Monday, May 10, 2004

Draining in Brisbane

Brisbane is in a subtropical area, and the main city is built on the banks of the Brisbane River. These two factors combine to require the city engineers to construct large stormwater drains. These drains make excellent caving (speleology) or draining expeditions.
The secret places of a city are often the most interesting.

Creek St runs down through the city from Spring Hill to the River. Its name comes from the creek that it now covers. Thus there is a tunnel underneath the street that permits the water flowing from the spring to the river. This tunnel is a double red brick oval tunnel, with the water actually wearing away the first layer of bricks in the bottom. Entrance can be obtained at low tide (the river is tidal for several kilometres) from below the Rowers nightclub building. You will get wet getting into the tunnel. About waist deep at low tide for the first 20 metres or so. After that the water is no more than a trickle in the bottom. This tunnel has lots of overhead obstructions that HURT your head when you hit them. Pipes and concrete overcasts mostly. There are also plenty of manholes, but be careful with these as they are in the middle of a busy street! After several hundred metres it opens up into a room where you have 3 tunnels to choose from. One is reached by climbing up a ladder and heads off to the Myer Centre. You can get into the underground carpark / bus area from here. The second continues up creek street and then angles off down Adelaide St. We pushed up a manhole cover and emerged in front of the fountain on the footpath out the front of King George Square - much to the delight of onlookers (at about 3am they are all mostly drunk anyway so who cares). We haven't been up the third tunnel yet - it may head on up the hill.

Another tunnel well worth exploring is to be found down by the kangaroo point cliffs park. From the river (via boat) this is an obvious entrance but from land is a bit harder to find. It is just east of the captain cook bridge. Once again entrance needs to be obtained at low or medium tide and involves getting wet the first 20-30 metres. This is a natural rock tunnel carved under the cliffs for some 100 metres or so. Then it suddenly turns into a gigantic concrete round tunnel. You could drive a small truck up this tunnel - it is huge! At one point we climbed a very high manhole ladder up and up and up til we pushed out the manhole and found we were in a grassy piece in the middle of the Vulture St/ F3 Freeway interchange. Back down we continued up the tunnel. Exploring a side tunnel we found a large amount of money and other stuff that had fallen down drains by simply digging in the muck at the bottom of the tunnel. This side tunnel was eventually blocked by a bridge or building piling that had been driven right through the tunnel, leaving only a small gap for water to flow through!
We continued up the main tunnel for more than a kilometre eventually calling it quits for walking and climbing out a manhole in a street in Annerley. Next time we take pushbikes or skateboards I think!

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