Published:: 9th January 2016

Wollongong’s thrilling secret…

Wollongong looks like a relaxed beach city. But under its sparkling exterior, it is challenging, thrilling and exciting. Well, it can be…

Early this year, we followed a troupe of Parkour practitioners as they flipped and flew through the Gong, showing what our peaceful city really offers: plenty of thrills and excitement!

Parkour is challenging for the same reason that it is thrilling for those who practice it (who are sometimes known as traceurs).

Parkour, practiced mostly in groups, is a discipline involving movement around, across, through, over and under features in mostly urban environments.

Based largely on military obstacle training principles, parkour originated in France but became popular in the 1990s through films, documentaries and advertisements.

Casino Royale (2006), Die Hard 4 (2007), Sherlock Holmes (2011), and The Bourne Legacy (2012) feature impressive Parkour scenes. Film-maker Luc Besson is famed for first featuring parkour scenes in his films, notably District 13 in 2004.

For serious traceurs, mental discipline is paramount to practicing parkour. According to the founder of the Parkour movement, Williams Belle, “it is about overcoming and adapting to mental and emotional obstacles as well as physical barriers.”

The original French parkour group, the Yamakasi, sometimes trained without food or water or slept on the floor without a blanket as a way of improving their mental strength. They took training seriously, adhering to a strict code emphasising teamwork, humility and self-confidence. Of course, not everyone takes parkour to those extremes…

For locals, there are plenty of locations to practice Parkour, including Wollongong Headlands, near the Lighthouse, the break wall, Port Kembla Beach, Stuart Park, Helensburgh Skatepark… but if you’re an amateur, get advice before tackling any high-rise buildings.

If you want to practice your flips, jumps and handstands before taking on the wild world of Wollongong, Hangtime Flight School classes are great preparation to take the leap into parkour. And stay tuned for our ‘Parkour nights’ coming soon.