Coalcliff cokeworks a target for urban explorers

Ramble on: These four screen grabs from the explorers' YouTube videos shows the level of access they are able to achieve.

Ramble on: These four screen grabs from the explorers' YouTube videos shows the level of access they are able to achieve.

The old cokeworks at Coalcliff has become a target for urban explorers who film their exploits inside the disused industrial site. 

Social media sites carry several of the videos, showing groups of boys, girls and young men gaining entry through or over a fence, and then rambling through the site filming as they go.

Gantries are climbed, safety ladders scaled, views admired and trains hidden from as the interlopers pass through the property, which has lain dormant since closing in 2013 after 99 years of cokemaking.

The old industrial plant is still dotted with safety signs and “restricted entry” notices but these are paid scant regard by the explorers, who delight in disobeying them, some wearing just thongs as they climb around.

While some of the videos show young people walking around the open spaces out of harm’s way, others show older youths in situations and equipment which could easily prove dangerous.

Clear out: The message from the cokeworks signage is rather direct. Picture: Supplied ICC/Kate Strahorn.

Clear out: The message from the cokeworks signage is rather direct. Picture: Supplied ICC/Kate Strahorn.

Urban exploration is a popular activity among a certain subculture, particularly in larger cities. Tunnels on the Sea Cliff Bridge have also been a target for some of the more intrepid explorers. 

The site is in limbo as Illawarra Coke Company owners form a plan to potentially develop housing there. Company director Kate Strahorn said security patrols had been employed and signs erected to keep people out.

“It’s patrolled regularly – we’ve done multiple signage upgrades,” Ms Strahorn said.

“It’s an old industrial site so it has numerous risks. We don’t want anyone on it.

We are considering drone surveillance, that’s one thing we’re looking at. - Kate Strahorn, Illawarra Coke Company

“Because of the risks anyone who comes on site has to go through an induction process.

“But it’s a constant challenge [keeping people out].

“We are considering drone surveillance, that’s one thing we’re looking at.

“But we have regular patrols We’re looking to do whatever we can to deter people.

“It’s just not a place for trespassers.”

Ms Strahorn has been overseeing moves to get the contaminated heavy industry plant into shape for potential housing development on part of the property.

Reports on the state of the site had been commissioned and the company had met with staff from Wollongong City Council to discuss the process for applying to get the land rezoned.

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