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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Australia: Session Musicians

Occasionally you get a drinking session that lives with you as a classic of its type, and this was one of them. Soon after returning from my trip round Tasmania, I'd suggested to Andrew that we pop out for a beer on a Friday night, and maybe catch a band: nothing too heavy, just a beer. He suggested Brunswick Street1.

Enter the Pokies!

So is Young and Jackson's Hotel, which houses one of the finest collections of pokies in Melbourne. The pokies – short for poker machines – are the Australian equivalent of fruit machines, and they're a serious problem. Until about two years ago gambling was illegal in Victoria, and everyone used to go to the border towns for their gambling. Now it's been legalized, and it's spread so quickly it's become a serious social problem. A good night's debauchery wouldn't be complete without a gamble, so we hit the pokies.

1 Brunswick is one of those amazing streets: it's a combination of shady clubs, posh restaurants, and fascinating little shops selling arty goods that you can't really believe anybody buys. It's a haven for the bizarre, and as such it's a hoot.