Escape from CLEM7 – When Tunnel Vision Becomes Too Much

In case you didn’t realise, I’m known as “the complaining” type. You know, the type of person that refuses to go anywhere but where he wants to go, and if forced to go somewhere else, will constantly kick up a fuss, whine, and basically make everyone else miserable until he goes home. Yep, that’s me! But in this case, I’m totally justified.

Today, against my better judgement, I was dragged along with my friends to the Grand Opening of the CLEM7 Tunnel – a supposedly revolutionary tunnel that cuts down congestion and travel time in Brisbane. Named after a Former Lord Mayor, it will be the largest road tunnel in the country……until the planned 6.7 km Airport Link tunnel is complete. Whoop-de-doo.

What was so special about today, however, was that the tunnel was going to be open for the public to walk through for one time only. Walking through approximately 5 km of tunnel? Yay. My heart skipped a beat and I dashed forward eagerly. Or rather, I didn’t.

I had a bad feeling about this; I mean, who wants to walk through a hot tunnel with about 10^34 other people there, for hours on end just to say “I did it”? Would you want to sit your grandkids down and say “Kids, I walked through that freaking big tunnel over there.”? They would give you a quizzical look and say “Dad, unless that tunnel was built as an escape from Auschwitz in 1942, you wasted your time.”

I’m going to list my general impressions as I went through the whole charade of being interested for my friends:

  1. Arrived at 1.15pm. Huge area with stalls selling stuff and publicising the event, with many, many, many, many (you get the idea) people. Bought a hotdog; chicken sausage inside was nice. So far, so good.
  2. Passed by several odd roadside buskers doing their thing (an outback music group, a Jamaican trio, etc), as well as an overly-cheerful-she-has-to-be-on-meds MC talking through her microphone, broadcasting to the world.

Now, it turns out that the woman wasn’t crazy after all, because she was repeating three things. The first was “Welcome to CLEM7” which was nice, but not at all helpful. The second was that the end of the bridge was closed and that buses would take people back to the entrance, which was good to know as well. The third was that pedestrians needed to take water inside the walk. It turned out that the last one was the most important of all.

So, we entered the tunnel. At first, it wasn’t so bad. There were huge fans that cooled us down, we were out of the sun, and it was pretty easy going. I started to doubt my earlier trepidation and begun to relax, enjoying myself.

Bad choice. There’s an old saying among the canny: When you let your guard down, life takes the opportunity to kick your ass.

Soon, I started to tire. It got pretty warm, and stupid me, I wore all black clothes (from church). Worse, my friend kept stopping to take photos. I mean, it’s just a bridge! It’s not the 8th wonder of the world…

Looking at my watch, I saw that one hour had gone by. I was sure that we were nearly at the end. Then I saw a sign….1 km gone. WHAT?????

And that was the way for the next 500 metres. Thankfully, we turned around after 1.5km, at the “You are now 60m below the Brisbane River” mark. Still it left 1.5km to walk back, and with the fatigue, the dust blown in our eyes, the uphill struggle….not something I want to remember.

So kids, what have we learnt today?

  1. When your friends drag you along to something and it turns out to be a total waste of time, you have the right to hit them. Hard. Repeatedly. Until they learn their lesson.
  2. Tunnel walking……not a good idea.
  3. Never wear a black T-Shirt and black skinny jeans to a Tunnel Walk. You will get hot, sweaty, sticky…..and if you sit on a concrete slab, you’ll get white dust all over it. Trust me.

By the time we emerged, all the stall-owners had left. Which was what we should have done 3 hours ago. Lesson learnt. We finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel….but we should never had entered in the first place.

Did you ever have a bad experience due to your friends? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

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