25 Apr

Well to be honest, I had to look it up online, but essentially ANZAC Day is a public holiday in both Australia and New Zealand, falling on the 25th of April every year to mark the anniversary of the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) in WWI. Australia had only been considered a federal commonwealth for 13 years when the war broke out in 1914, so this was their big chance to establish their reputation internationally. The ANZACS landed in Gallipoli on April 25th with the mission to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) from the Ottoman Turks. Months later it resulted in a stalemate and over 8,000 Australian deaths. Now the 25th is a day for remembering the brave soldiers who have fought and served in war, similar to our Veterans Day at home. Although ANZAC Day seems to be much more highly recognized and celebrated in Australia. I guess Australians pretty much use any excuse to have a beer.

Britt, myself, and Miranda: eager to learn Two-Up

We celebrated ANZAC Day by participating in the usual game of “Two-Up.” The ANZACs used to play this game at their campsites, so it became legalised on ANZAC Day in their honour. This is the only day of the year when RSLs and pubs all across the country are able to play the game. Essentially, Two-Up is a game of heads and tails. If you bet on heads, you are betting that both coins tossed in unison will land on heads. If you bet on tails, you are betting that both coins land on tails. If one lands on heads and the other on tails, the coins are re-tossed.

The layout is set so that there is a designated circle in the center of the floor on which no one may stand except for the “spinner,” the person who actually tosses the coins into the air. Before tossing the coins, everyone places their bets. For instance, I would stand on the edge of the circle and yell “$20 on tails!” and then someone would match my bet. (They would be betting $20 on heads.) So it would be me versus the person who took my bet. The money waits at the feet of the person betting on heads. The “boxer” who organises the gambling makes sure that all bets have been matched and are ready to go before the spinner tosses the coins. Once all bets have been made, the “ringkeeper” gives the “kip” to the spinner. The kip is a flat piece of wood, just big enough to hold two coins, one facing up and the other down. The spinner then uses the kip to throw the coins into the air without actually touching them. If the coins aren’t tossed high enough or if they don’t have enough rotation on them, the spinner has to toss them again.

giving it a go as the spinner

I was a pretty excellent gambler for the first half of the day with winnings up into the $200 range. Most of my bets were placed on tails, and I usually only bet $10 at a time. However as soon as I became the spinner, my luck turned around. I didn’t realize that spinners always have to bet on heads. With one perfect spin, my coins landed on tails. I gave a little cheer and then turned around to redeem my winnings, but instead of getting $40 (I bet $20 that time), I was shuffled off the floor. The spinner only tosses the coins until they lose. Then a new spinner is brought in. Bummer!

shuffled off after my loss as spinner

After that I pretty much started losing consistently, so I threw in the towel when I got back down to a $40 deficit.  We played around at the RSL in Randwick, sipping on shouts of beers and then betting occasionally. Once it got a bit darker, we left for a decent feed at Oporto’s, where I got my usual Otropo burger with chicken and pineapple, yum! Shortly after, Britt and I sampled the scene at the Clovelly Hotel, which had a very interesting mix of people, but no Two-Up that we could find. Then we decided to follow the guys to the Clovelly RSL down the street, where we didn’t participate in any more Two-Up (the floor was packed!) but celebrated the ANZACs (and other veterans) by dutifully drinking our beer. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, oi, oi!


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