Til’s Tidbit (May 2014)

Grabbing your slightly dubious friend by the wrist, you say; “Trust me. It’s just down here past that dumpster.” It sounds like the start of a grizzly horror film but in actual fact, it’s something heard on the streets of Melbourne all the time.

On an average night, you could be navigating the alleys of China Town to the infamous bar that serves cocktails in syringes, checking out Rone’s latest street art wonder, or preparing to scale several flights of stairs to the local rooftop bar. Melbourne is a city bursting with hidden gems, and the challenge of finding them makes the reward that much greater.

Riding the rails out to Hawthorn one evening I overheard a conversation between youths. Two boys were explaining to a friend that their Friday night plans consisted of navigating the underbelly of Melbourne -quite literally- by means of tunnels rather than boutique bars.

Further research into the topic suggests that exploration of the tunnels under Melbourne is by no means a new feat, with the questionably legal group, the ‘Cave Clan’ staking their claim on the tunnel network from the early 80s. The Cave Clan regard themselves as a discovery club of sorts, dedicated to exploring and uncovering the urban caves, chambers, mines, natural tunnels, unnatural tunnels and storm drains throughout Melbourne.

The clan’s playground territory includes the vast network of tunnels and drains which were chiefly designed to carry out the canalization of rainwater, and is completely separate from the sewer network. Many of these stormwater drains in inner Melbourne follow the paths of former creeks. Entrances to a drain usually start at a waterway such as a canal, creek, river, lake or beach. Although information regarding the Cave Clan and their specific discoveries is scarce, the group’s website makes a clear point of stating the illegality of entering drains and the danger of exploring tunnels in or post rainy conditions.

The group can be contacted for more information via their website (http://caveclan.org) or PO box.