When you think about abandoned places in NSW, you could be forgiven for thinking that there's no places left to explore in Sydney. The bustling New South Wales capital has an estimated population of more than 5 million people and for prospective city dwellers, housing is only getting more difficult to find. Even so, it shouldn't come as a shock to hear that there are plenty of abandoned places in Sydney. The modern city was established in 1788 and we've been squeezing more buildings and businesses in for just over 230 years - it stands to reason that some will be left empty by now!
There are people the world over who harbour a fascination for abandoned places. Some people are archeologists, locating the most ancient of sites and uncovering what their primary use was hundreds of years ago. Others are talented photographers, drawn to the emptiness and melancholy of these once lively spaces. But those who love an abandoned house most of all are an especially private group of people called 'urbexers.'
Urbexers are those who take part in the urban exploration, or 'urbex', of an abandoned building or train tunnels. The line between what is considered criminal and what is considered urbex has been a blurred one, but experienced urbexers will tell you that as long as you don't graffiti an abandoned house or break anything in order to gain entry, you'll usually be able to explore unhindered and without fear of legal ramifications. This doesn't change the fact that the exhilaration of ignoring a 'Keep Out' sign is what makes this activity so addictive.
Some of the best urban exploration spots are kept secret by local urbexers, who will post pictures on social media with no clue as to the location and will only reveal this information privately to other members of their community. These are 9 abandoned spots we were able to pin down by exploring #urbexsydney on Instagram.
1. The Terminus Hotel, Pyrmont
Location: 61 Harris Street, Pyrmont
Abandonment: This pub originally opened in 1865 as The Coopers Arms. In 1911, it was purchased by the Tooth & Co brewery and operated as The Terminus Hotel until it was privately sold in 1984. Despite it's heritage listing, it was boarded up and abandoned shortly after this private sale and remained empty for over 30 years as ivy slowly grew all over the building.
Still standing?: It is, but it's no longer in this state. The Terminus Hotel was purchased by new owners in 2016, and after significant renovations you can now enjoy a drink there! Visit www.terminuspyrmont.com
2. The Rozelle Tram Depot, Glebe
Location: 1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge
Abandonment: The Rozelle Tram Depot opened in 1904, operating trams for western Sydney routes before we developed inner city train stations. The depot ceased operations in 1958. Six historic Sydney trams and a bus were left behind when the site was abandoned, and over the years graffiti artists claimed the depot for their own.
Still standing?: It is, but it was renovated and reopened in 2016 as The Tramsheds. Visit www.tramshedssydney.com.au
3. The Abandoned Dunlop Factory, Alexandria
Location: 9-15 Bowden Street, Alexandria
Abandonment: Production at the Dunlop-Slazenger factory ground to a halt in 1998, and soon the building was boarded up. Many developers tried and failed to revive the property. For 20 years graffiti artists and urbex enthusiasts are the only people who frequented this site.
Still standing?: In 2016 Marshall Investments won approval to redevelop the site into a retail complex. Managing director David Marshall said the “final stages of the transformation” were under way but some urbex's have written about the site being demolished in late 2018.
4. The Abandoned Marrickville Hospital, Marrickville
Location: Lilydale Street, Marrickville.
Abandonment: The hospital first opened in 1899 as the Marrickville Cottage Hospital, and in 1922 it was renamed the Marrickville District Hospital. It closed in 1990 and was left to fall into a state of dereliction. Abandoned hospitals are popular amongst urban explorers due to the added 'fear factor'.
Still standing?: In 2017 developer Mirvac and the local council agreed that the abandoned site would become the location for 220 new apartments, as well as a community hub, a library, a public park and playground.
5. Parramatta Gaol, Parramatta
Location: 15/16 New Street, North Parramatta
Abandonment: Established in 1798, this all-male prison housed all kinds of offenders until the last of its occupants were transferred out in 2011. It remains largely untouched since the day the last warden locked the door - items like prisoner's clothing, books, letters and drawings still covering the cell floors and walls.
Still standing?: Yes, although it isn't really an urbex type site any longer. But you can do Parramatta Gaol ghost tours! Book for 'the fright of your life' here.
6. Balmain Leagues Club, Rozelle
Location: 138 Victoria Road, Rozelle
Abandonment: The Balmain Leagues Club in Rozelle was originally built in 1957, but the cash-strapped owners were forced to shut up shop in 2010. Since then, the site has become an urban exploration staple.
Still standing?: There have been numerous plans to revamp the club, but legal and financial reasons have stopped these plans from going ahead so far. Urbexers were still exploring the site in mid January this year.
7. St. John's Orphanage, Golburn
Location: About 2.5 hours from Sydney on 52-56 Mundy Street, Goulburn
Abandonment: The orphanage opened in late 1913 and was run by The Sisters of Mercy until 1978, with over 2500 orphaned or abandoned boys calling the institution home. The orphanage has been tarred with tales of horrific abuse and neglect, and what remains of the building is said to be haunted by the unhappy souls of children from the building's past.
Still standing?: From 1978 to 1994, the organisation Youth With A Mission used the building as a base until they vacated the site. It was empty and untouched until a fire destroyed much of the interior in November 2016. Now, only a shell of the structure remains.
8. The Morisset Asylum for the Criminally Insane, Morisset
Location: About 2 hours from Sydney on Morisset Road, in Morisset, Lake Macquarie.
Abandonment: A magnet for those obsessed with American Horror Story and former mental asylums, Morisset Hospital (or The Morisset Asylum for the Criminally Insane) housed its first patients from 1909. In 1991, Ward 21 which was known at 'The Crim' closed. A new psychiatric hospital was built elsewhere and this site was left empty.
Still standing?: You can still explore the ruins of Ward 21 today.
9. The Mittagong Abandoned Brewery, Mittagong
Location: About 2 hours drive from Sydney, this site is also known as The Mittagong Maltings and can be found northeast of the current Mittagong Railway Station.
Abandonment: This site originally consisted of three malthouses, and construction took place between 1898 and 1916. The business was finally abandoned in 1980, after a series of fires and economical hardship meant it was no longer viable.
Still there?: Yes! Photographers and urban explorers are still roaming through this location.
If you're interested in more of Australia's eerie sites, check out photographer Brett Patman's project, The Lost Collective. He has explored and documented an extensive number of Australia's most famous abandoned places so that you don't have to!