This drain was the main reason I brought my rubber boots and draining gear with me all the way to Victoria. I'd seen Kowalski's photos, and wanted to check it out for myself.
I spent the morning walking, scouting the downstream end of Bowker Creek. Armed with a city map and some preliminary research, I was easily able to locate the first drain on the downstream end of the creek. Unfortunately, the morning had dawned slightly frosty, and it took me awhile to warm up to the idea of going for a walk in cold, black water underground.
I wound up following Bowker Creek upstream. Walking along the surface, I was able to trace the path of the creek as it was channeled through various canals and ditches, occasionally disappearing into short culverts. The culverts were tempting enough to explore, and I would have if it had been warmer outside. But I stayed aboveground with the cold breezes, and easily traced the path of the culverts on the surface. None of these were longer than 200m, and looked to be just boring concrete duct, so I didn't think I was missing much.
I finally came to an point in a small treed area where the creek disappeared underground into an RCB, and I couldn't tell where it emerged again. Reasoning that I had finally come upon a drain worth getting into, I put on my boots, got out a flashlight, and went in.
The box sections were nice and wide, and just tall enough to stand in. Mostly featureless at first, the pipe took a couple turns, got a meter taller, then went on for another hundred meters before coming to a very interesting area. Graffiti at each end's entrance identified this place as the Hall of Wonders, and bunch of other simple graffiti marked the walls inside. The Hall was a stretch of drain, about 25m long, that had a tall, arched ceiling; and two-part walls that were smooth near the bottom and rough at the top. The graffiti scrawled everywhere was amazing in and of itself- none of it demonstrated talent, but that there was so much of it. A couple cool stencils, some musings, a lot of name tags, and lots of faded chalk. Some if it was fairly recent, dating to summer of 2004. After shooting a bunch of photos, I moved on.
The next section of the drain seemed almost as cool as the Hall. The pipe ran straight for a couple hundred meters, with bright spots from manhole shafts spaced along its length. Had it been a brighter day, the effect would have been similar to that of a dark road lit by evenly spaced street lights. And the manholes themselves were quite fascinating; with old leaves and debris dryly clinging to aging step-iron ladders, starkly lit by the light filtering down from above.
Some underground utilities starting making an appearance somewhere along this pipe. Gas lines, identified by hanging Danger tags, frequently intersected the drain, running near head height across the ceiling. Other unmarked lines, presumably power or signal transmission lines of some sort, also crossed into the pipe as well.
At the end of this hall, I came to a junction where the main pipe curved off to the right, and a smaller RCP joined the line dead ahead of me. I followed the RCP in for about 50m, and came to a manhole room where the pipe got even smaller. Deciding it wasn't worth following, I went back to the junction. After shooting a couple photos, I continued along the main branch.
The RCB shrank to a 1650, and then even smaller for a short length before rising back up to 1650 again. Daylight reflected on the walls ahead, and I hurried toward the opening of the infall which let me out into a small canal in a residential neighbourhood.