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“Exploring” in Canberra – any good tunnels / caves or other fun exploring areas?

By Peter Holland 4 September 2008 134

We have touched on Urbexing, Spelunking and other forms of Exploring in prior posts, what are some areas that are considered fun to check out and won’t result in us being shot / arrested / drowned?

anyone?

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“Exploring” in Canberra – any good tunnels / caves or other fun exploring areas?
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tpolitch 2:24 am 16 Apr 11

ive been to a couple of these places in the last couple of weeks. has anyone found something else in the past few of years?

thom 6:34 pm 30 Nov 10

georgesgenitals said :

Today and tomorrow would be great days for exploring tunnels. Get into it!

Or not as a girl found out in Griffith today. Should be in CT tomorrow. I hope shes ok.

thom 8:11 pm 29 Nov 10

Panic! showed me around. 🙂 if one person sees the tag it’s done it’s job. I’ll be doing a lot more drains in the next few months for a project I’m doing. Just waiting on a couple pieces of equipment to arrive. You’re more then welcome to tag along. There’s a few locations out here that you don’t have on your google map thingy. Nice work on that btw.

Have you checked out Kenmore? in Goulburn. It got sold a few months back for several million so you will wanna be quick (and careful)

georgesgenitals 7:37 pm 29 Nov 10

Today and tomorrow would be great days for exploring tunnels. Get into it!

p1 5:31 pm 29 Nov 10

thom said :

I’m Mongo…

Oh, and hi Mongo. I’ve seen your tag in almost every damn drain in the city.

p1 5:30 pm 29 Nov 10

toriness said :

Danman said :

Oh there is also another place with a room that is bluewashed and some locals have stencilled a full aquarium on the walls – including seaweed.

– could we have photos please???

The Aquarium.

Danman said :

…with rooms dedicated to the memories of Kurt Cobain and grunge in general – walls plastered with tributes and poetry…

I wonder if the Nirvana room is still there.

toriness said :

i am too terrified of clowns in drains (ie deep psychological trauma from stephen king’s IT) to go looking for these…

Great, now I am gonna think of clowns with pointy teeth next time I’m in a drain.

toriness 11:18 am 28 Nov 10

Danman said :

We used to smoke doobies in that drain pipe – apart from supplied entertainment (Doobs and po-has to scare the kids at a park close to the grille room) it was pretty boring.

I no longer need doobies or po-has so I decided to explore something cool – with rooms dedicated to the memories of Kurt Cobain and grunge in general – walls plastered with tributes and poetry – plus another room that is covered with drug/yoda style rantings – and another room that has the yellow brick road painted on it – get underground in belconnen 🙂

Of course it would be irresponsible of me to tell you where to find it – because when you did, inevitibly you would go there after drinking whilst raining, get washed down and killed and it would all fall back on me and RA.

Oh there is also another place with a room that is bluewashed and some locals have stencilled a full aquarium on the walls – including seaweed.

i am too terrified of clowns in drains (ie deep psychological trauma from stephen king’s IT) to go looking for these but they sound awesome – could we have photos please???

thom 11:15 pm 27 Nov 10

I’m Mongo. There are heaps of fun and interesting places out here to explore in Canberra of-course not as much as cities like Sydney or Melb. Just try and be careful and responsible and take extra torches and a buddy!

Good to see you are still around Panic!

For anyone interested there’s a short two part doco on the Cave Clan on: vive cool city. com. au

ErkzO 10:14 am 15 Nov 09

PBO said :

Ahh, I see. I am used to the convention of using a smiley face like so 😉 when using humor.
Yeah, it would be cool to get together and chat about UE stuff. I have to admit that storm water drains in Canberra are mostly boring. The vast majority of them are 6 foot round pipes. There are a few ones such as Secret Squirrels, one down at Callwell and the Bat-Cave that are interesting

Yes, secret squirrels is quite interesting. What makes the Calwell and Bat-Cave so interesting? (Calwell drain has a few grille rooms i noticed from google maps)

UrbanAdventure.org 5:42 pm 16 Oct 09

Yeah P1. That’s what I read in the historical docos. But I found two in the bush off of I think it is Fairbun Ave (the road that runs south of the airport) and they are disused, by sheep or humans.

Oh, and yes, I have seen the aquarium and dome in Froggy drain. I quite like the sharks, penguins, diver and so on. That must have taken some work.

Ceej1973 3:31 pm 16 Oct 09

Try this:

Its out at the Cotter, on the ridge above Paddy’s River. There is a natural cave (caged up last time I was there), and also a mine tunnel up a small creek, which is just up hill from some copper tailings. I think you will see from the link (hope it works) that the tailings are the bluish green colouring in the sat map image. If you manage to find the tunnel, it cuts straight across the hill for 200m, vertically in a westerly direction. The entrance is a mans width hole that you will have to squeze thru. be careful negotiating the tunnel as there are a few verticle drops, some only covered up with wooden planks. Used to explore these with my Geology student budies. Also, as per previous thread, Giralang tunnels, and Kaleen tunnels (end of palying fields/tennis court road) are pretty rad too. Lots of off shutes and large cavins.

Enjoy.

p1 2:47 pm 16 Oct 09

I have to admit that storm water drains in Canberra are mostly boring. The vast majority of them are 6 foot round pipes.

This tends to be true, but often the journey is more interesting then the destination.

…and the two small ones south of the airport…

These were bomb dumps from WW2, single room structures with blast door, and earth berms around them. Four of the five are used by sheep, and one appears to be in use by the AFP for storage (based on the fences, signs and cameras.

UrbanAdventure.org 12:55 pm 16 Oct 09

PBO said :

##### INTERMISSION #######

Because it was funny at the time. Dont take this all too seriously mate. No one is better than anyone else on this site, so just roll with it, smile and have a bit of fun and share some knowledge and maybe have a bite at someone. What makes this site fun is that we are all hypocrites at some time or another.

I for one am interested in where you have been in Canberra and what you have seen.

Ahh, I see. I am used to the convention of using a smiley face like so 😉 when using humor.
Yeah, it would be cool to get together and chat about UE stuff. I have to admit that storm water drains in Canberra are mostly boring. The vast majority of them are 6 foot round pipes. There are a few ones such as Secret Squirrels, one down at Callwell and the Bat-Cave that are interesting, but not really interesting enough to go into more than a few times unless you were asked to show a new explorer around.

I find it kind of sad that some of them are former creeks. I wonder how the now open but concrete creek in Woden would look as a natrual creek with ponds and waterfalls as part as a centerpeice of town. Or how the drain through Weston would look as an open creek. I also wonder how much wild life was wiped out as result of putting those creeks underground. 🙁

Canberrra does not have much in the way of abandoned buildings either. It used to have the very nice Government Printing Works which was huge. I made friends with one of the security guards there and we used to walk around the inside of it a fair bit. I got to document it’s last days. I even got to drive my car through it during the process of it being demolished. I was hired to do some week end work demolishing it as well because I have a good working knowledge of asbestos removal and can drive a bob cat. That place (like most buildings built before 1980) had a fair bit of asbestos in it.

It was sad to see that go as well. It would have been beutiful to have seen it converted into a shopping mall, indoor community centre, sports ceentre or something similar. It was huge. It was also verty airy and had great use of natrual light. It would have made a superb community centre, being down there so close to the lake. Sort of like the old Bus Depot markets only about 4 times the size.

There was also an old brick factory up at Mitchell. Asbestos ridden too. Now it is gone and they’re building factories over it.

Which reminds me of the old pipe works in Queanbeyan. It was a huge place. It covered about 2 suburban blocks. Now there’s a housing estate on it. Only problem is, I am pretty sure that there was no soil remediation work done on that site. I never saw any of the topsoil removed from the site at all. I did see top soil shipped in and spread over thee dirt, silicates and other crap left over from the pipe works. I’d never buy there myself because of fears of possible carcinogens in the dirt. 🙁 Not good.

Then there is the old Canberfrra Brick works and their associated quarries. You don’t need to tresspass to explore them. Most week days people are there and you can wander on in and ask permission to walk around and take photos. If you look carefully you can find remains of the old miniture railways that ran there. I did write “railways” too. There were three! The old quarry railways which I think ran on an 18 inch gauge. The miniture entertainment railway that ran around a small (now mostly dry) lake in the quarries on the north side of the site, and a 2 ft 6 or 3ft gauge railway that ran along Adelaide Ave as far as the old power house with a branch into Civic. The old brickworks provided all of the bricks to build Old Parliament House and many historical builddings in Civic.

There were a bunch of old buildings that were once part of ANU. They werre kind of taken over by art students and had some really nice art work in them. But being old fibro blocks they were eventually demolished and I think they made way for a car park. 🙁 I have some nice video of them on my web site. I think Danman and I explored them together once when we were on better terms. But that was years ago so it may have been someone else.

Oh, and the now also gone massive old Canberra Hostel. That was HUGE. a massive 3 story, 6 sided hexegon building in Barton that would have easily had 600 rooms. When they went to demolish it there were still TVs in some of the rooms, and lots of furniture. It was such a waste to see that all go when it could have been donated to the Salvos and helped people out.

There was an asbestos ladened tower block in Woden which I think is still there. Even I would not go into that. When seeking permission the police who used it for training told me that even they were considering not going in there any more, the exposed asbestos was that bad. Since then I think it has been sealed off inside anyway. Though people might consider it a choice site, it would be a seriously bad idea to enter it even with permission.

I’ve only found two, no three bunker sites in Canberra. The old DFAT one, some disused ones south of the airport along the road that goes from the airport to out past the aircrash site and a third bunker. The old DFAT communications one was featured on an ABC news web report, so I don’t mind mentioning it here and the two small ones south of the airport are listed in historical documents found on the web. So I don’t mind mentioning them here. The ones south of the airport are just two small buildings that were once covered in dirt. They are not all that impressive. They would be great if you were a kid and wanted a hide out, but yeah, as an adult I find them somewhat boring. The third bunker site may still be in use.

The tunnels from Old Parliament House to the old DFAT building were interesting though. It took a lot of persistant asking to be given permission to entter those, and that was with an escourt. You pretty much can not get into them without being seen, so please don’t try. The pipe is a big round 9 footer, (but gets smaller past the old DFAT building) very similar to a large storm water drain. Only this was made with formed concrete, not pipe sections. There is a centre walkway, racks on either side to contain pipes, the Hansard pneumatic transporter and cables. It was lit by fluro tubes. The tunnel is plugged below the foyer at the old DFAT building as the section under the lake is flooded. There is a pump room not far from te southern shore of the lake.

PBO, I’ve never heard of the Black Mountain Downpipe or the Mout Ainslie Bunker. I’d be most interested in taking a look at them provided it was legal to do so. As clearly stated on my web site, I do not promote illegal UE. If they are on public land, and there are no fences or keep out signs then I’m willing to take a look. But if there are fences, keep out signs or it is obvious that tresspass is required, then I won’t be visiting them. Still, I’m happy to talk about them, as perhaps the owner could be persuaded to give premission to see them.

I’ve seen quite a few intgeresting places in Canbera and overseas simply by asking. For example, in the USA the good old Aussie accent, and a show of genuine interest and knowledge got me into everything from a former main railway station through to a fomer police dog training centre to a tour of the TARP project in Chicago (you could drive a double decker bus through the TARP tunnels). Here in Oz I was given a guided tour of some of the tunnels under New Parliament House (as mentioned here, the Cathedral underground space – which was not so exciting) the Old Parlliament House tunnels, three underground power stations, and the high level diversion tunnels in Melbourne (poo tunnels). I’ve also been shown through several college tunnels systems, both here and overseas.

UE, does not have to involve tresspass. Some people say it is not real UE if you ask permission. But I say I like my job and I am not prepared to risk it by breaking the law. Having said that, it should be pointed out that it is not illegal to enter a storm water drain in the ACT unless there is a sign specificly forbidding you to do so, or unless you are required to “break or enter (enter can be as simple as pushing open a closed but not locked gate)” to enter it, or if you are carrying tools to be used for the purpose of break and entering (a torch can be considered such a tool).

As I’ve been saying all along, it would be good if the UErs in Canberra got together to do some UE. Forget the polatics, just get out and have some fun.

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