Some people were surprised here at LIVENEWS.com.au when readers’ comments started appearing on our site defending the two young people who drowned at Lurline Bay at the weekend.
“The media always get it wrong! These were not spray painting hooligans,” One post by Victor ZML said.
“They were respected Sydney Cave Clan members. Show some respect and do a bit of research first. They were just going to show their respect to Predator, the founder of the Sydney Cave Clan.”
My colleagues have since been in contact with the famously secretive Cave Clan who deny those involved were members of the group - but it should come as no surprise that the three were urban explorers.
Why else would they be spray painting somewhere where only those who go underground will see it?
Nor is it any surprise there are people out there who want to do such things. In today’s sanitised world of entertainment ‘options’, where young people are bombarded with DVDs, internet sites and ultra slick recreational venues, it’s not a shock that some choose to go out and do something for themselves.
To do something other than simply sit still and consume.
It was the same urge to escape the same over produced, fluoro-coloured world of advertising bumf that spawned the illegal rave culture in the early 1990s - when young people got together and decided they’d rather make their own fun than be sold ‘experiences’ by slick marketing executives.
These Cave Clan boys and girls have seen a side of Sydney that most of us will never know. From Sydney Water’s network of drains and gigantic cisterns - to the secret three-level WWII bunker underneath Bankstown.
From the miles of phone line tunnels which stretch across the city, to the abandoned train tunnels at St James and Wynyard, which still have the long ago forgotten remnants of the police firing ranges and bomb shelters they once were.
They make a business of breaking into abandoned warehouses, ships and other sites to explore where they really shouldn’t.
And it shouldn’t be any surprise images of these 100 odd techno savvy explorers, proficient in abseiling and caving, litter the internet.
Now it seems clear, after my anonymous discussions with Cave Clan members, the two killed were not Clan members, but part of a parallel underground community of graffiti artists.
They ventured into ‘the fortress’; two kilometres of caverns and drains which includes steel ladders which drop climbers down 10 storey drops, long slides which can be ridden on boogie boards and a memorial to the Sydney Cave Clan founder Mike Carlton.
They broke the first rule of urban explorers: ‘if it rains, no drains’. And by their amateurish attempt to imitate their more experienced friends in the Cave Clan they ended up bringing the whole community into disrepute. A community, let’s not forget, who helped the state government in 2005 in locating hidden tunnels that could be used by terrorists.
In short, I’m not suggesting we should mourn them as heroes. But the least we can probably do is stop calling them sauced-up graffiti artists. They were part of a quirky underground community of people who celebrate something many of us never see.