There’s a wealth of tradition in the dust of the outback.
It’s an unusual shed. Situated a few hundred metres down a dirt track meandering through the glossy bronze trunks of the gimlet trees in this sparse section of the Great Western Woodlands, the Two Up School Shed takes centre stage in its own wide clearing.
It is round, has a massive hole in its roof, is clad in a haphazard array of lengths of tin of varied length, colour and shades of rust. With sections of its walls wide open to cooling breezes, it is unarguably functional.
A big, circular, level area occupies most of the shed. A dirt-floored, widish passageway around the edges takes up the rest of the interior of the shed — enough room for a good jostle, haggle and placement of bets.
This is one of only a few locations where two up — that uniquely Australian coin-tossing gambling game reserved for Anzac Day and other occasions, such as the end of Kalgoorlie’s Diggers and Dealers, or after the races on certain days at Leonora — can be legally played in Australia. Games are held here every Sunday, though I strongly suggest you check with the visitors centre for days, times and availability.
Two up has been run in Kalgoorlie by a father-son team since the 1970s. You can come here to learn how to play two up, too. The rules are very simple: a “spinner” flips two coins 3m high within the centre level area. (Traditionally, due to their size and weight, the coins are pennies from the pre-World War II era.) Bets are taken between individuals on the outcome of the fall: both heads up, both tails up, or one up of each.
Sadly the Two Up School was not open on the day we visited. I would have liked to have learnt more about the “dark art” and mystic skills which create the uproar and yelling which has always accompanied the two up events I have attended.
However, the shed itself is worth the visit solely for its unique architecture. It is easily accessible, just off the Goldfields Highway just north of Kalgoorlie. It’s also a good introduction to a rewarding exploration of the quirkiness, fun, practicality and, if you appreciate the gentle ambience of the Great Western Woodlands, serenity of both the Goldfields region and its capital.
More on travel in the Goldfields at goldfieldstourism.com.au.