Picture this: 7 blokes set adrift in a small houseboat for three days without contact with anyone else, in one of Australia’s most picturesque waterways, for “fishing”. If you think that this sounds like a cross between Deliverance and Brokeback Mountain, then you wouldn’t be far from the truth.
The weekend started as we boarded the houseboat on Sunday morning, and it wasn’t long until the familiar “tsssh” sound of Daryl opening one of his 5392 beers for the weekend was heard. The other familiar sound of the weekend, Pete crying “Geez, you shoulda seen that one that just got away” was heard not long afterwards, although in between this and loosing the dinghy, he did manage to bring the first one in.
The day progressed as Paul drove the boat erratically, Wayne was forced off the boat to collect the lost dinghy and we ate the first of our 2 meals for the day that entirely consisted of sausages. I caught the most underrated fish of the weekend, and thoroughly did not deserve the worst fisherman award that was thrust upon me at the end of the trip. After the second of these meals, the two scallywags, Pana and Manny showed up, having been taken on somewhat of a ride by a 9-year-old water taxi driver.
The arrival of Manny, the self-proclaimed consummate professional fisherman, and Pana, his sidekick not unlike that little dog in the cartoons that hangs around the big dog saying “can I, huh huh?” (I hope you watch as many cartoons as I do, otherwise that will make no sense), brought about the best of the fishing, and the best of the TV viewing. As night fell, the diehards and their love of untangling fishing lines in the dark headed up to the roof of the boat, whilst the red wine latte set of Paul and myself sat downstairs in the warmth of Paul’s collection of video hits from 1992, which was surprisingly good before and after the red wine, although it does take a bit to make Achy Breaky Heart worth watching. But that was offset by the Laura Branigan film clip.
The fisherman upstairs did manage to bring in one decent fish for the evening, a 4 footer that made a great lunch the next day, and has often been wrongly attributed to Daryl, when Pana actually brought it in. Pete let a number off the line, whilst Manny and Barnsy managed to bring in about 3 different species of eel and 3 different species of shark. When they all finally came downstairs, Pana decided he wanted to play poker. Daryl did not quite understand that you didn’t need to go “all in” every time it was your turn to bet, and Pete and myself managed to win most of the money off the other blokes.
The next day was a little hazy for me as I was looking through the haze of a couple of bottles of red. However something I do have a very clear memory of is the not catching anything all day, the tremendous fish lunch, and the game of trivial pursuit to finish the night. Now a question for the reader. Which hit US sitcom that finished in the 90s had a book written about it called Sein Off? The initial answer from Daryl, who was really quite drunk at this stage and clearly not thinking straight, was Seinfeld. “No”, cries Peter, “That is far too obvious”. We all know a quick game is a good game, so we try to encourage the team to make a decision, and being the generous people we are, lead them to that initial answer. Something like 10 minutes later, after Pete had cried “hang on, hang on, its …” about 5 times, guess what the team resolution was? The Young and the Restless? Well, yes, that was their resolution. And what a great sitcom, that’s still running, that show is by the way.
Another memorable facet of the trip was that we were delighted to play host to the Sydney Symphony Snoring Orchestra. Playing all the classics with just their noses, Pana, Manny and Daryl gave us memorable performances each and every night, and the only downside is that they were too asleep to appreciate it. One night, the vibrations from down the hall were so strong that they forced my earplugs so deep into my ears that in the morning I had to ask Paul to remove one of them with tweezers. The only thing better than this sound of an evening is Pana and Daryl shouting so loudly that most of Brooklyn heard them, and in chorus, “I am the night rider” whilst watching Mad Max. And is there anyone on the trip who will forget Pana’s full moon?
So, to those who didn’t come, this is what you missed out on. It was a tremendous trip, and I didn’t particularly mind not catching anything. It has set the bar high for next year’s trip, and with Pana on the organising committee, one can expect anything. See you at the presentation evening when I come to collect my awards. Marc.
PS A quick addendum - our humble thanks to Paul and Manny for organising the trip, and for negotiating $150 off the final price because the BBQ nearly burnt off Paul's eyebrows. A nice little bonus at the end!