All About the Anzac

Australia, Hotels & Resorts, Parties, Festivals & Events, Tours & Attractions — By on June 4, 2007 at 7:14 pm


The first time I’d heard the word “Anzac,” it was used to describe a delicious, chewy cookie made from rolled oats, granulated sugar and shredded coconut. So, imagine my delight when I arrived in Sydney and learned that Australians have an entire holiday dedicated to Anzac, celebrated annually on April 25th. On every signpost from Bondi to the Harbor, the girls and I spotted posters announcing Anzac Day parades, demonstrations and events, and it appeared that the whole city was getting ready to shut down in order to celebrate.

I was incredibly psyched for the upcoming baked goods bonanza until I learned that ANZAC Day actually marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. It seemed that this holiday was the local version of Memorial Day, except that the parties are bigger and the drinking games far more lively!

Swept up by the excitement, we decided to join the millions of Aussies heading out to celebrate the might of their great nation–and a Wednesday off from work!–with Victoria Bitters and several rounds of “two-up,” a dice game that so addictive that play is only permitted on Anzac Day.

We got to our watering hole of choice–The Beach Road Hotel–just after lunchtime so we could learn the rules of two-up before the place got too packed. Holly and I stationed ourselves around the edges of the game, which was already in screaming progress, and asked the guys around us to explain the rules. Fortunately, they seemed all too happy to help us get involved!

We watched as a player in the middle of a massive circle held a short paddle loaded up with three coins, all marked “X” on one side to indicate “tails.” All around him, people waved their cash, shouting “2o on heads! 50 on heads!” hoping to find another spectator willing to bet the same amount on tails. Everyone cheered at the player in the middle flipped the paddle, trying to flip the coins high enough to constitute a good roll, but not so high that they hit the roof. Once the coins dropped to the floor, the spectators would either cheer or groan–at least two had to go their way, head or tails, to incidate a win. The player in the middle had to roll heads three times in a row in order to take home a large pot of cash–no easy feat!

Four hours, fifty bets and a few cocktails later, Hol and I were on a roll, screaming like crazy–losing our voices, but winning big.

Five hours, ten more bets and a few bottles of cheap beer later, we’d somehow lost all of our cash but made a zillion new Australian friends! Rather than try to explain the mayhem, I’m posting this clip from our Anzac Day Madness. Are we having fun yet??

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    1 Comment

  • Scott from Oregon says:

    You three look like you are having a blast. I did what you are doing 20 years ago for about ten years. You are making me travel-sick…