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outdoor pursuits // fort stony batter

outdoor pursuits // fort stony batter

These summer days, spent outdoors, blessed by sunlight and embracing outdoor pursuits.

Weekends with chores swiftly accomplished, then adventures close to home. This time, a visit to stony batter reserve and the tunnels at fort stony batter. Our first visit to the tunnels in decades.

We pay the entrance fee, grab the flashlights we’ve been handed, and follow our guide through double doors painted vibrantly red—a stark contrast with the grey concrete that anchors the tunnels into the hills. He is comedic, entertaining, clearly loves his job.

These subterranean passages, chambers and stairwells were all tunnelled by hand during the second world war and have been lovingly restored to exceptional condition. We follow him willingly, up and down dimly lit passages in this echo-y, concrete underworld. He scampers ahead, turning lights off and on as we explore each new section he reveals.

We descend the grand staircase to lights cycling through the colours of the rainbow, 42 metres below the forest. The tunnels bleak history and reason for existence is woven into the narrative, but there’s new life here too. Rooms used for art exhibitions, soundscapes, intimate gatherings, meditation, concerts music video filmings — like this one from Amanda Palmer with Julia Deans.

Current exhibitions include images and soundscapes created by Roto and Veda Austin’s “Intelligence of Water”.

We exit from the dark, eyes blinking, adjusting to the light, in a lush green forest. Our guide leaves us to find our way back to the carpark, as he retreats back into the darkness humming the theme tune to Jurassic Park.

✪ Don’t go into the tunnels if you don’t like descending dimly-lit stairs, are afraid of the dark, have an aversion to dramatic pauses and the theatre-esque performative narration of an enthusiastic tunnel lover.