fairly common. Each time I’ve been in one and it’s made strange noises or lurched around, everyone inside wonders if maybe the elevator’s going to plummet to the ground.

It doesn’t plummet to the ground.

But they sure do here!

Built in the 70’s this elevator testing tower was designed to test the safety functions of elevators.
They’d see how fast they could get them to go before falling apart.
They’d test how hard they could stop.
Ultimately, after running the car to the top of the tower, they’d cut the cables and see what happens as it plummets to the ground.

Sounds like a good place to elevator surf.

Mothballed Battleships

As we rowed up to the mothballed battleships in the darkness; the water behind us began to glow, and a stream of electric blue seawater trailed us. To this day, that Bio-luminescent algae is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in my life.

Mothballed FleetAfter getting the van bogged we scrambled down a cliff face towards the beach. Sharp coral everywhere, and an inflatable boat. This was going to be an interesting endeavor.

We paddling out into the calm pre-dawn water & began exploring the dozen mothballed battleships that would be our playground. Our day started on a troop transport ship, but our main target was sitting tantalizingly close to us. Weighing in at 11300 tonnes, the Colbert was ours for the taking. Once home to two and half thousand men men, she towered above anything else, her red dome just itching for our visit.

Just getting onto her involved climbing across several other ships to get high enough to reach her, but soon enough we’d found ourselves on the deck of the Colbert, weaseling our way inside.

Mothballed Fleet

So many levels, so much to see, so little time. The photos paint a better description than anything else. The whole adventure made more fun by the welded hatches between levels, leaving us with only one way to get up and one way to get down.

Mothballed Fleet

The highlight was finding an Exocet missile left behind in the munitions room, priced at $3,000,000 a pop. I’d like to hope it wasn’t active.Mothballed Fleet

After exploring all of the abandoned ships, we began paddling back, fighting the current and the web of steel cables below the surface. When mere meters from the beach our inflatable boat snagged on a piece of coral and began to sink. Despite our best efforts we waded the rest of the way, and our little inflatable joined the other forgotten boats.

Mothballed Fleet

 

Jailbreak – Pentridge Prison

Coburg College as it was better known, was home to Australia’s best and brightest criminals from 1851 up until 1997. Pentridge played home to all of Victoria’s executions from 1926 until the last execution was conducted by hanging in 1967.

Over the course of a few weekends in 2012, we camped inside the razor wire topped walls of Melbourne’s abandoned Pentridge Prison.  We explored every inch of what was once one of Australia’s highest security jails. The prison contained the majority of Australia’s high security inmates from Ned Kelly to Chopper Read.

There are stories galore of what’s gone on inside Pentridge. After the Hoddle Street Massacre in 1987, Pentridge was home to Paul Steven Haigh, an inmate with the unenviable title of “Victoria’s most Prolific Killer”. However after the Hoddle St Massacre, he lost this title. It wasn’t long before Haigh killed another inmate to even the score.

There we numerous Pentridge Prison escapees, most notably Ronald Joseph Ryan. Ryan was the last man Hanged in Australia, hanged in the very prison he’d previously escaped from. In 1987 Dennis Mark Quinn was the last person to escape from Pentridge. Having sawn through the bars and using some rope to scale down the walls, the 27 year old got on a ship to New Zealand. But not before painting a Shawhank-esque message on the walls of his cell. Addressed to one of the wardens it read “Merry Christmas, Mr Williams“.

However a large number of successful  Pentridge Prison escapees have never been seen or head from again, which suggests many are still out there somewhere and living below the radar.

The blue-stone walls made for surprisingly good climbing, and without the search lights, dogs and armed guards, the place was ours.