There’s a saying that goes along the lines of ‘It’s been right under my nose the whole time” and in this particular instance, I’m referring to my feet. I’ve walked all around Brisbane, looking for something new and different to photograph, something not many people have done before me, or will after me. I’ve looked upward to buildings, crouched down low to the grass to see what’s there, and I’ve even turned the camera around toward myself a couple of times, but until recently that’s all but where my search for something new stopped. I was looking in the wrong directions. I then discovered a thing called urban exploration (urbex), and the world before me changed. I started keeping my eye out for all those places your Mum taught you to stay away from; that abandoned house, that rusty fence, the broken window…and the big drain pipe with spiders and uninviting darkness. In my spare time after work, I was researching, I was scoping my neighbourhood and I was doing reconnaissance missions of venues that were likely candidates.
I never thought I’d find myself looking underground for inspiration though, but it happened, many times before writing this blog, and will continue many times after. My friends likely look at me now with quizzical perplexed facial expressions, and silently question my sanity, wondering to themselves ‘Tony what are you doing bro, why go down there?’ The simple truth is, because I can. Life is short, to be enjoyed, and I don’t want to sit idly by watching others enjoy the things that I could do or explore. A major part of that involves me getting out there and going beyond my own expectations and finding inspiration in the weirdest of wonderful places. Turns out venturing six feet under is just one such avenue I’ve encountered that does just that.
You’ve seen glimpses of it in my other blogs (Crazy House, Butter Factory), but for this blog I’m talking about going down man holes and drain pipes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle style. Within, or rather below Brisbane is a plethora of underground drains, a system so intricate and intimate that besides the men who built them many years ago, only a handful of people have had the pleasure of witnessing. Some are old and built in brick, creatively manufactured inverted tear drop tunnels. Others perfectly circular, or rock blasted. Then there are the modern concreted circular drains too. Some drains are an amalgamation of them all, fluctuating between man made and natural, the deeper in you go. Exploring these places, has been done well before my time (the graffiti with years etched into the walls is testament to this), and will continue many years to come. It’s a whole new world down there. These places, through my Internet research, have revealed a cult like following. Throughout the entire world are ‘cave clans,’ groups of people who pride themselves on exploring the world from a different angle, underground the citi
es they live. The first person to discover a new drainage system is given the privilege of naming it. Very diplomatic and ‘NASAesque’ with asteroids. These individuals pride themselves on keeping these locations private for the next person to discover themselves. In this blog I shall honour their code, and keep their locations sacred, but will reveal their names as I have come to know them. No, no I won’t. I can’t make it that easy for people. If I found them, so can you. That’s where the fun is to be had, the self discovery!
Above ground is the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The cacophony of a chaotic busy lifestyle built on the foundation we stand on today. Below that, underground, harbouring critters, spray painted works of art, and me, spinning my steel wool, is another world, a place where I’ve had the pleasure of exploring only segments of. Ladies and gentleman, the Brisbane underground…
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