Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Today (April 25th) is ANZAC Day. ANZAC stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corps. It is a public holiday in both Australia and New Zealand, which commemorates the military service during WWI. It’s similar to Veterans’ Day.

There are two primary traditions on ANZAC Day. The first is a public memorial service called the Dawn Service, which is a reminder of the dawn landing on Gallipoli in 1915. In Canberra, it’s held at the National War Memorial.  The service features hymns, prayers, the procession of veterans and current soldiers, commemorative speeches, etc. It’s a huge deal. People start arriving by 4:30am to be there in time for the 5:30am service. It sounded really interesting, but the 4:30am arrival time discouraged us from choosing to go.

The second, equally popular, tradition is called Two-up. This is an Australian gambling game, which was played by Australian soldiers who were bored and looking for something to pass the time in the trenches. Essentially the idea is that one person places 3 coins on a paddle (which looks to be about the size and shape of a ruler), tosses them into the air, and people bet whether at least two will land on heads or tails.

Traditionally the coins are pennies, which are no longer used in Australia but are taken out once a year for just this occasion. The, usually large, crowd stands in a circle, with the person flipping the coins in the center as well as several other people who are there purely to help manage the betting process by passing around money between participants. Basically, the way the betting works is you find another person that wants to bet the same amount of money for the opposite outcome. Each bet is usually just between two people, so there are many bets taking place at the same time for each toss. The person who calls tails holds the money, and the final money exchange at the outcome is simply on the honor system. There are some more obscure rules and betting options that it seems only true Australians really understand. The game is only legal on ANZAC Day after 1pm and can be found all over Australia at their many pubs and labor clubs. We went to one of the labor clubs near our house to check it out. We had heard it was hugely popular and quite intense with people calling out bets, cheering for their selected choice during the coin toss, and cheering/groaning when the outcome was called. It did not disappoint. Laurel participated on the gambling. She won one and lost the second, so in the end broke even. That seemed pretty good for our first Two-up experience and since most of the minimum bets seemed to start at $20 we stopped there.

We don’t have any photos, but I did get a video on my phone of the action. Unfortunately, our blog has not been letting us post photos for about the last month (hence the lack of recent posts). It doesn’t look like it’s going to be cooperative with the video right now either. Hopefully we’ll be able to sort out the problem soon so we can get out this video as well as a bunch more photos.

1 comment:

  1. And I thought it was all about eating Anzac cookies. Now I am so disappointed!