Wet wet wet Wollongong

It has taken weeks to dry out my clothes, painting materials, sleeping gear + entire car following the wettest painting session I’ve ever undertaken, in NSW’s Wollongong + surrounds. But the fun I had by far eclipsed the drenching I endured. The Illawarra region is utterly beautiful, full of fascinating places natural + industrial, + filled with wonderful warm folk  with whom I shared many good times.

On arrival, I watched stormclouds loom, + quickly hunted around town for some suitable places to make quick paintings:

Street painting

Street painting

The rain started to fall as I finished my last throwie. Over the following couple of days I watched the downpour from an enormous empty warehouse, generously loaned to me by artist Poncho Army, where I could paint some panels for Wollongong in comfort. The rain wasn’t going to beat me.

Pig Burden: aerosol + acrylic paint on board: panel for Pig Alley, Wollongong

Pig Burden: aerosol + acrylic paint on board: panel for Pig Alley, Wollongong

Deerhunter: acrylic paint on warehouse wall: Coniston, Wollongong

Deerhunter: acrylic paint on warehouse wall, Wollongong

I also painted a mural at The Little Prince, a super local cafe/bar/restaurant which was deceptively quiet during the day, then overflowing with fun folk in the evenings.

Mural for The Little Prince, Wollongong: aerosol on wall

Mural for The Little Prince, Wollongong: aerosol on wall

After nearly a week of constant torrential downpour, complete with dam-bursts, rock-falls, closed roads + widespread flooding (I was unlucky enough to visit during a weather inversion, where the rain was trapped in the region, circling around + around, unable to dissipate), I decided to try to drive above the clouds, up into the Highlands, to escape the soggy weather. I was so glad that I did…

A few years ago I had read about an enormous abandoned factory high up in the NSW mountains; while trying to escape the rain I was lucky enough to find the property, in the centre of a large field, ringed by forest, solemnly overlooking the townsfolk who went about their business oblivious to its dark, looming presence.  And the rain had stopped.

Kaffcouch, abandoned complex, Southern Highlands NSW

Kaffcouch, abandoned complex, Southern Highlands NSW

Stately abandoned property, Southern Highlands NSW

Stately abandoned property, Southern Highlands NSW

Kafficorn: aerosol on wall, abandoned complex, Southern Highlands NSW

Kafficorn: aerosol on wall, abandoned complex, Southern Highlands NSW

I would have liked to have stayed longer, but local security was enthusiastic + tenacious, so I returned to the sodden township at the base of the mountains, thankful to have had a break from rainfall for a few hours at least.

The ‘Bread and Butter’ art event scheduled towards the end of my Wollongong week event gave me a superfun chance to talk alongside Ears, Apeseven + Poncho Army about my art career,  + also live paint with Apeseven + Poncho Army throughout the day. It was a fun, social way to wrap up my time in the region.

Live painting with Apeseven + Poncho Army, Wollongong

Live painting with Apeseven + Poncho Army, Wollongong

On my last morning in Wollongong, I awoke to silence: no drumming of rain on the roof, it had finally ceased! I emerged from the house + was met with brilliant blue skies + warm sunshine, the region’s parting gift to me.  I had been wanting to use a nearby piece of hard rubbish as a canvas for a portrait of Ludwig, the beautiful Boxer who had (along with his owners)  welcomed me into his home, but until now the rain had prevented me. Very quickly,  I scrawled his lovely face on the table, + left his happy family for a quick explore of the region before heading home.

Quick throwie on a rain-soaked table, with model Ludwig posing handsomely

Quick throwie on a rain-soaked table, with model Ludwig posing handsomely

I found an incredibly beautiful installation in nearby Port Kembla; on a clifftop overlooking a thundering ocean sat an army of stark white pyramids. They were not accompanied by any signage or explanation, + while I imagined a variety of celestial or otherwordly  purposes, I later discovered that they were tank barriers, placed in the shallows to prevent tanks coming ashore during World War II.  Practical in origin, but no less magical in effect.

Spectacular Port Kembla pyramids

Spectacular Port Kembla pyramids

While driving to a nearby lookout on the road home, I came across a burned-out car, the smell of freshly charred  rubber + plastic still lingering in the calm morning air. After a quick painting I drove away, planning to return shortly + take a photo with the car in the full sun; instead, with incredibly good/bad timing, I returned 20 minutes later to the sight of the car being towed!

Horsepower, Southern Highlands charred roadside wreck

Horsepower, Southern Highlands charred roadside wreck

It was a fantastic week, + I am excited at the prospect of returning to the region later in the year.

A huge thank you to Poncho Army, for organising Bread and Butter, inviting me to the region, offering me your super warehouse/workshop space, + welcoming me into your wonderful home. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

x

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About Kaff-eine


2 responses to “Wet wet wet Wollongong

  • Sy

    I love the impromptu art on the discarded mattress by the side of the road. What an awesome find for someone!!
    And the abandoned warehouse is gorgeous! what is the address for that if you don’t mind. would like to explore myself!

    • Kaff-eine

      Hi Sy, thanks very much, I’m glad you like them! Following the well-established urbex code, I don’t give away the locations of abandoned sites, but it’s in the NSW Southern Highlands, easy to find but not so easy to move about in undetected. Good luck + have fun exploring! 🙂

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