Hidden infrastructure fascinates me, it's the unseen cogs that drives the world around us, but to most people bobbing along through life, it goes completely unnoticed, and even when noticed, ignored.
Finding images like this from our southern neighbours got me thinking, where does Brisbane hide its underground arteries?
So after some time searching The Oracle, Google provided me with some maps of where Brisbane's main 110kV feeder lines ran. Another map of smaller 11kV cabling which kindly provided a key, showed me red dashed lines for underground cabling. It didn't seem too much of a leap to assume that was going to be the same for the red dashed lines on the keyless 110kV map, especially considering the dirth of giant transmission lines stalking across the city scape!
Armed with my new found intelligence, I decided to do a bit of a wonder around the city and look for things that evening, before I was supposed to meet 2 other people to do some photography in a great stormwater system called Aquacave.
The other thing of interst I was wanting to peak at was a large sewer system which had been constructed in the last 10 years.
It seemed like a fascinating tunnel at over 4.5km long and of 3 meters across, all coated in shiny white UPVC, to stop the nasty gasses corroding its concrete bones. It flows right under the heart of the city and I wish I had been around to see some of the construction that took place.
I figured while I was about looking for signs of underground cable tunnels I could swing past one of the spots where the construction took place and see what was there now.
Turns out, a large ventilation shaft and a manhole tagged Class D Sealed. Standing on the manhole and rocking it to and fro with my feet, it certainly didn't seem sealed to me!
The 2m wide shaft goes down to about 7m in this photo (by Nuggs over on UEGA, very cool I might add!). At that point the shaft is flooded in his pic. The horizontal shaft should be 15m below ground level at this location. Nuggs also mentioned that this was taken after a lot of rain, so it may be possible to see the horizontal shaft another time when there hasn't been rain for a while.
I decided not to take a peak on the day. It was light out out for one and the mismatched couples throwing awkward kicks and punches at their partners nearby in the park, would certainly not apprciate the odours that may be unleashed.
Curiosity mildly sated and requisite snaps for my maps achieved, I wandered off to one of the roads where the 110kV lines lay hidden beneath.
I follow these around for a while, checking my printed map like a tourist and shining my torch down holes in various shaped covers, like a right loon.
There was the odd abandoned factory on the route, but nothing particularly interesting.
Eventually my unsuccessful ambling led me closer to the below transmission line, presumably a point of interest in this hunt.
I decided to work my way to it, and along the way check another area that needed some snaps and info. I had yet to find a nice ladder entry to Dsanktuary and being the lazy sort, would rather not be boosting in and out of concrete enclosures!
This was the first time I had seen the Dsanktuary outfalls as the had been construction taking place in the area for some time and earlier attempts had been cut short of this destination.
They looked pretty easy to wander in from the outfall at low tide, but I would hazard a guess rather mucky.
While wondering around the roads nearby, I found what looked to be a nice entry down a gutter grate, but alas, it was just a red herring. I gave up on my reconnaissance efforts, having found naught in the underground cable tunnel vein, and decided to wind my way back to the city.
Having met up with NIOU and CT we went for a walk around the city, and they showed me a neat spot where you could look down into the road and see 100th lurking below. Heavens knows how they found it being such a small hole in such a big city. After that we went to check where the outfall had been and to see an abandoned building which NIOU climbed up the fire escape to have a nosey round. Time was getting in so we heading back to NIOU's car and off to Aquacave.
Upon route to our entry point we got word from some others that were coming, that the planned entry was a no go, as the streets were blocked for the moment by other activities.
We headed to the alternate and waited around for a while for the others to show. NIOU and CT suggested we pop a cover and get at it, but I thought we should wait a tad longer.
A very very long time later everyone had finally arrived. It was a rather massive group of nearly 20 people all up. Once we were all in, and after following in convoy for a while, we three decided to head upstream instead, as we had not explored that direction yet. I let the guy in front of me know our plans and headed off in the other direction.
It turned out to be a rather long and progressively hunched walk upstream. NIOU checked a manhole at one point to get our bearings and we continued... I listened for a while near a manhole further upsteram we wanted to check, but heard only the thrump thrump of passing cars, so we headed on.
Eventually we started passing the odd human excretion, which came from heavens knows where! and decided that was a good a time as any to get our exit strategy going.
We found one of the old square manholes and I climbed up to have a listen and a look. We had already been told this square was on the footpath, and the kind signage from within pointed to this fact also.
Heaving away at it, I decided I must be some kind of light weight! not to be able to push this thing out. It was moving, so not stuck, just really really heavy! After a huge effort, it moved up enough and there was a loud crashing sound as I pushed it out the rest of the way, and up onto the footpath.
Poking my head out, I noticed some thoughtful soul had placed there garbage bin on top of the manhole, which was now sprawled on the footpath. Mystery solved, only 80% lightweight.
Bags were passed up, and I ducked under the stretegicly lain wheelie bin, as the odd car passed with its headlights blazing. The others emerged and we pushed the cover to, returned the wheelie bin to right, and promptly strode down the street.
We were all rather buzzing from the fun of it, and the walk back which was about 1 and a bit kms didn't see nearly as far in upright posture.
Once we got back to the entry point we saw the others hanging around having a chat with each other. We stopped and had a bit of a chat with them, and then decided to head off.
It was a fun trip besides the lack of photos! But I must say, as nice as it is to meet other people with a similar interest, I think that there is something to be said for exploring in slightly smaller crowds. It adds something to the air of adventure, which is lost in larger gatherings.