That is the question printed on the stubby holders for sale in the Tooleybuc Hotel. And if they don’t know where it is; what hope does anyone else have?
OK, I’ll tell you where it is. Tooleybuc is about a half hour drive out of Swan Hill on the New South Wales side of the Murray River. It’s big enough to have a pub and also boasts an inordinate amount of hotels, a post office, a general store and the substantial Tooleybuc Sports Club that hails from the era before pokies infiltrated the pubs of Victoria and South Australia.
Now you can play the pokies at home so the main attractions of the town of Tooleybuc are the river, its golf course and the lawn bowling greens. The fishing is said to be good but all we caught was an unimpressive looking stick and some crab netting. There must be a knack to it.
A good rule of thumb for playing the pokies is to never play in your home state. Why people ever drove so far to push buttons is beyond me but I did on a few occasions on this trip feed the beast its meal of gold coins. They dutifully spat me back a few coins to keep me interested but then ate them back up again over the course of the weekend. Seeing a friend win the $1600 jackpot on the first night was, in hindsight, a good thing for him and the Tooleybuc Sports Club; but not so good for me.
But life probably was better for everyone when these Murray River towns were the only place where you could play the pokies. They got to build their lush sporting clubs, facilities beyond what a farming town could otherwise afford. And the punters had to go to the trouble of booking a bus trip and a night’s accommodation for the pleasure of losing their wages.
Since pokies were introduced to Victoria in 1992 things have changed for these border towns. They don’t attract the bus loads of oldies on pokies trips anymore however I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people eating dinner at the Sports Club on a Sunday night. We stayed in brand new cabins down by the river so people must still be visiting. I was expecting Tooleybuc to be a town past its prime but the disproportionate amount of accommodation options (3 hotels, the river front cabins and a caravan park) all seemed to be in business.
The slogan on the Murray River Tourist website is ‘Try your luck in Tooleybuc’ so pack your gold coins and a fishing rod. Hopefully you’ll have more luck than me!