Adventures in Oz

The Bendigo bank job

Australia in the late 1990s something big was going down in a small town named Caulfied,
This town ship is around 6 miles from Melbourne, there is bugger all there except a train track and a few wooden and corrugated clad shops ..... And a group of tough Ozzy blokes moving a huge bank safe on a pallet truck.
"Left a bit Bruce" "forward" "push harder Davo" "STOP FUCKING STOP NOW"

With an almighty bang and the sound of splintering floor boards the tonne weight of steel safe crashed through the old chemists floor into the cellar ten feet below.
The three sweaty dusty and shit covered men were peering down into the darkness to try and see where the safe and pallet truck had gone,
" Lets call it a day and grab a few cold ones.....sort this one out later " Davo said and with that the disused chemist door was bolted shut and the men went away to work out a plan.

This is where i come into play, The Bendigo bank had the Idea of buying up small units, shops etc in the outback and small towns throughout Australia so people could have access to money without driving miles to get it.
My brother Dan had a contract to fit out these buildings turning them into banks, that included the counters, security doors and exterior panels. He did not however expect to find a huge hole in the rear of the building where the floor should have been.The safe had been removed via an entrance in the cellar and something was needed to brace the new floor and mount the tonne weight on when brought back a few weeks later.

I was stuck in a freezing workshop repairing the chassis of a cement mixer when my old faithful Nokia started vibrating in my pocket,Dan was calling me from Oz, bloody hell this must be serious I thought."wotcha bruv, fancy a welding job" were the magic words that came from the phone

Now Dan is a top class chippy, My dad and brother were both extremely good in the wizardry of joining sticks together without seeing the joints, Me on the other hand....not so good....dont get me wrong, I can build anything, however making joints vanish was not my forte. I took up metal work and learnt to weld,

The job in hand was to make a 10 foot high steel plinth that would have a concrete top and cemented into the cellar floor, this was to sit the safe on, the floor would be replaced around it and there was some extra steel work needed around the doors.

That was it, I told my boss that I would be away for a few weeks, Family issues in Australia....I packed my bags and booked a ticket, This was the second trip to visit my brother and it usually involved work, I did not mind this because work paid money, money paid for beer and beer made me happy.
A couple days later I was 40 000 feet above the Earth and on route to Melbourne ,
That is one bloody long flight, It was a cheap ticket and I was squeezed into the middle seat with jabba the hut one side and an annoying gob shite the other,

After 24 hours the plane touched down and I went through customs..
Fucking hell they are strict here,

"Do you have a work permit" No im on holiday

"have you anything that may contain alien species to Australia" I thought about saying "Yes politeness" but thought better of it

"where are you staying" my brothers house"

"Whats the address" There were more questions here than a round on mastermind and after what seemed to be a life time I was allowed through the gates to be greeted by my younger brother Dan.

His old Valiant station wagon had died a few months earlier and the Ford he had now was the dogs nuts, It was huge and after we had slung my suit case into the back there was still loads of room for beer,We set off back to his BAT CAVE, this was the house he lived in and within half an hour of unpacking we were pub bound...It didnt usually take that long but i needed new skidders and a clean shirt.

Over a few ice cold Victoria bitters we discussed the plans for this plinth and how much material was needed, approximately the cost and how long to do the job, The next morning we went over it again because everything was a blur and the notes we had so carefully written down were still on the beer mat in the bloody pub

Metal was ordered, cement and post mix purchased and welder hired....Bank job here we come
This town was a 20 minute drive away but it took nearly an hour, this is due to the town having a train track running through the middle of it. The country is so big and empty that trains carry huge amounts of stock and on this occasion the freight train was over 100 carriages long, Yep I counted every fucking one of them as they slowly trundled by.

The old Chemist was on a corner plot and the first job was to get inside and make good the floor, I was in the dark dusty cellar digging holes for the metal posts that will be supporting the safe, These had to be in the correct position and deep enough for a good dose of post mix, The steel angle arrived and i set about fabricating the plinth.By the end of the day everything was made and in place, we laid a cement floor onto the top of the steel structure and left that to dry over night while we prepared ourselves for the next day while downing more ice cold beer.

All was good when we arrived the next day and after a weeks hard work in the sweltering heat the job was finished and Dan said that we needed a break away to chill out and to detox our bodies, for every ounce of sweat that came out of me I replaced it with a pint of falling over liquid...So to say I had drunk a fair amount would be an under-statement.

The invoice was sent to the Bendigo bank and my brother was paid straight away, He handed over nearly a grand in Ozzy dollars and said that should keep me going for a while, Christmas had come early, spending time with my brother, working in the sunshine, enjoying the job and getting more money than I got at home welding up shitty motors....Sweet

"Wilson Prom" Dan said to me the next morning
"Whats that" I asked, and he told me that it was a massive nature reserve down on the coast and that was our next stop.

With a fist full of ozzy dollars and a hangover that would take out a dinosaur Dan suggested we take a break away for a much needed detox.

Wilsons prom is around 200km away and a huge nature reserve covering 500 square kilometers, Its nature at its best with sand so clean it squeaks when you walk on it and rivers that run golden brown due to the tea tree oil in them.

There are camp sites scattered all around and unlike our camps where you get a bog and a shower theses have BBQ points and free camping, there are even large communal areas built up around monster fire places and lots of benches
When the summer temperatures reach 35-40 deg and the risk of fire is possible the BBQ areas are shut down , lucky for us the fire place was still in use on that occasion.

Dan checked the car over before we set off on the 3 hour road trip, Yep no flat tyres , lets pack up and go.
I gathered up some togs for the weekend away and grabbed some grub out the freezer for the old gas barby, snags (sausages) chook (chicken) and beef burgers
Dan packed the tent and everything else we needed for our wild camping trip

The old Ford station wagon was full to the gunnels and with a tank of gas we set off coast bound
Ozzy drivers are not the best, they do drive on the same side as us however the need for stronger glasses should be forced upon them because they can not see fuck all, It was like running the gauntlet and with my nerves in tatters we rocked up at Wilsons prom around midday

There were quite a few tents spread around the large grassed camp site and we found a spot not too far from the open fire and communal area, I opened the tail gate of the wagon and started to un-pack the contents, grub, sleeping bags, barby, slab of carlton cold beer, tent, bottle of bundy rum, pillows, gas bottle.....Hang on where did the grog come from, I thought it was a detox weekend.

Dan said that it was a detox because this was medicinal, you cant just come off weeks of alcohol abuse need to do it slowly....Fair point taken

I assembled the barby and started to sling on the chicken legs and sausages, the smell was something else, open clean air, camp fires burning and the sound of "FUCKING SHITTING BOLLOX" echoing across the camp site.

The gas bottle that Dan had chucked in the motor had only enough gas in it to warm the grub and we were starving, with a few dutch courage beers in me I strolled over to a group of very posh female students in matching walking boots and yellow jackets,
In my poshest English accent I asked if we could borrow their open fire to cook our grub.As i expected the answer was " no go away and leave us alone" and was also told that I should have prepared before I came away....... what a bitch

The sun was setting and the wild animals were giving us a evening of tunes that you can only imagine.A right old racket, nothing like a wild life documentary.

Out the corner of my eye i noticed Dan was charming another group of girls sitting around a huge fire place and he pulled out the trump card ...The bottle of bundy rum
I mooched over with the tray of luke warm food and sat down next to them.
Dan explained the predicament we were in and said if they provided some flames and some coke to mix with the rum we were happy to share out the beer and bundy.

Job done, I stuck the tray of grub on the fire and we spent the next few hours chatting and drinking and drinking and drinking
The food was forgotten and soon became charcoal , we all got very drunk and as the girls wobbled back to their tents Dan produced a loaf of bread,

"whats the bread for" I asked
"wombats love bread" Dan replied and with that comment rattling around my alcohol filled head he crawled off and chucked the bread all around and inside the posh stuck up girls tents.

He crawled back under the cover of darkness and we settled in to wait and watch for the feeding frenzy of the wombats

It was a long day and with the help of mr bundy and mr calton cold we fell asleep only to be woken by the screams of girls splitting the air a few moments later
came the cries....girls in nothing but underwear were running around with torches, screaming at each other and heading for the minibus that brought them down to the prom

Me and Dan were pissing ourselves, surrounded by empty cans next to the fire we watched for a while until the Benny hill sketch had died down and then headed back to tent to crash out .

The next morning I awoke covered in bites, we had pitched the fucking tent on an ants nest the previous day....That was it, the boot of the car was mine for the following night and after moving the tent over a few feet we gathered out shit together and went for a mooch

Along a sandy path heading for squeaky beach we spotted a great brown snake spread out soaking up the morning sun, This monster was about 10 feet long and it looked like a log, Not that far behind us was YEP the posh crowd and from a safe distance in the bushes me and Dan decided to hide and throw twigs at the prehistoric serpent until it got the hump and headed off in the direction of the toffs.

Bloody hell that made my weekend, I thought the screams from last night were loud, these could have woke the dead and to see a dozen bright yellow jacket clad teenagers legging it back the way they had just came was so hilarious that I actually pissed my self, not much, just a tinkle but nether the less still had to change my skidders

This was not the detox that i had expected however it brought me and Dan closer with laughter and Laughter is better than any medicine....except chemo and penicillin and .........