Quarry Watch 12/09 and 16/09

6:00 pm: Nothing - just crows and cockatoos. Another soccer match is on.

6:23 pm: I can hear a strange alarm sound, like a high-pitched police siren, but I doubt it's from the quarry. I can't tell where it's from because it echoes throughout the valley. It stopped after 30 seconds.

6:28 pm: The alarm has started again, and stopped after 30 seconds. Maybe from a nearby factory?

6:29 pm: The alarm is back, and again, it lasted for 30 seconds. How annoying (for me, for the residents, for the dogs in the area who don't seem to enjoy it).

6:31 pm: Can this alarm stop? Seems to have a pattern to it. A car just drove past me really slowly and the people in it stared at me and then turned right to go downhill and through the dead-end/roundabout, still driving slowly.

6:36 pm: This is the most uneventful visit yet, which I didn't expect because it's a Friday night and the weather is great.

6:43 pm: A car drives along Halong Drive and I get excited thinking maybe they're visiting the quarry but it's probably just someone returning home.

6:46 pm: Another car does the same as the above but in the opposite direction.

6:50 pm: Nothing has happened for a few minutes now. I am still surprised at how dull this evening has been. Maybe I've come here too early in the evening? I would visit later but the warning from the security guard has put me off coming here too late.  

7:00 pm: Home time.


6:45 pm: I arrive and park my car in the usual spot. There is a single car parked at the dead-end street. No soccer tonight so it's quite dark.

6:58 pm: A silver 4WD ute drives past me and turns left up the hill, before doing a three-point turn and driving back downhill towards the roundabout/dead-end. They slowed down when going around the roundabout and drove away. I wonder if they're disturbed by the presence of the other car there.

7:01 pm: The occupant of the car mentioned at 6:45 pm exits their vehicle. They walk towards the barrier separating the street and the quarry and stand there. Something about their movements makes their presence seem a bit strange.

7:04 pm: Two different cars drive past the roundabout. As soon as they're out of view, the aforementioned individual gets back into their car and drives away. Are they irritated by the amount of vehicular traffic?

7:07 pm: A cyclist appears - at least, I think they're a cyclist. Their bike is making a strange noise (almost crunchy) and they're quite low to the ground. Is it one of those bizarre tiny motorbikes? A car is tailing them quite closely and the whole thing seems really weird.

7:13 pm: The mysterious bike, and the silver 4WD ute from before, are going in circles around the roundabout. Another car has appeared and is following them closely.

7:31 pm: Nothing.

7:36 pm: The bike person has appeared near my car! They just walked up the hill with their bike and rode back down again. It's dark so I can't see their bike very well but it's not a normal-looking bike.

7:45 pm: Nothing else happens for the night. I've heard this weird noise during the past few visits, kind of like a rock hitting rock (or potentially metal-on-metal) but I attributed it to the soccer ground. There's no soccer on tonight but the sound is still happening which makes me wonder what it actually is, as it's coming from the general direction of the big flooded quarry. It could be a gate at a nearby factory but why would it be that loud and repetitive? If it was a gate swinging shut from the wind I would understand but I've heard it on clear, still nights, so I don't know.

At this point, while driving down the hill, I see the aforementioned bike plus the silver ute and the other mystery car that followed them around for a while. It looks like a family have congregated to watch their child ride his bike around (a closer look at the bike reveals it's one of those low-rider stunt things with plastic wheels). I think they've been towing him with a rope because the silver 4WD ute has a really long length of rope attached to the back. A strange choice of activity for a dark Tuesday night but it looks pretty fun and they've chosen a good space for the activity - I'm glad there's an innocent explanation for this.

A boring post about idiopathic condylar resorption

I probably wrote about this very briefly in another post but my original intentions for writing a blog were motivated by my jaw disease. Obviously I haven't written much about this (mainly because 99.9% of the treatment is "wait and see" and I can't get any content out of that) but I intend to now, solely so that anyone else going through the same thing can search "idiopathic condylar resorption" and stumble across this (that's your cue to stop reading if you're not interested). Very altruistic of me (but not really since I'm just writing about myself from this point onwards). Anyway, I had my annual check-up today which involved getting three OPGs done of my face and the general consensus is that my disease is worse than ever, and potentially the most severe case ever encountered by my surgeon. Everyone (surgeon, orthodontist, GP) assumed the disease had stabilised and that any jaw pain was most likely from clenching due to stress but this has been thoroughly dismissed now and we're most likely looking at surgery after my condyles have resorbed completely, which is probably the worst outcome possible. I didn't expect this to be the case after having my open bite/overbite measured last week by my orthodontist as all signs pointed to stable but I guess the measurements were slightly off? At least this provides an explanation for the jaw pain and general weakness and fatigue I've been experiencing lately, and why talking and eating are gradually becoming the most arduous tasks in the world. Oh well. I would probably be less annoyed if there was an explanation for this (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis in the condyle/s) but every relevant test so far indicates perfect health (that being said I have a genetics appointment on November 25 to see if I have Ehlers Danlos syndrome).

How boring and sorry for the above but I hope at least one person attempts to research their condition and comes across this and feels a certain solidarity (in which case I invite any and all comments/questions). I would post a photo of the OPGs but I forgot to ask for a copy. Back to regular programming now...


Notes from today

6:30 pm - Nothing. I think there's a car down near the roundabout but I can't tell. Soccer match is on tonight.

6:43 pm - A white 4WD appears! It came from the riparian woodland alongside the river. A group of cockatoos took offence to this and made a lot of noise, so naturally, every dog in the neighbourhood started barking. I can hear a loud acceleration noise - the 4WD is out of view, and this is mere speculation, but I wonder if they're trying to drive up a steep rock wall (the one with the mangled fence) to leave via RVE.

6:46 pm - Police helicopter appears in the distance. The accelerating noise has stopped and I can't see the 4WD. I wonder where it went. Maybe the driver was spooked by the helicopter.

6:49 pm - A different white 4WD goes past me but it was a Range Rover and I highly doubt someone will be driving one of those around a quarry.

6:50 pm - The original white 4WD is back! They've turned around and gone back to the trees by the river. The tail lights on their car are out, which makes me wonder whether it's a purposely acquired vehicle for this kind of activity (I can imagine they'd have a 'Mud pig' bumper sticker). There is a huge discrepancy between the 'height' of the one operational light on the back of their car and their headlights - where they're driving seems unpleasantly steep.

6:52 pm - The 4WD has completely disappeared into the trees as I can't see headlights anymore. This strikes me as really odd because it's quite dark right now. 

7:04 pm - Nothing happening. Three planes have flown over since the last update which is a lot, and I can now see why RVE is under an airport overlay. I hope the residents have soundproofed homes.

7:12 pm - Two cars go past the dead-end street but continue along Halong Drive. One drives past me. I'm starting to think this is common practice.

7:14 pm - I can't help but ruminate over where the 4WD could've gone. Were they unable to exit via RVE, for whatever reason? I'm curious as to whether there's an informal road that leads elsewhere (the petrol station near my old house in St. Albans had a little dirt track leading from the truck parking bay to the eastern edge of the Kealba Quarry and then under the E.J. Whitten bridge to the Maribyrnong River. I remember seeing people on dirt bikes there when I was a kid. I think it is also a favoured spot for arsonists in summer because the scrub there burns very easily - wait actually a further search brings up this forum post which supports the existence of the track so yes there is an alternative way out). 

7:20 pm - I can hear someone yelling aggressively in the distance. I think this is probably from the soccer ground.

7:30 pm - I exit RVE via the dead-end street/roundabout configuration. The car I thought I maybe saw in my first note turns out to be real! A dark blue Holden station wagon, relatively new, and exuding a very strong "unmarked cop car" vibe (but if they were police, wouldn't they have noted me? It does provide a good reason for the 4WD acting strangely though).

That's it for now. My next visit will be Friday afternoon. I also just came across this, which was published recently, while looking for more information about 4WD activity in the area. I can see why the security guard warned me about creeps. Reminds me of hiking at Werribee Gorge a few years ago and some rabbit hunters came out of nowhere with gigantic crossbows and blood-stained clothing and it was really unpleasant. 

I have a soft spot for things in supermarkets being put in places they don't belong


Sunday at the quarry

I can't be bothered turning this into a narrative so I have just typed my notes verbatim. The visit was productive and I look forward to returning on a weekday afternoon to see what kind of things happen then. I have been ruminating over the lateness of my visit on Friday night and whether I should attempt anything like this again and I think probably not (even though I would really like to) just because of safety reasons (but that makes me feel like I'm missing out on a whole lot of weird things that would be interesting to observe so I don't know). Maybe I can compensate for the lack of nighttime observations with information provided to me by Sunshine police. So far the developers of RVE have ignored my attempts to contact them but I may physically attend their sales office in the coming week.

I think I forgot to mention this but I have been told by Brimbank CC that any information I want must be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and therefore costs real money. I don't know if this is for real or just an excuse to get me to stop calling them. I'm going to the VU library again tomorrow to read through some final things and when I do, I'll wrote the biggest blog post ever about it, because I've discovered so many interesting things. I guess the challenge here lies in actually integrating these findings into my thesis rather than stating a series of facts but I guess the difference there is a critical analysis of the things I have discovered.

Anyway, the point of this post is the quarry, so here you go:

3:45 pm - I arrive at the quarry. There are 3 trail bikes on a small plateau about 150m from the dead-end street (where a blue Mazda is parked).

3:51 pm - A small white car arrives, and parks next to the other car. A couple exit the vehicle and walk around, crossing the mangled fence and walking about 10 metres into the quarry site. They mostly just looked around.

3:53 pm - A mother and her two small children walk over from Halong Drive and explore the fence line. The youngest picks up a plastic bag and takes it with him. The couple from the white car return to their vehicle and stand next to it talking. 

3:56 pm - The couple get into their car and leave. I wonder whether they're considering buying property in the area, or whether they were there for the quarry. 

3:57 pm - The mother and her two children walk back up the hill. Four young adults, who I didn't see before, walk out of the quarry hole towards the trail bikes and continue uphill towards SH, before changing course and walking out onto the first terraced ledge of the quarry (closest to the water). The quarry looks larger than usual with a group of people providing scale.

3:59 pm - Distant motorbike sounds (I can't see anything, though - probably coming from the other side of the river or dense shrubbery on the quarry side).

4:00 pm - A black Mercedes arrives. The driver of the vehicle slows down and gestures repeatedly to his passenger, pointing at the quarry. He drives away.

4:01 pm - More motorbike sounds. Two members of the quarry ledge group return to their bikes.

4:02 pm - A small black car with a half-open boot containing building materials arrives and proceeds to park perpendicular to the other cars at the dead-end. 

4:05 pm - A trail bike rider (perhaps relating to the above motorbike sounds) exits the quarry, driving over the mangled fence. They disappear down Halong Dr. The black car full of building materials leaves. I don't know whether these materials were new or used/going to be thrown away.

4:09 pm - Two sports cars arrive in a row, driven by a male and a female. An old man walks past my car. The two sports cars park next to the blue car noted above. A male exits one vehicle and proceeds to punch (jokingly or seriously?) the car tailing him. A young woman then gets out of her car, speaks with the male, and places her handbag in the boot. 

4:12 pm - The two drivers set off to explore the quarry on foot. They enter the site with some confidence, like they've been here before (as contrasted with the other couple, who seemed to exhibit some trepidation).

4:13 pm - Those on the quarry ledge walk back to their trail bikes, although a member of the group has been left behind. He sits alone while the couple wave at the rest of his group - they proceed to greet each other and begin socialising. 

4:15 pm - The now-larger group walk slightly downhill and are out of view. The couple follow those who have already been at the site for quite some time.

4:16 pm - The group now begin walking uphill to SH. 

4:17 pm - The group stop on a small slope; they look around and point out various things to each other (I wish I knew what). Most of them seem well-acquainted with the area.

4:18 pm - The group slowly descend.

4:20 pm - The group return to the trail bike plateau. The group member left on the ledge is still there, sitting motionless on a large piece of basalt.

4:21 pm - The group now return to the ledge. There is a motorbike noise to the north-east of the site. Ascertaining the true location of this noise is difficult given most sounds tend to echo throughout the valley.

4:23 pm - All group members are now on the ledge, but one individual decides to return to their car.

4:24 pm - A young male drives down the street (Rivervalley Boulevard) in a Burgundy sedan. He does a full loop of the roundabout and drives past me slowly, before pulling over to the left about 100 m up the hill. He proceeds to park in a driveway (for an unsold and empty block of land) directly in front of me. 

4:26 pm - Quarry lurker who returned to their car now back with the rest of their group.

4:27 pm - A silver car arrives, driving slowly and probably looking at property. It does not stop and leaves almost immediately (unsurprising - there isn't much to see if you're not into quarries). The people on the ledge are still there: someone is yelling and others are laughing. I can hear the motorbike again.

4:28 pm - This burgundy sedan is still parked in front of me. I can see the driver looking back towards me every now and then. I wonder what their deal is.

4:30 pm - A motorbike drives up Halong Dr, crosses the mangled fence (sorry - there's no better way to describe it, so get used to hearing 'mangled fence') and stops.

4:32 pm - The bike person proceeds to join the ledge group. There are now five people there.

4:33 pm - Another bike person appears! This seems to be a popular activity. Makes sense given the good weather (and lack of mud). They don't make contact with the group.

4:34 pm - Two men walk downhill from the more developed part of RVE. As they do so, they pass the burgundy car, which leaves almost immediately. The driver does not go past me (or the quarry) again, instead opting to drive straight to Duke St.

4:35 pm - The ledge group begin throwing stones into the quarry. Some guy in a white shirt is the main instigator of this as he picks up stones and begins hurling them into the water. Others start joining in as they begin walking south along the quarry ledge.

4:39 pm - The group are still throwing rocks. A few cockatoos are bothered by this and fly away from the quarry in a panic. 

4:41 pm - A young family walk along Halong Dr and briefly towards the quarry before changing direction and walking uphill.

4:42 pm - The group catch on to the idea that rock size = splash size. They start lifting heavier rocks and throwing them in, while two individuals decide to sit on the very edge and push loose stones with their feet (the thought of this makes me feel so uneasy). They're still laughing and yelling.

4:44 pm - They're still going. I would love to hang around and see if anyone eventually falls in or does something stupid but I have a birthday dinner to go to. So far they're having a great time which makes me wonder if they come here every weekend to do this kind of thing. I know I would if I had more spare time. It's kind of cool that they feel such ownership over the space that they just leave their motorbikes and related gear on their little plateau while they explore the area.

That was boring so I'll make up for it with photos:

This picture has no purpose I just thought the bird was cool 
Tyre marks on the roundabout
CCTV cameras installed somewhat recently
A crow and some new signage. A lot of the trash and some of the concrete pipes have been removed
Poor fence
Such a mangled fence (if you look closely you can only just see the shaded plateau thing where the motorbikes were) 
Relatively clean (the pile of crud is the concrete pipes)
Useless fence
New signs!(!!!!!) which were definitely not there last time I was here during the day 
More tyre marks (I'm going to assume 4WDs) plus you can see how far away the closest houses are (the last few times I visited, I've parked up near the house in the middle) 
What a nice day to be at the quarry


Quarry 1 am

I initially planned to visit the quarry around 8 pm this evening. I obviously changed my mind and decided that 1 am would be a little more interesting (particularly on a Friday/Saturday). I wasn't too wrong in assuming this. Upon arriving, I noticed a white car parked next to the dead-end street barrier closest to the quarry lake, and some mysterious person in a white shirt roaming around. They almost immediately went back to their car and left which was a little odd. My initial thoughts drifted to two things: someone being dodgy, and someone there for an official reason. In the case of the latter, I figured they'd probably drive over to me ASAP and demand to know why I, girl in a Saab 900i, have chosen to visit RVE at 1 am on a Saturday morning. This didn't immediately occur, but after about 15 minutes, I saw headlights come towards me around the corner. It turned out to be a security guard, so I wasn't too wrong - they seemed relatively wary and didn't want to get out of their own car. He explained he had to make a report to his superiors about anyone he comes across in RVE but was relatively sympathetic because he had also recently completed his Masters and understood that research involves this kind of tedious stuff (he actually told me to revise my methodology). I asked if he'd like to be interviewed and he said yes pending the approval of his employer (note to David: apparently you will be getting an email from this person [I offered him my email but he really wanted to email you? I dont know but OK]). 

This is where it gets interesting (well, more so): he went on to tell me what kind of things happen at RVE and it's actually a lot worse than what I imagined (and what tends to be portrayed in the few Herald Sun/Brimbank Leader articles published about the issue). Aggressive hoons are a huge issue, and the security guard warned me to stay away on this basis - he demonstrated how they tend to block/ram cars in the area which interrupt/surveil their activity, and said I probably wouldn't be as lucky as him in the same situation because at least he has a CB radio and can call for help. He had encountered a few 4WDs only minutes earlier driving around Solomon Heights which bothered him. He also kept repeating the fact that, if anything happened, nobody would find me until morning (this doesn't inspire a lot of confidence). I can't help but wonder if this is mere speculation or based on an actual incident. Aside from that, apparently a lot of drug deals happen there (a totally moronic idea given all the CCTV cameras) and it's some kind of hookup spot and generally a magnet for freaks. He recommended that RVE should be totally avoided after 7 pm. I left soon after, having only observed RVE for 30 minutes.

I am too tired to write properly hence the strangely robotic nature of the two rambling paragraphs above. 

From my visit to the VU library today - if you can't tell, SH, RVE and the northern section of Sunshine North are all marked as public open space as late as 1984.

Note crossing #2

Good weather today

Former Forges warehouse turning into a Bunnings which blocks my view of the Newport power station so I don't like it


First evening observation

I went to the quarry after sunset and stayed for an hour (from 6:45 pm until 7:45 pm). The weather was pleasant (good, clear and still - I just thought I should make a note of this). I parked at the corner of Rice Flower Rd and Riverbend Way which gave me a reasonable view of the quarry 'entrance' (i.e. dead-end road). The first half-hour was uneventful. A soccer match was on at the Melbourne Knights football ground and their stadium lighting conveniently illuminated the quarry walls and surrounding area (this was also a bad thing [the soccer match not the lighting], which I will mention in detail later).

At 7:13 pm, a car (dark station wagon) drove down Rivervalley Boulevard and slowed down at the roundabout, continuing further along Halong Drive. I thought this was a bit weird because there are more direct ways to get to RVE (turning right on Sunnybank Rise) which don't involve driving downhill and uphill again. A second car (black 4WD with super tinted windows) did this at 7:15 pm and went back uphill via Rice Flower Rd into Riverbend Way (driving straight past me) which is really weird. Either they intended on doing something suss, noticed me and kept driving in order to avoid surveillance, or it's a less engine-destroying way to get to the lower streets of RVE (Sunnybank Rise is incredibly steep - a quick calculation based on a counter map reveals a gradient of 23% - but this doesn't occur until half-way down the street which means that the movements of the second car were essentially redundant and petrol-wasting, unless they know something I don't know). Maybe I'm reading too much into this so I'll just leave that observation there.

Things got exciting at 7:16 pm when a white ute full of rubbish appeared and parked at the dead-end next to the barrier. The contents of the ute tray appeared to mostly be whitegoods. It sat there idling for 3 minutes, at which point the driver turned an interior car light, opened the door and got out. They stood around next to the barrier for a while. Nothing happened for a long time (maybe they saw me?) but around 7:28 pm, there was a distinct and very bizarre sounding noise - a little squeal, kind of baby animalish, short and sharp (I can't help but wonder if this was a fox?). A few seconds later, the ute driver went back to their vehicle and reversed (maybe they got spooked by the weird noise), leaving via Halong Drive (a strange thing to do because the gradient of Rivervalley Boulevard is much more gentle and less populated than the part of RVE oriented towards the Maribyrnong River, so if they had strange plans it would've made sense for them to leave that way? After all, they did come from that street...).

Roughly around 7:34 pm I heard the distinct noise of a rock hitting another rock but I couldn't tell if this was due to some kind of natural process (unstable quarry wall?) or maybe some soccer-related noise. This is where I'm going to elaborate on the soccer match being a bad thing - for some reason there was a lot of yelling and whatnot which obviously echoed and therefore made me think there were screaming sounds coming from the quarry until I realised they were merely sport noises. I think next time I'll make sure there isn't a soccer match on when I visit.

I also took my camera with me but I stupidly forgot my tripod, which resulted in some very grainy images (the premise behind taking my camera being that a long exposure reveals a lot more than what the eye can see at nighttime - this was helpful because I saw a strange light when I first parked my car and thought it was a person using their phone as a flashlight but turns out it was a reflective sticker on a substation box).

That's mostly it for now. I think I'll go back in the late afternoon tomorrow.


Today at the quarry

I went to the southernmost quarry site today and walked around for a bit and it was quite strange. I didn't see anyone doing anything suss (or anyone at all) but a ute did slow down and stop next to me so I stopped walking and looked at them and they reversed back and forth for a little bit and then drove off, went around the corner and came back only to pull up in someone's driveway. 

Despite that, compared to RVE, this area seems a lot more tame. The fence around the quarry site is in very poor condition and has numerous holes cut into it, which leads me to think people want to get in (they don't look very new, though). I assume any visitors would generally explore on foot which might also explain how wonderfully green the place is - no stolen cars or rubbish to be seen. I wonder whether the steep gradient and overgrown weeds would be prohibitive to the dirt bikes which plague Solomon Heights and RVE/the flooded quarry. The proximity of homes to the quarry edge could also aid in discouraging antisocial activity but I'm yet to see this in practice (i.e. I'll go there at nighttime for some site observation soon). As a general summary, I think this quarry hole feels a lot more urban, and the distinction between private and public space is less blurred (despite all the informal entrances) compared to the RVE that slowly dissipates into bushland and basalt (also, this particular quarry has roads on 2 sides of it and houses on the other 2 - meaning, loads of passive surveillance which could discourage trespassers [during the day at least]). 

When I started my research, I figured I'd pay equal attention to all 3 quarry holes - I've since realised that one is partially filled (boring) and the aforementioned quarry hole is virtually inaccessible (unless one is feeling particularly adventurous), leaving the huge flooded quarry next to RVE the main point of interest. I'm mostly just writing this down now so I don't forget to discuss this at some point in my thesis (i.e. justifying the emphasis on this particular space). 

I nearly forgot, but when I got back to my car there were 12 crows surrounding it. Earlier today I also saw a crow in a nest full of baby crows, and 2 days ago I came across a group of 4 crows sitting on a nature strip watching me, and the day before that I saw 10 crows at uni hanging out together. I wonder if this is a response to the recent good weather i.e. they are suddenly incredibly sociable

Raining in Footscray today
Cool house on my way to the quarry
I dropped my phone a few weeks ago and ever since then, a strange little purple artefact has been showing up in my photos. This is one example

How good is this
The letterbox of a house I walked past with some bonus fixture


In which I visit RVE again

Just a quick update but I distributed the letters inviting people to participate in my research/be interviewed, and it was good fun. I actually really like the RVE area and would probably live there if I had a lot of money. The view is unlike anything else. I finished distributing the letters just after sunset and it was eerie walking back to my car via the undeveloped part of RVE. A huge section of the land has no houses, just broken glass all over the streets and rabbits everywhere and CCTV cameras pointing at nothing in particular. It was also windier than I expected for the bottom of a valley. The final few raucous calls of a cockatoo flock settling in some nearby gums only further contributed to the weird vibe (and let's not get started on the distant sounds of Western Ring Road and freight trains). 

Josh walked with me and was really tired by this point so I left him at the dead-end roundabout thing while I walked to the car which was parked at the top of the hill (I actually did ask him whether he was concerned by this and he said he wasn't worried and that most likely nothing would happen - foreshadowing...) and by the time I got there and began to drive back down, he had already walked 3/4 of the way up the hill because he was spooked by a bunch of people with flashlights walking around and then a small blue car being driven down by the quarry lake. Even worse, a car drove past me as I was walking back to my car, and I asked if Josh had seen it and he said no (but it would've had to drive past him...? Spooky). 

Also, I spoke with some residents (Sunday afternoon is good for hanging out letters because everyone's garage doors are open) and they are enthusiastic about being interviewed (one guy wanted to be interviewed right then and there, and said it was unfortunate that I had just missed a huge group of motorcyclists leaving the quarry). 

I can see why many of the empty blocks of land here remain undeveloped and unsold... seems like levelling the block would be a hassle 
Spot the cat
Gotta love these giant chunks of basalt hanging out on the footpath 
There were cameras EVERYWHERE. It was so strange. They weren't there last time
You can barely see the cockatoo family. How good is that giant bunch of trees 

Imagine having to dig through that basalt to make the block suitable for a house