Urban exploring is anything to do with exploring your city and manmade structures, often shortened to UE or urbex. It could be abandoned building, mining shafts, or drainage tunnels. This is also referred to as 'draining' and it can be quite dangerous. Tunnels can collapse, stormwater drain can flash flood and have bad air, and abandoned building may expose you to harmful chemicals and asbestos dust. Other possible hazards are things like discarded syringes, rusty and sharp objects, slipping, falling, and unstable nature of old builds. The activity presents various risks, including both physical danger and, if done illegally and/or without permission, the possibility of arrest and punishment. See also the Wikipedia entry on urban exploration.

The catacombs found in Paris are a prime example of this. However, local examples include the mine shafts at Paluma Range, the Hervey Range Train Tunnels, WWII bunkers, old train yard(s), storm water drains, abandoned buildings (like the old hospital), and could even be the Street Art Walking Trail. There are also parkour groups that explore rooftops and construction sites, which is also known as 'rooftopping' or 'skywalking'.

Photographers are also looking for unique and grungy locations. In 2018, some also use quadcopter / drones to fly through and close to building. Location-based games such as Ingress and Pokémon Go also incorporate urban exploration to some extent. The geocachers has also hidden some items around the stormwater drains of Townsville.

turtles graffiti art drain

The Cave Clan is a primarily Australian group dedicated to urban exploration. They have some safety guidelines on their website and other information.

Cave Clan logo
Cave Clan

For stormwater drains, the entrance will start at a waterway (canal, creek, river, lake, beach etc). Sometimes the drain will be made out of a variety of different materials, the most common is concrete but also could be other materials such as redbrick, bluestone, plastic, corrugated steel, sandstone, and even carved through natural rock. Occasionally, you will come across animals and insects such as cats, bats, and cockroaches. After a while, the tunnel will more then likely do one of two things; turn back into a creek or shrink down into an awkward height. The latter are called 'shrinkers'.

Note that many places where people explore are private property, defence land, or Townsville city council managed land and is mostly illegal. Gaining written permission for some of these places is highly unlikely.

This article was written as an historical, informative, and educational document. Wanderstories and the author(s) of the article do not encourage activities that are illegal or potentially harmful. See the General Disclaimer. Note that not all urban exploring is illegal and UE can simply refer to walking the streets of the city, likely looking at the street art. Do your own research, and always think "Do I have permission?", "Is this illegal?", "Is this harmful to my health?", "What could go wrong?", and "How can I stay safe?".