Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rozelle Tram Depot

The abandoned Rozelle Tram Depot at Glebe is one of those places that you would have entered as a child with an ear-to-ear grin, begging your parents to stay for 'just five minutes more'; the type of place that makes your eyes light up. I was lucky enough to go there today with two of my mates - Lucas and Nicholas.

This particular tram depot is the largest of its kind in Sydney. At peak capacity, it ran approximately 200 trams from1918, to its closure in 1958. Since the depot was abandoned, it has become a haven for the homeless, a hot spot for vandals, and most astonishingly, a virtual sanctuary for street artists. There are still five trams in the depot, as well a bus. All of these vehicles have been heavily vandalised, however, this vandalism is undoubtedly quite stylish and aesthetically-pleasing. Take a look at what I mean:

OK...maybe the trams aren't that aesthetically-pleasing on the inside, but from the outside, they are quite something. But it isn't just the trams that stand out in this amazing place. There is graffiti all over the place - not just crappy tags, but some impressive pieces of art. 

I was initially worried that it would be hard to get into the depot. It is owned by the NSW Harness Racing Club, so I thought that there may have been security, or that all entrances would be blocked. That was not the case, and entry was as simple as walking through a set of massive gates. There is even graffiti on the building's exterior. Lucas and I were awestruck when we entered through the gates. Nicholas didn't really care that much. Lucas loves street art and photography, so this place was a goldmine for him. As for me, I also like street art, and I also enjoy exploring what I like to call 'hidden relics' of society. I've always enjoyed exploring unfamiliar places with interesting histories. There are spray cans scattered around the floor, as well as plenty of broken glass (windows from trams/the bus and the building itself). Some areas are moist and have plant life, whilst some areas are dangerous to walk on, due to missing, creaky or broken floorboards. What makes this place so exciting to explore (besides the art) is the vast amount of rooms it has, or the size of it as a whole. What's strange is that the toilets/shower block actually smells bad. It's quite creepy around that area. Believe it or not, there's still a bar of soap lying in one of the soap-holders! It isn't difficult to judge that the tram depot has been lived in, or is currently being lived in by squatters. There are food wrappers, empty bottles, clothes, mattresses...EVEN PORN! 

Lucas, Nicholas and I weren't the only ones inside the tram depot today. There was a group of people in there who were filming a video. It turns out that the video was being filmed for Oprah Winfrey, and will be shown to her when she visits Australia next month. It is hoped that Oprah can promote the Rozelle Tram Depot as a place of heritage and community, and stop the local council from building apartments on the land. How do I know this? Because I was asked to say a few words about the place. The woman who approached me to be in the video seemed very friendly and down-to-earth, so I was more than happy to help her out. Lucas declined a role in the video because he didn't want his face or name on TV, and Nicholas refused to participate because he actually wants the apartments to be built on the site. So, I gave the Rozelle Tram Depot a decent plug, and it was all honest, too. I really do like the place.

Once we had thoroughly explored the place, Lucas, Nicholas and I decided to bid it farewell. We took some 'souvenirs' with us, which were empty spray cans. A woman who was passing by with a baby in a pram asked us " [Have you] been vandalising the place, as usual?" Lucas told her that we were just taking photos, which is the truth. I didn't like that woman. She had an elitist mentality, probably because she lives in an affluent part of Sydney. I walked along a rock ledge to get past a padlocked set of gates (not the ones we entered through), and when I landed on the concrete, I hurt my toes, and yelled out "FUCK!" I found this to be funny, because the woman and her toddler were still very close to us. Hilarious.

After spending a couple of hours today at the Rozelle Tram Depot, I can definitely tell you that it is a spectacular place. It's tucked away, and not often heard about, but don't let that deter you from checking it out. If you have an interest in street art, Sydney's heritage sites, or just like exploring wide open spaces, then I recommend this place to you. I may even be going back there as soon as next week! I took 53 photos today, and you can see them on my Facebook ( Lucas took over 200 photos! Some are already up, but the entire set will be up by tomorrow.


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