Base jumper Chris McDougall leaps from the top of the 421-metre Kuala Lumpur Tower in 2012. Picture: AFP / MOHD RASFAN
DAREDEVIL BASE jumpers are leaping from Perth City’s tallest buildings for the ultimate adrenalin rush.
And they’re taking the heart-stopping plunge from skyscraper rooftops and construction cranes under the cover of darkness to avoid police and security guards.
BASE stands for the four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: Building Antenna (an uninhabited tower such as an aerial mast), Span (a bridge or arch), Earth (a cliff or other natural formation).
There are fewer than 10 hardcore members regularly BASE jumping in WA. By day, they’re mining workers, riggers, tradies or skydive instructors.
But after dark, when conditions are perfect, the moon is out and the wind disappears, they scale fences, climb cranes and penetrate building security to leap from as low as 50m for an adrenalin-charged moment of weightlessness.
The WA jumpers don’t make a cent out of it and don’t do it for the glory, with no videos or photos posted on YouTube or Facebook.
But they have agreed to speak about their clandestine sport to urge authorities to legalise it in designated areas.
They also say Perth should shed its Dullsville tag and host an event similar to a BASE- jumping showcase held in front of big crowds in the Malaysian capital every year.
Considered one of the world’s most dangerous sports, there is little margin for error and no back-up parachute. In 2011, WA’s Lucas Oliver, 27, died when a jump went wrong at a 110m communications tower at Regans Ford, 140km north of Perth.
Australian BASE Association president Gary Cunningham, who is also the director of the KL Tower BASE Jump event in Malaysia, said the sport remained illegal because it was “easier for policy makers to just label all BASE jumpers as criminals rather than do some real work and put something in place to help us do it more safely”.
The association’s WA representative, 30-year-old skydiving instructor Scott Brown a veteran of more than 500 BASE jumps said the state’s secretive community numbered as few as eight, mostly men aged 25-35.
He would not say how often they jumped or from where because it was illegal in WA without the landowner’s permission, but Mr Brown said locations had included the rooftops of the “big three” buildings in the city Central Park, the BankWest tower and BHP headquarters, Brookfield Place. Jumpers had also leapt from Bluff Knoll near Albany and into gorges in Karijini National Park.
Mr Brown acknowledged the sport was dangerous, but said participants were “not just recklessly finding a building and jumping off it”.
“We’re not filming it and putting it on YouTube for our 15 minutes of fame. It takes a lot of time to get the required skills, assessing the conditions a lot of thought goes into it,” he said.
WA Police said anybody caught faced charges, including trespassing and public endangerment.