Australia’s traditional gambling game of Two-up enjoys a unique association with Broken Hill. For a significant part of the 20th century an illegal Two-up school operated just metres off the main thoroughfare of Argent Street and when that was raided and shut down by police in 1984, City Council successfully applied for a permit to run the game.
Nowadays Two-up can be played every Friday from 9pm @ The Palace Hotel at 227 Argent St.
Phone 08 8088 1699 for more information and group bookings.
Strong links between Two-up and Broken Hill’s miners and itinerate rural workers such as shearers helped elevate this simple game of chance to a special place in Australia’s psyche.
Initially, Two-up was popularised in Australia by poorer English and Irish citizens in the 18th century, with the predilection of the convicts for the game noted as early as 1798 by NSW authorities. By the 1850s, the two-coin form was being played on the goldfields of the eastern colonies and it spread throughout the country following subsequent gold rushes.
Australian soldiers at Gallipoli (and those involved in World War I generally), where Two-up was played in the trenches and on the troop ships, further cemented the game’s position as a part of our national character.
Broken Hill’s illegal Two-up “school” (so named because the players were considered “scholars” of chance) plied a roaring weekend trade behind an infamous green door in Crystal Lane, not far from the corner of Argent and Oxide Streets. It was so well known it became an unofficial tourist attraction before NSW authorities were dispatched from Sydney to close it down in 1984.
In 1992, Broken Hill City Council successfully lobbied the State Government and was granted a permit for Two-up to be played every day of the year. In handing down its decision, the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing acknowledged that Two-up was “an established part of the cultural heritage of this mining city”.
Broken Hill’s position as the Two-up capital of the world was underscored in the locally-shot 1971 film Wake In Fright with English actor Gary Bond’s classic line to Chips Rafferty: “Well, that’s a nice simple-minded game”, concluding a scene that displayed to the world what a chaotic yet mesmerising pursuit Australians had created out of a mere two coins and a small piece of wood.