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THOSE who know him best, know him as Cratey.
The embodiment of their student-era shenanigans, and a medium through which to convey a message.
Crate Man has been known to make a statement during the 10-or-so years since he first appeared on the streets of Bendigo.
Sometimes, the “wheyward” one has been political. On other occasions, he’s just been a bit of fun.
The most recent appearance belonged to the latter category, his makers said.
“It’s just a bit of larrikinism,” one said.
It was 10.40pm, and only seven degrees outside, when we met.
The pre-construction spot was well selected. Public, yet secluded enough not to be bothered by authorities or curious onlookers.
The available light was enough to make out the forms of two men, who asked that their identities remain anonymous.
About 22 green and grey milk crates lay at their feet – roughly half the number required to make a full-sized Crate Man.
With Cratey constructors in short supply, they had scaled back their plans.
“It’s a bit of good, clean fun,” one of the makers said.
The thrill of trying to assemble a man made of milk crates in a public place, without getting busted, was a big part of what was keeping the tradition alive.
While there were pockets at the location that were cloaked in darkness, the spot in which the makers were planning to deposit their crate mate was highly visible.
“It lasts until lunch time the next day, I’m happy,” one of the makers said.
Despite the effort that goes into his appearances, Cratey was never supposed to be taken seriously.
One of the makers said he was surprised when he first realised the local media was interested in what the other maker flippantly referred to as “renegade installation art.”
“It’s a man made of plastic,” the more chatty of the two said.
Every detail, from the ratio of green-to-grey crates to the best place to source cable ties, had been considered.
“It doesn’t hurt anyone,” one of the makers said.
Though it might not seem it, from his deceptively simple physique, the makers put a lot of thought into whether or not Crate Man posed a safety risk.
Factors ranged from the crate one’s structural integrity, to the ease of his deconstruction.
“We make it so it won’t fall apart onto someone,” one of the makers said.
A full-sized crate man consists of about 250 cable ties – up to four on each load-bearing corner.
The makers use cable ties because the tools required to undo them and safely return the crates to the businesses from which they’ve been borrowed are easily accessible.
“We don’t cut the cable ties so people don’t reach in and get a cut,” one of the makers said.
Experience has taught him how sharp the ends can be.
“How do people find anything out? It’s always the hard way,” he said.
Crate Man through the ages
2014: The crate men milk it
2014: Crate Man moves on again