Abandoned buildings and places

port arthur cover photo

Port Arthur, Tasmania. Classic collection of preserved heritage (once abandoned) buildings with stories to tell. Photo by Trish Anderson: Abandoned Australia

What is the attraction of old or abandoned buildings?

For me it’s the possibility, potential, and life.

Possibility in what may have happened in the aged halls? Who might have lived, laughed and cried in those empty rooms? Who were the builders, painters, plasterers who worked on the walls and floors?

Sometimes we know the history. Most times we don’t. I love the idea of walking through a heritage building touching banisters, placing my feet on worn stairs and imagining how many people and who might have gone before. One of my favourite heritage buildings is Old Government House in Parramatta, NSW. Hand-painted blinds, beautiful rugs, tassels and curtains restored or recreated how they were during the time of Governor Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie


Old Government House, Parramatta, NSW, Australia

Potential, especially with abandoned buildings, captures imaginations as people see, think, and visualise how they could bring the building back to life.


Abandoned farm at Gundagai, NSW in desparate need of some TLC from a Grand Designs addict… Photo from the Abandoned Australia collection


Life. Buildings have a life that we can connect and relate to. It doesn’t matter if they are stately old homes, derelict farm houses, old factories, abandoned churches. Someone somewhere has a yearning to revive what has been left to rot. Look at all the popular televisions shows like Grand Designs, Restoration Home, Build a new home (just to name a few of the ones I regularly watch) that document people going to great expense and effort to restore anything from an old house in the suburbs (the shows are set in the UK so an old house could be something built in the 1600s) to a crumbling ruin of a castle on some deserted island.

I think also that we like to have a sense of cultural history; a history we can identify in the bones of decaying buildings. We like to know where we came from and also be reminded that all we hold dear (as in our homes) will one day be the abandoned ruin and we will be the ghosts of imagination for future strangers. In our past we see our inevitable demise.

Scott Austin Sidler thinks that the fascination with abandoned places comes from, “a sense of place and time, and a perspective on where you fit in this huge, sometimes impersonal world. You are a part — a small but important part — of a much greater story.”

Like armchair travellers, we also enjoy exploring uncharted territory (uncharted in that we haven’t and/or can’t get there). It may be vicariously through photographers and chroniclers that do go out and explore, but that hardly matters when the imagination takes hold. Picturing ourselves in the courtyard of an abandoned castle is nearly as good as being there and in many cases as close as most of us will get.


Abandoned schools are popular with urban explorers. Photo from Abandoned Australia collection – Victoria

There is a term for this type of exploring – urban explorer. It is a term that triggers romantic notions of explorers making their way through cities and towns, and finding gems of history, kernels of truth, and nuggets of gossip and scandal.

Urban explorers turn the mundane into the interesting. They go where the rest of us wish we had the nerve to go (or the time or the ability). They have an interest in preservation, chronicling, exploring, photography, and a good helping of adventure. Let’s face it, we can’t all go exploring the Amazon or the Congo so we explore the jungle next door instead.

“Urban explorers use the motto, ‘Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Carolyn Kina an urban exploration enthusiast and photographer.

Then there are the chroniclers. People who see the potential for history in a run-down paling fence or a shed overgrown with weeds and vines. Once those fences and sheds meant something. If we keep a record of them then they have the potential to mean something again. Some historian might uncover a history. Some anthropologist might recognise the traces of culture in the remnants of disposable humanity.

Mostly though, I think we are fascinated by abandoned buildings because somewhere within those ramshackle walls, we just know, a good story lurks.

Possibility, potential and life are everywhere

Abandoned bridge in Victoria from the Abandoned Australia collection

Abandoned bridge in Victoria from the Abandoned Australia collection

If you like photographing abandoned buildings and places, you might be interested in this website: www.urbanghostsmedia.com/2010/12/photographing-decay-strange-appeal-educational-qualities-abandoned-places

If you like to just look and imagine, visit these Facebook communities: Abandoned Australia, Abandoned England, Abandoned Scotland, Abandoned Everything (plus many more – do a search for the area you’re interested in).

A lot of these communities accept photo submissions – check their “About” page for more information.


Book review: Buried Angels by Camilla Lackberg

Buried Angels

I didn’t get to hear Camilla Lackberg speak at the Sydney Writer’s Festival in May, but with Clare Wright’s book “The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka” already tucked under my arm, I spied the cover, read the blurb, and decided I could definitely afford to spend an extra $25 on a book.

I think it was the setting of “an idyllic island of the Swedish coast” that hooked me. I haven’t read any books set in Sweden before so something new. Of course, “dried blood is found under the floorboards of an old house…” certainly helped to lure me in. I’m a sucker for old houses. Surely stories are soaked into every layer of paint or wallpaper, every brick, and every beam of wood….

But enough of that and back to the novel that I’m attempting to review.

It didn’t start well. I couldn’t quite get a grip on the first couple of chapters. I wasn’t sure if the translation to English worked as well as it could, there were so many characters, and trying to pronounce the unfamiliar words/names (even in my head) was putting me off the story. I left it for a week or two, and last night, with some time to spare, I picked it up and decided to try again (after all, I’d spent $25 on this).

Coming home to an empty house (highly unusual), I put the bath on, poured a glass of wine and definitely set the mood to while away 30 to 40 minutes reading.  When the water went cold, I jumped out, quickly dried and rugged up (it’s winter here in Australia) and curled up in a corner of the lounge to read some more. At some point, family members came home, I threw dinner at them, ate myself (thank god, hubby put the slow cooker on before he went to work. All I had to do was dish up.), and then continued reading until 12:30 when, eyes bleary, I closed the book on the last page.

I was drawn in quickly, but I needed to allow time to get past the little roadblocks (already mentioned). You may read Buried Angels and not experience the same reaction as I did, but that’s okay. Everyone’s experience is different.

Now, onto the story: It’s a bit of a thriller, a bit of a treatise perhaps on the different ways people deal with grief, and a bit of historical fiction. I loved it! In between the covers we have modern Sweden, 1930s Germany/Sweden, highly dysfunctional families, an isolated boarding school in the 1970s, and so many secrets it will make your head spin!

The characters I connected with the most were the sisters, Erika and Anna. I was a little surprised; here were two fictional characters who felt pretty much the same as me about certain things. I don’t know a thing about the author, but already I want to meet her. She knows about fear; personal fear, little fears, and she knows about relations. Oh, does she know about this. I want to know more about what Ms Lackberg knows.

The background stories, of which there seemed to be many, slowly came together into one story and knitted together so well that, rather than be surprised, I was nodding (figuratively not literally) and thinking, “of course!”.

Ms Lackberg’s characters are well-rounded “real” people (I do love a well-rounded real person) and the scenes were realistic. I’ve watched a lot of tv crime and read quite a few crime stories and the scenes in this story were pleasantly far from the sometimes “plastic” and one dimensional renditions currently being offered.

On the back cover, The Guardian quote is, “Expert at mixing scenes of domestic cosiness with blood-curdling horror.”

I think I have to agree.

camilla lackberg

Camilla Lackberg at Walsh Bay, Sydney


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SWF is held every May at Walsh Bay, Sydney.


A non-definitive (and very brief) history of the Ouroboros


ouroboros and book covers

In my novel, The Ouroboros Key, the symbol is the Ring of Unity created by Tiamet and Enki to aid in bringing unity to the world of humanity.

Wikipedia will tell you that the Ouroboros originated in Ancient Egypt and represented cyclic recreation.

It is also known as the Ring of Unity, which we first hear about in Ancient Sumeria (read Realm of the Ringlords: beyond the portal of the twilight world by Laurence Gardner).

The ring is depicted as a snake or serpent holding its tail in its mouth.

ouroboros symbol

This same “ring” (according to the late Laurence Gardner) is the basis of most ring-lore in legend and history including references in The Lord of the Rings books by LRR Tolkien and The Ring Cycle by Richard Wagner.



For further reading, try: realm of the ringlords

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram?


soc  med logos

Which do you like to use best?

I love to write so naturally, blogging is up the top of my list. However, and perhaps in a contradictory way, when it comes to social media I use Twitter the most. It’s quick, easy, and I can communicate much faster with people than I can on any other social media or blog platform.

I have Facebook and Pinterest accounts, which I regularly use and also an Instagram account floating around somewhere, but for some reason these don’t work as well for me. Content seems to be an issue with Facebook as I can’t quite manage much in the way of engagement. I’m not sure if that’s because the majority of the likers are from a program I signed up for a while ago which offered  “likes for likes”. That is, I like other author facebook pages and they like me in return. It boosted my numbers, but the authors rarely participate any further. I am guilty of that as well – if their pages don’t interest me, I don’t click on their posts. However, when they do (and there are a number who post great images and funny quotes), I definitely will hit the “like” button.  Obviously, I am doing something not quite right as my images and quotes are only being clicked on by people who know me personally (thanks, extended family).

The funny thing is that I manage another Facebook page (Abandoned Australia) and it attracts lots of engagement. The difference between the two is content and, I believe, duplication. There are loads of authors on Facebook trying to promote themselves. I’m just one little tadpole in a pool overflying with frogs. My alternative page (not an author page) has only a handful of similar pages to compete with. In that pool, I’m at least at the frog status.

Facebook is more complicated than Twitter, yet the same issues apply with a slight twist. I’m still a tadpole in a giant pool, but the other tadpoles are all active, more interested in a quick share (retweet), and we have easier access to the frogs.

I have an alternative Twitter identity as well (three in total), which I use to promote #womeninsport, follow social media news, and share anything else I find interesting. This twitter account is very active and is not connected at all to Facebook. Through this account, I run a couple of online Paperli newspapers and communicate with several contacts from the world of women’s sport. I manage all my Twitter feeds through the Hootsuite dashboard (which I’ve written about before: TrishAnders) and I can easily use it across multiple devices – pc, Ipad, and Iphone.

Ease of connection across devices is another reason I find Twitter more enjoyable. I always have my phone and there are always people posting tweets I’m interested in.

Pinterest is another thing entirely. While quite addictive, I use pinterest more as an archive of images I find interesting – photography, paintings, quotes, design, fashion, food. My boards are built around my author identity and I have feeds that collect images to do with the settings in my novel (and future stories), food from the regions mentioned in the novel, inspirational quotes for writers (and readers, and basically anything I find inspirational), writer’s nooks, etc. Again, I can whip out my phone, scroll through the accounts I’m following and quickly pin the images I like. My pins go directly to my Twitter account so that helps keep me active there as well.

pinterest board

As an author, I just don’t find Instagram that useful. Any images I take while doing authorly-type activities I post straight to Twitter and Facebook. There’s not that many so maintaining another account is not worth it (I’d much rather be tweeting about the latest news in netball or women’s footy or sharing interesting links to writing competitions, festivals, and useful articles).

I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences with any of the above social media or about platforms I’m not currently involved in so if you have information and links to share please leave a comment. You don’t have to be an author. I’m interested in who uses what and why…