So, having shamefully abandoned my blog for my entire holiday, did I travel Sydney like a local?
Yes, I think I did.
I have to say, the Aussie’s made my task almost infallible. They’re just so damn lovely. Friendly, laid-back, charmingly informal. Just ordering a drink can (and often does) develop into a lengthy and amicable chat about places the barman has been in the UK, places you should visit in Australia, great aunts who used to work in Grimsby…
In true best-laid-plans style, our couch surfing quest rather fell on it’s arse due to complete lack of response from potential hosts (what am I doing wrong?). Our dancing with the Aussie’s quest was reduced to two dances in a park at a lunchtime (albeit with a very welcoming group), and my knee injury put a stop to any plans I was harbouring re- yoga classes or running clubs.
HOWEVER, just as life craps on one plan, it gifts a whole new experience that you’d never even conceived of (a travel truth wherever you may go). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you 2-up.
The lesser-known game of 2-up, was illegal for years in Australia. Whether it’s played anywhere else, I haven’t the foggiest. This was certainly the first I’d ever heard of it. It’s now still illegal in Australia. Except on Anzac Day (remembrance day for huge loss of Aussie and New Zealand troops in a futile WW1 battle at Gallipoli in Turkey). It’s popularity with Anzac soldiers on the front line has earned it enough nostalgia to be considered a commemorative activity, it seems. Great news, as it happens to be tremendous amounts of fun.
It’s basically just betting on heads or tails. Yes, that simple. Somebody throws three coins in the air simultaneously and people gather around, putting money on the outcome. Sounds a touch over-simplistic, no? Well, let me illustrate just how entertaining this simple little game is…
Being in Hunter Valley for Anzac day, we’d done our research into where to find 2-up and hiked to an irish pub a few miles away. By the time we arrived, both (strapping 6ft-something) men were starving and declared food as number one priority. Then, 2-up happened. We had to pass it, to get to the food. THREE HOURS LATER (and a combined $60 poorer) they remembered they were hungry. Yes, that entertaining.
It took a while to make any sense of the crowd of people waving money about and shouting…
…but with the help of a nearby Aussie, we were soon waving notes and shouting with the rest of them.
It works like this. You decide whether you want to bet on heads or tails. You then wave the amount you’d like to bet above your head, whilst yelling your betting intentions; ten on heads! Ten on heads! Until somebody who fancies the same amount on the opposite side of the coins takes your bet. The three coins are tossed and whichever takes the majority wins. You then either kiss goodbye to your tenner or beam at the guy handing you his. That simple. It turns out, making bets with neighbouring members of the crowd, glass of wine in hand, makes for a very happy and exciting few hours. It certainly ticked the ‘travel like a local’ box. We chatted happily away to our fellow gamblers, and didn’t see many other tourists. We left feeling we’d experienced something uniquely Aussie, like locals.
There were many tourist highlights in our trip (cuddling a Koala, catching the Manly Ferry), and we ticked off most of the top rated Sydney attractions on Trip Advisor, but our ‘local’ highlight stood out by a long way, and like many ‘travel local’ moments, will be the story we’re telling for years to come.