While walking my dog in the park yesterday, I noticed of all things a sewer vent. The park where I live is composed of thirteen sporting fields, numerous netball courts, a basketball court, a dog park, four separate play equipments and three car parks. The sewer vent is thirteen backyards from mine, though from the house side of the street you can’t see it. Our street is a cul de sac, the end of it curves directly into the dog park, allowing the sewer vent to discreetly peek-out behind the last house on our side of the street. From where it is situated in the park, a open field on the edge of the dog park and next to the twelfth sporting field, and being green the vent almost seamlessly blends into the greenery, despite being a tall pole.
Unlike the glorified Hyde Park Obelisk, Meadowbank sewer vent is a pole with a sewer hole next to it. Being a pole of course serves, to help it blend in with all the miscellaneous utility poles around the suburb and there are many. From street lights to sport field lights, to the poles supporting overhead power lines and the numerous street signs (which even so there never seems to be enough of those). However on closer inspection it appears shorter than the other poles (not counting the street signs), I would estimate that is is between five and nine metres in height.
What led me to discovering it, initially was the smell, a salty dank scent. Suspiciously pungent and familiar. Reminding me of mangroves, the sea and the smell from the Sewage Treatment Plant though on a considerably smaller scale. The smell appears to be coming from the covered sewer hole next to the vent, which begs the question what is the point of a useless utility pole?
The second thing I noticed on closer inspection was the noise, not from the vent itself, but again from the covered sewer hole. A surging, gurgling, bubbling, churning noise of water in constant flow. Much like a tap on full blast or a bubbling, brewing stew and rain as it’s pissing down hard. Another major difference to the Hyde Park Obelisk is the sensorial atmosphere, the smell and the noise have a real presence that doesn’t exist in Hyde Park where the Obelisk is easily mistaken to be part and parcel of the War Memorial simply by being near it and of monumental height.
It is true that both the smell and noise of the Meadowbank vent are quite subtle, only audible within five metres and smells at about three metres distance. I have walked past the sewer vent, walked in Meadowbank park almost my entire life, of course not everyday. I’m sure I’ve seen it before, just never quite put two and two together to really figure out what it was, a classic case of out of sight out of mind.