ANZAC Day Two-up is a labour of love for Gus Gardiner


Victoria Stone-Meadows


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BOXER: Gus Gardiner loves managed the annual game of Two-Up at The Central in Port Douglas. Image: Victoria Stone-Meadows.

The annual game of two-up played exclusively on ANZAC Day has become an ingrained part of the remembrance tradition.

For one day a year, the gambling game of tossing coins in the air and betting on how they will fall is legal throughout Australian pubs.

For the last eight years, Gus Gardiner has hosted the game in Port Douglas, taking on the role of ‘boxer’ who calls the game and manages the ‘spinner’.

Mr Gardiner has a long history of performing in Port Douglas and says the annual two-up game is something he always looks forward to.

“It’s a really tough gig, six or seven hours of spruiking and going hard,” he said.

“When I’m in the ring, I feel like I’m in a backyard with a bunch of my friends, its really good stuff.”

“Managing two-up in Port came naturally, you have to make split-second calls and sometimes people get pissed-off but I’m used to that being an entertainer.

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“It’s a great gig though and we raise money for the RSL, about $5000 a year.”

As well as getting the opportunity to catch up with old friends and familiar faces, Mr Gardiner has a personal connection to the game.

“My grandfather was Frances ‘Frank’ Bennett, he served in Egypt and Crete and he was the ringmaster for two-up games back then; he did what I do now,” he said.

“The connection of him being a digger and ‘boxer’ is really special to me.”

He said the secret to successfully running a game of two-up is knowing how to control the crowd and deal with hecklers in a good-natured way.

He said the atmosphere at the pub on ANZAC Day is really great and everyone is there to have a great time and everyone usually does.

He also said it’s not just himself that makes the day fun for everyone who participates.

“Helen Colvin, the manager of The Central for the last 11 years, has been the main force behind two-up and raising money for the diggers,” he said.

“Last year she was honoured on ANZAC Day with an RSL award for her service to the community for her fundraising efforts.”

Mr Gardiner has been a regular in the Port Douglas music and entertainment scene for a long time until family life whisked him away to Mackay about five years ago.

However, he is excited to say he is moving back to Port Douglas and said he is thrilled to reconnect with the friends he left behind.

“I’m moving back in July with my daughter, she’s almost 15 now and she’s wrapped to be coming to Port,” he said.

“I can’t wait, I know everyone here and everyone knows me; it has always felt like home.” 

Watch the game in action here:

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