This was the first drain I explored and it's choice was mostly down to its convenience and lack of possible onlookers. There wasn't anything particularly interesting inside, but that didn't matter, it was a first and an experience to remember.
The day I first went in, it was typical sunny Australian afternoon, and the little stream trickled in consistently. This trickle can become a raging torrent in heavy rain. I was already well aware of this, and made sure there wasn't a speck in the sky, being rather paranoid about the possible dangers.
Balmy sun, check, torches, check, 102 things I would never need and never bring again, check.
I waited till the coast was clear and disappeared down the overgrown bank, which had worn a deep channel down into the earth over the years, through the park and down to the base of the drain inflow.
Once in I gathered my thoughts and sat down in the cool shade of the entrances getting various camera parts, flashes, tripods and torches out and ready for their intended purposes.
A chance for some bad self portraiture was quickly seized upon.
I then shot off a few more tests snaps near the entrance and was chuffed at how they looked. I decided to grab a few more. Still working out how the expose shots in the new lighting conditions, and with a lot of trial and error, most turned out unsalvageable.
A few yards in there were some inlet pipes from gutters above on the road that looked like chess pawns. Snap. I was a regular tourist.
Heading in a little deeper, I decided to test some lighting with a 20yr old flash and a shabby flashlight, I had brought for the purpose.
The flash was interesting, but the number of pops i could achieve with the whining capacitor loudly recharging between each flash and the added constraint of a maximum 15 sec exposure, meant it really didn't do much of a lighting job.
Bidding farewell to the afternoon streaming in the entrance, I decided to plod further into the darkness to see what else was shrouded in its cloak.
After a spell I approached the first junction, its old style step irons apparently dated the drain to at least 30 years old, so an informed source explained to me later.
Further down the drain was this great little side pipe with light from a gutter above streaming in. It looked just like a mini Death Star! Snap.
Moving deeper in, a tried some more lighting close up and then at a distance. Running in the dark in cramped quarters is hazardous to your health. That 15 second exposure limit was a killer!
Further in I found some pipes to duck past, looking further into the black and not discerning anything of intest, and feeling rather far from home, I decided I should head back and to the light. Figuring I had some shots and it wouldn't do to die damp and lonely on my first foray.
Pausing for one last shot on the way back, I eventually emerged into the glorious light of day and headed home with what I hoped were my photographic spoils!
I returned a few weeks later, determined to go further and see if I could reach the end.
It was a Sunday night and past 11pm when I chained my bike securely to the large steel park gate. I lay it down in the long grass so that it wasn't visible from the footpath, and headed for the infall.
I quickly slipped by the once seen, and very easily forgotten attractions, and headed in deeper. After an age of plodding the darkness pressing heavy now from both ends, I saw a variation ahead and went to investigate.
It was a little waterfall, about half a meter high, and explained nicely what had been the ever growing cacophony of echoing water.
After some terribly lit shots from my $5, 5 led flash light, I headed a short distance further down into the black.
The pipe seemed to be ever sloping down into the earth and even sapping the light from around me. At this point paranoia and ghouls from the netherworld won over my nerve and reason and I decided a sane man would beat a hasty retreat to the lesser darkness of midnight, and the world of the living above.
Exploring by yourself has it's own special taste, everything is amplified, the fear, the excitement, the sense of accomplishment when it's done. It's a mental challenge best approached with baby steps, but steps wide enough to press oneself anew and grow by inches each time.
An age later, with aching legs I emerged out of breath into the starry light, only to find after my climb out, my bike had been stolen.