Pre-season in the Tassie mountains

Last night was a good one. Everything that’s great about Tasmania, the Wild West down South.

I’d missed my team’s last practice match and needed a run, so drove up to the mountains of Scotsdale, where a bush league was having a pre-season lightning Comp, and whored myself to the first team who needed me. I tore a hip muscle, took marks. Everyone on my team shouted me a drink after the game.

Bucket was about, so hopped behind the wheel and drove us to Bridport on the North Coast, because we could. You don’t get pubs like that in the city.
Before long everybody, everybody!, was swaying, fighting, pushing, shoving, howling at a ripper moon, dancing. The pub wasn’t full, just nasty and wild.

Within one beer, the bar staff knew me, and what I was drinking and never had to ask again. If I gravitated towards the bar, they poured.

Big Rooser walked in, 6ft 5, massively wide. We’d played against each other for a few years, 100 clicks away. He’d played State League since he was 16, then moved back, at 23, to run around for Branxholme, a one shop town near where he was from, in the bush.

We swapped beers, then were joined by Bridport’s ruckman, as big as him. I looked around. at 6ft 2 I was one of the smaller blokes there.
I didn’t know anyone other than them, but, thanks to them, before long footy didn’t matter. The place was well drunk. We talked to whoever smashed into us.
I saddled up with the loosest unit there. A massive pshyco with a pigtail down his back, and cruisy, fucked-up heart.

Him, his partner, and his mate had ridden their horses to the pub, tying them up in the bottle-o drive.
One of the horses broke free, said “Fuck this” and went home. The psycho and I got bored and, drinks in hand, mounted the other two horses and made for the beach under brilliant full moon. When we broke into a gallop, I had to neck my beer and throw the mug away and ride.
The tide was low, the moon – the most powerful in twenty years, the radio had said – was shuffling through clouds. I lost my rein, hit the ground hard, saddled up and was away again.
We made it back to the pub just as the cops came for us. We dismounted and they eye-balled us and let it slide.
It must have been after midnight. The bar staff were shouting and trying to physically push us all out.

They didn’t stand a chance.

Somehow, three hours later, I was back on a mountain. My mountain, where the wind had picked up and the moon was still fighting for ground.
I had a week to get over my torn hip muscle for Round 1. I knew I should have iced it, but that was tomorrow’s problem.

I needed sleep.


  1. johnharms says


  2. I’ve never been to Tasmania but I really want to go there now.

  3. I can’t sleep because of this one. Do people really still ride horses to the pub in Tassie?

  4. matt zurbo says

    Not all pubs, but some bush ones. Why not?

  5. haiku bob says

    Love it Matt.
    Traces of Tim Winton and Andrew McGahan in that yarn.

  6. Matt – I heard the other day that people who live in the mountains are exposed to more radiation (natural radiation) than people who live on the coast. So I figured if you point your naked arse towards the moon you might get a free scan on your injured hip.

  7. Why not indeed Matt. Pardon my ignorance. I’m from Queensland. Thinking of relocating to Tasmania though. Sounds Tremendous.

  8. Not many Qlders can handle the winters Joey. Its a great place to visit, the people are fantastic, love the outdoors, the indoors of pubs and they know their footy. I’m sure you can find many a similar story waiting to be writ large after a visit to any one of many poky Qld pubs slightly off the beaten track.

    I met a Launceston bloke who played footy and so had never been out of Tasmania during the winter months. When he retired, he came up to the Sunshine Coast for the August holiday. When told that was as cold as it got, he went home, told his work he was quitting in January and moved up so he didn’t have to face a ‘home’ winter again…

  9. Pamela Sherpa says

    Fantastic tale.

  10. Nice Matt, very nice. I might try one for Otway this year.

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