The Rules Of Urban Exploring

by Lori Dwyer on March 29, 2012 · 10 comments

Urban exploration, or urbexing- The examination, exploration and navigation of urban areas and structures that are often unseen, unused or abandoned.

Urban Decay The natural disintegration of man-made structures and objects.


I’ve taken up a new hobby lately- a bit of urban exploration. I caught the bug the moment I entered that desolate house stopped in time.

The TinyTrainTown and it’s surrounds are like a playground for urban explorers. There’s a stack of old and unused houses, barns, shops and farms to explore. So on the days my kids are in daycare and I can avoid doing serious adult-type things, I go urbex-ing- camera always in hand.

It’s not about ghosts…. not now, not the way it was Before. It’s about the layers people leave behind, the imprints they leave on the earth. The detritus of human life. History, crumbling and faded.

Hearing the whispers of lives already lived. Picking through pieces of the past; silent underrated homage to ordinary people living every day lives. It quells my boredom and restlessness, allows me to engage some perspective on how blessed my convenient, privileged life is.

It makes me feel alive again, even if it is just living vicariously through the existence of the past.


And, like most things, urbexing has its rules. Some are based in what loose community urban exploration community there is online. Others are just common sense and decency. And it’s probably reasonable to document the rules, as such, if I’m going to be writing my urban expeditions here on my blog.


The rules of urban exploring.

(According to Lori. Who is absolutely no expert on the subject whatsoever.)

Scout it out. Do your research- if you come across somewhere that’s worth exploring, look into it a bit. Google is your friend. Do a daylight recon before a moonlit exploration- rotted floors and spiky bushes are easier to identify by sunlight than flashlight.

Be prepared for consequences. On occasion, getting to where you’re trying to go may involve just a little bit of trespassing. And perhaps some minor break and enter… the kind where you’re cutting through padlocks made entirely of rust. (Not that I’d ever do anything like that. Obviously.) Be realistic- if you do get caught, you will be in a spot of trouble. That’s not the end of the world. You just need to be prepared for the risks and accept the consequences of your actions, should they eventuate.

Respect what’s sacred. That being said, let’s all just be… cool. Breaking into tombs or crypts, vandalism, or pushing your way into areas considered sacred or deeply spiritual? That is not cool.

Shhhhhh…. I know, I know, it’s difficult when you’re proud of yourself and FaceBook pings your location every single place you go; but keep your best urbexing finds as much of a secret as possible. Share only with like minded adventurers- half the fun of urbexing is stepping onto floorboards and watching fifty year old dust resettle. The more people who know about a particular disenfranchised property, the less eremetic it becomes.

Be prepared. For just about anything- but at the very least to get grubby. Pack a torch, thick gloves and long pants, a mobile phone, small first aid kit, gumboots, your camera and your sense of adventure. Best to bring your sense of humour as well, you just never know when you’ll need that.

Never go alone. If it’s daytime and your taking photos from a legal, public location, solo urban exploring is no problem. But if it’s dark or remote or somewhere you shouldn’t be, take at least one person with you, and let at least one other person know where you’re going. Never enter a building alone.

Show some manners. Obviously, this is exploration of places abandoned, not of any property that society still has a vested interest in.

First do no harm. Wherever possible, leave things as you found them, as ensure that any damage caused during entry is minimal.

Be safe, not stupid. It’s natural that there will be some element of risk involved in scoping out places that may have been ravaged- or at the very least nibbled at- by time and weather and neglect. Assess situations as you go. Look up, down and around. There are no prizes here for being brave or jumping high. If there’s a little voice in the back of your mind whispering that maybe that roof will cave in, it’s probably your intuition, which is way smarter than you and has already decided that the odds here are stacked. Listen to that voice. And don’t be afraid to bail- that’s part of playing the game.

Take only photos. And leave nothing but the shadow of your presence. Nothing but another slither of human energy to add to the layers already built.

And that’s that. But hey, I’m new at this… I could have it wrong. I did have one mighty urbexing adventure just recently- let’s call the photos in this post a sneak peak. Details coming soon, I promise.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracy November 14, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I first heard about urbexing from this post and was fascinated by the concept. Yesterday I read this article about a European uber-urbexer Dan Marbaix ( and immediately thought of you. Some of these places are incredible. I loved doing some voyeuristic urbexing through his photographs. Hope you enjoy them too.


Lori Dwyer November 20, 2013 at 9:18 pm

That is so awesome Tracey- thank you for the link! xx


Carolyn March 30, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I have started doing some Urbexing, dragging my poor 77yo mum along for the drive while I, with borrowed camera in hand (which I am refusing to borrow, but that is another story) go exploring townships around Bathurst. We recently did Rockley NSW. My photos were duds really considering I was practicing using manual settings on the camera for my TAFE course. I did the Blast Furnace at Lithgow last year. They were not dud photos cause I used fully automatic settings :p


Melissa March 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Can't WAIT to hear about your most recent adventure :)


Bec G March 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Try and track down 2 books by an author David Morrell… 'Creepers' and 'Scavenger'… my fave author of all time.
Here is the link to his page:


Elizabeth B March 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Sounds really interesting. I have a friend who explores abandoned farmhouses and takes photos. He has a massive collection of them here: He lives in Oklahoma where there are apparently a lot of abandoned places, but I moved to Dallas, Texas four years ago and haven't really explored any place outside the city. Might be a really fun thing to do!


Spinkled March 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm

You beat me to it sidetracked!! Lori will love geocaching. I was going to tell her about it next week when we catch up. The kids will too. It's called treasure hunting in my house and sometimes we dress like pirates when we go ;-) wish I wasn't moving soon. I'd love to explore some of the area with you.


Draft Queen March 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Not sure if asbestos is an issue in old Aussie places, (or possibly other airborne contaminates) but we use face masks with respirators because a good deal of the places we go asbestos is a likely issue. (Mesothelioma is not what we're looking to find.)

Have fun and be careful! :)


Sidetracked March 29, 2012 at 10:53 am

Hi Lori, if you like urbexing (and it sounds like you do), you should look into geocaching at some stage. Basically, it involves using GPS coordinates to find cache containers that other people have hidden. I haven't gotten into it as much as I want as I'm quite busy between work, family and study, but I do manage to sneak off occasionally. Caches hidden in urban environments are a great way to get to learn things about areas you would probably have never found out otherwise. A lot of caches are also hidden on bushwalking tracks and near camping sites.


Debyl1 March 29, 2012 at 10:04 am

Love going on this adventure with you.The long lost past is fascinating.Keep stirring up the dust and let us all watch it settle together with your amazing photos x


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