I was today years old when I discovered there’s a tin shed in the middle of nowhere, outside of Kalgoorlie Western Australia, which is one of only two places in Australia you can legally play two-up all year long. Now, I can’t stop obsessing over it.
I’ve never played two-up. That probably makes me un-Australian but it’s just never appealed to me — until now.
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Broken Hill‘s famous Palace Hotel, and this corrugated iron shed, are the only two-up schools that were ever set up in Australia. That’s why they’re the exception, and you can play the game at these two locations any day of the year. Meanwhile, your local pub can only throw a game on ANZAC Day.
A 10-minute drive out of Kalgoorlie will get you into the bush and to the shed and bush ring — and yes, this is still the original from the 1970s. The exact date of the shed being erected doesn’t seem to exist, probably because games were being played way back in the 1950s and long before two-up was legalised 1983.
The game itself is a total gamble that’s been around since the 1800s. A ‘spinner’ throws two pennies, two metres into the air using a wooden board. Anyone else can bet on whether they’ll land on heads or tails before they hit the ground. Pretty simple and very fast-paced.
“It’s a real interactive gambling experience; you really get the characters and the people coming out,” Danny Sheehan told the ABC back in 2015. He’d been running the Kalgoorlie two-up shed since the 70s, so he ought to know.
“If you go to off-course betting places you find people just staring at a screen, but when you’re playing two-up you’re actually interacting with other people,” he continued.
“What keeps the game going is our regulars that go out there every week; they are what we call ‘scholars’ who are devoted to the game and they just love it. But we also need, and we sometimes get, a few members of the public who aren’t really big gamblers but just pop out there every so often and spend a few bob”.
“We’d like to see more of that. It adds a lot of character and atmosphere to the game”.
Sure, I’ve only ever gambled one time on my 18th birthday, when I put $5 into the pokies (one beer), got up to $10 (two beers) then lost it all (no beers). It all seemed like a boring waste and I haven’t gambled since. This though, this sounds like an adventure and you can catch me in Kalgoorlie.
Games run every Sunday from 1:30 pm, and you can turn up to watch or play. Just imagine making this your ANZAC Day plans? Iconic.
(Lead image: @daniel_hagley_photography)
This post was originally published on April 14th, 2021 and has since been updated.