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Other Ekweleksotika (Xotica), Brisbane - December 2015

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History (Part Three)

Since Brisbane was a penal colony, free settlers were not permitted to erect any sort of permanent camp near or inside the town. As the flow of convicts declined towards the 1840s, however, the British government decided to prepare unused land around Moreton Bay for European settlers, to separate them from the prisoners. Once they arrived, much of the timber that was felled in the clearing process was used in the construction of new homes and buildings. Rights and land ownership of the Aboriginals was not recognises at this time, therefore compensation for annexing the land was not required, nor expected. By the late 1860s most of the Aboriginal people living within the vicinity of Brisbane had died out, through gunshot wounds or disease. Detailed accounts from that era indicate that most of the remaining Aborigines by this time chose to trade with the settlers who relied on their labour (tree cutting, ferrying, water carrying) and goods (firewood, fish, shellfish).

For years Brisbane remained less developed than other Australian cities. It was often described as a regional outpost, even in spite of the discovery of gold – most of which was sent to Melbourne and Sydney – since the town had far fewer classical Victorian structures. Floods continued to plague the town throughout the 1800s as the development of drains was slow, even with a large ‘disposable’ workforce. Although it was officially recognised as a city in 1902, and played a crucial part in the defence of Australia during the Second World War, simple amenities such as a citywide sewer system was still not completed until the 1970s. Up until this time many people outside the CBD still relied on ‘thunderboxes’ (outhouses that made use of nightsoil or septic tanks).

After the 1974 flood caused by Cyclone Wanda, which was described as ‘a particularly bad one’, Brisbane City Council centred their finances and efforts on creating a flood mitigation scheme. A large number of concrete pipes were implanted across the city thereafter. Many of these replaced the former Victorian brickwork drains built by the convicts, since they were considered less reliable and expensive to repair. The new drains positioned throughout the city worked well up until January 2011, when the city unfortunately flooded once again. It was estimated that more than three-quarters of the Queensland area was affected by flooding though, so little is likely to have prepared the city for a disaster of this scale. In Brisbane city itself over 20,000 houses were inundated, alongside other key sites such as the CBD, Suncorp Stadium and a number of bridges. The flooding allowed a high number of bull sharks to enter the city; many of these were sighted swimming through a number of major streets. 

In the aftermath there was much criticism, pointing out that land management and flood defence was dangerously inadequate. While building work continued soon afterwards and the city began to expand at a tremendous pace once more, many people pointed out that key parts of the infrastructure should receive attention first, alongside the implementation of reforestation projects, to compensate for the rapid deforestation that has occurred in recent years. To date, however, these issues remain unsolved.

Our Version of Events

With another day spare to spend in Brisbane we decided to go spend some of it underground again. Grabbing a few Victoria Bitters for the journey, we travelled up met with Darkday at Kangaroo Point; a very Australian sounding place that’s a popular climbing spot. As it turned out, Dangered and Deranged were keen to meet up once more too, so we met up with the entire gang from the previous day. 

Half an hour or so later, we were all standing inside a large concrete pipe with the roaches, cracking open a few bevvies everyone had brought along for good measure. Once again it was like a sauna, so a cold one went down quite well. For some reason though, this drain was a little steamy at the beginning and the lens refused to clear, so my first set of shots probably aren’t as good as they could have been. On the upside, this drain didn’t have much water in it at this point, so walking was easy-going. Further on, as the pipe opened up into a larger tunnel the steamy situation got a little less steamy, so taking photos became easier. 

As with the other drains we’d explored, this one was teeming with wildlife. This one perhaps had the most spiders in it compared to the others - big fuckers too! A little way down the large tunnel, one was strategically positioned above one of the arches where there’s a split leading into two individual passageways: that was probably one of the largest I’ve seen yet. At first I was surprised to find so many down here, having been told that this drain was tidal, but it became apparent later on that only the very end is tidal; judging by the gunge coating the brickwork down there. 

After the drain splits, we found ourselves following a winding passage. The other tunnel runs adjacent and is linked occasionally by several smaller passages. Eventually it leads to some of the older brickwork, which made a nice change from the darker concrete. At this point things got a lot muddier and much more slippery. It was clear that the water enters this section quite regularly. Nevertheless, we’d timed it just right and the tide was at its lowest point, so we didn’t get too wet.

In spite of timings, however, and watching the weather forecast prior to going underground, we briefly experienced what happens when it suddenly rains in Australia and you happen to find yourself underground. As some of the others were climbing out, I stayed behind with Dangered to take a few more shots. At this point, and much to our surprise, it began raining – which didn’t seem like much at the time. Several moments later the pipe behind me started gushing with water, so we decided to hit legs, as we say up north, and make a hasty exit. We left just at the right time it would seem, since there was a heavy downpour just after we returned to the cars. It just goes to show that the spontaneous downpours actually do occur in Australia, often with little warning…

Explored with Ford Mayhem, Darkday, Deranged and Dangered. 

*We want to offer a quick thanks to all those who took the time to come and meet us while we were touring around Brisbane. It was great to meet you all, hear some of your stories, and experience the exploring scene on the opposite side of the world.







































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Liking that mate, last shot is a belter. Have to do some drains in London some time if you're up for it, I can't get any fuckers in London to come with me! Big ups to the Aussies that helped out, sound like a decent bunch :thumb 



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Thanks for looking everyone. The comments on the photos are really appreciated.

@The_Raw Definitely, it would be good to see more drains and things in London. We're planning a trip there in April maybe, if you're up for meeting up?

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15 hours ago, WildBoyz said:

Thanks for looking everyone. The comments on the photos are really appreciated.

@The_Raw Definitely, it would be good to see more drains and things in London. We're planning a trip there in April maybe, if you're up for meeting up?


Yeah if I'm about for sure mate, there's some stonking brickwork under London :thumb 

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On 1/23/2016 at 1:42 PM, KM Punk said:

Lovely drainage :thumb

I particularly like pics 7 and 18

Had a feeling this would be right up your street mate ;)

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