Is This The Best Dam Spot Ever?
South-Eastern Australian concrete apes
Words and photos by Dave Cragg Additional photos Benn Pigot / Joel Ruggiero
WATER An essential for human civilisation. One of the primary building blocks of our existence. Access to abundant clean water has and continues to be a critical engagement between humanity and the environment. Manmade aqueducts, canals, reservoirs, drains, ditches, pipes, pools, ponds and dams all play their part in capturing, mitigating and dispersing rainfall, as well as the wastewater we create.
Using our new 'smart' technology, namely satellite maps, we can look for geographic patterns throughout populated areas that often yield similar results. For example, populated areas that are topographically low and flat will often possess large storm-water infrastructure. Looking to the wilderness, similar methods of research can quickly and easily present the colossal dams that store water to keep entire cities supplied, entire agriculture sectors irrigated as well as creating hydro electricity, environmental flows and mitigating floodwaters.
The ability to seek out these places online has led to many 'new' dam walls, drains, pipes and other concrete structures being 'discovered'. Some of these spillway walls have been hiding out in the middle of nowhere for up to 100 years, rarely visited and some almost abandoned. Visiting these places often feels like entering a strange time warp, and the massive nature reserves that surround these places creates even more of an eery isolated vibe.
To find places like this, simply do some research regarding what dam or reservoir supplies the water for your town. Look at the place via satellite maps. Google image search photos of the spillway. If it looks like there is even a slight chance of something being rideable, go and check! You may find fences, security, damn officials, but even if these obstacles arise, there are ways around. Look into the operating hours of the place. Check if they ever have tours of the place, gather all the information you can and use it to your advantage.
The images of this spillway wall are the result of a bunch of online trawling regarding the state water supply. Over a year ago my lady Jess and I did a 'scope out' mission that basically involved climbing in, walking up to the pumping station and finding dam workers onsite. With a bit of quick thinking and friendly banter we managed to be given an in-depth tour of the facility, during which we managed to find out what times of week the dam was unstaffed.
After a year of procrastination regarding the mission, Benn and myself recently plotted our plan of attack to ride the beast. We then realized we'd be nearby another troupe of traveling hessians, headed for a different but similarly awe-inspiring piece of infrastructure. With that, a week of exploring the high country begun. Beginning with a quick afternoon session at a smaller, well known rural dam overflow, we then headed further into the scrub, with day two involving a successful infiltration of the huge, unridden spillway. After several days slowly venturing south, with days wholly dedicated to swimming in rivers and relaxing in the woods, we finished up at the pipe, another secret delicacy of the South-Eastern Australian concrete ape.
The crew that came together for a session in the pipe were from all over, both the country and the globe. While some chose to spend their time far, far away from civilisation relaxing in the natural surrounds and getting cooked, others were present with no other intention than putting in the work necessary to get the pipe running. Thanks to a small number of absolute legends, the water flow in the pipe was dammed and kept at bay for 2 days of solid shredding. To all the freeloaders that came and took runs in the pipe after doing basically nothing, I love you guys, but can only hope you learn how to pick up a bucket or shovel next time around.
Much to the enjoyment of our new found friends Pete and Andrew, nobody came out in a stretcher and to top it all off, Beech handplanted the pipe. The journey into these far away places is half the reason to go, and the spoils that await are the cherry on top. Get out there exploring. - DC
"To all the freeloaders that came and took runs in the pipe after doing basically nothing, I love you guys, but can only hope you learn how to pick up a bucket or shovel next time around."
"Visiting these places often feels like entering a strange time warp, and the massive nature reserves that surround these places creates even more of an eery isolated vibe."
"The journey into these far away places is half the reason to go, and the spoils that await are the cherry on top. Get out there exploring"
"BMX will never owe me anything..."
"Nothing's ever the same and nothing's ever perfect... even when it is."