By Noel Murphy
GEELONG’S abandoned cement works silos have become a dangerous playground for teenagers and graffiti artists.
Underground tunnels, shattered concrete buildings and tall structures pose challenges for reckless young adventurers to climb and scramble across, undeterred by poor security.
The giant McCurdy Rd silos, disused for more than a decade, attract youths with cameras, spray cans and iron bars, as this reporter discovered last weekend.
A teenage girl produced photos she had taken in a disused cement works tunnel.
“It’s so scary down there, it’s totally black,’’ she said, showing images of her flash-whitened mates’ faces in the tunnel.
A youth, lugging a 60cm iron bar across his shoulder, described another tunnel running beneath the site, its entrance under a massive pile of shattered concrete.
He pointed out graffiti daubed across a tower about 10m above the ground.
“They had to lean upside down out the windows to do that, pretty much,’’ he said.
The pair, part of a group of four youths, told the Independent they climbed a fence to gain entry to the site. Gaps in the fencing wide enough to walk through were easily found.
“It’s a great place,’’ said the tall trespasser.
“Heaps of people come here.’’
Adelaide Brighton leases the silos from VicTrack, which owns the site.
The silos, a huge grey blot on the landscape, according to nearby residents, have been left to crumble as teens with spray cans make a mockery of security signs and warnings.
Nearby residents are frustrated that the silos have been allowed to simply fall further into disrepair over more than a decade.
“The kids used to climb right up to the top, the very top, until someone took away steps but they still come and go whenever they like,’’ an Autumn St resident said.
“It’s a hole. Anyone can do anything they like there.
“Rubbish flies off the site, there’s so much crap. If you get a big enough storm it starts flying all over the neighbourhood.’’
Adelaide Brighton Cement said in a statement it took “all reasonable steps to ensure the integrity of appropriate perimeter fencing’’ was maintained around the old Geelong Cement silos.
“In relation to the future of the cement silos, Adelaide Brighton advises the development of the silos is undecided at this time with discussions regarding the land on which the silos are sited continuing with the landowner.’’
Would-be Fyansford Green developer Rob Moltoni had hoped to negotiate a deal to turn the giant silos into residential units.
He studied US silos developments for ideas until engineering reports indicated the Herne Hill structures unsuitable.
But the massive $300 million, 2000-house Fyansford Green project went bust late last year. The 115-hectare parcel at the former Fyansford cement works below the silos is now for sale.
A City of Greater Geelong spokesman said the City’s building services department would send officers to check on the security issue.
Council would ask the owners to make the site safe if the inspection found it was insecure and posing a danger to the public.
By Noel Murphy