Circle Work

B&S balls are legendary in country Australia. They began as a reasonably sedate opportunity for youngsters from remote properties to meet members of the opposite sex. But they have degenerated into muddy, rum-soaked, all-night drinking sessions, complete with "circle-work" by hungover ute drivers the following morning.

Rural Binge Drinking Rises, Sunday Telegraph, 9 Jan 2000 

Australians (even the unmanly chardonnay drinking ones) love the image of the Australian bush. The legend of the drover and the cattleman who work hard mustering sheep or cattle by day and in the evening, after splashing some water on his face (no need to remove the akubra to do so) sits on the veranda of his home or at the pub and drinks a beer or two with his mates, is dear to every Aussie's heart.

Circle Work in Action

The men and women who live and work on rural properties all over Australia are both the same as us and different to us. Secretly most of us want to be one of them. We buy hats (Akubras) and elastic sided boots (R.M.s) and we wear them to the cattle pavilion at the Royal Show or the Ekka, and stand amongst them at the cattlemen's bar. Some of us even have cattle dogs or kelpies even though we live on a quarter acre block in the suburbs and the closest we ever came to a sheep is the $98 sheepskin puppy pillow the vet told us would help his asthma.

But dressing like them doesn't make you one of them.

To be one of them you have to have always been one of them. Lived the life and known nothing else (at least until you were old enough to know that nothing else was as good).

Your mum and dad would have grown up in the same area. He and his mate used to take your mum and her sister to dances in his older brother's ute at a wooden hall built by the locals to commemorate their sons and husbands and brothers who didn't come back from the war.

One day they went to the local Bachelor and Spinsters Ball (the B & S). A few weeks later they where engaged and some months later no one ever says how many months later) you were born.

It's all tied up with utes and circle work and skirt chasing.

Paul Williams, Australian Institute of Criminology commenting on the B&S, Sunday Telegraph, 9 Jan 2000

The flying doctor was your local g.p. and you did your schooling by correspondence at the kitchen table or in a small timber school (also built to remember the war dead, because there was a bloody lot of them and one timber building wasn't enough to show them how much they were missed) where all the kids where in the same class and the year 7s helped the year 1s with spelling , while the year 3 to 5s (all 3 of them) did maths.

You had your first sip of beer when you were three and you learned to drive before you had hair anywhere on your body other than your head. You knew how to ride (but preferred your Kawasaki to your horse) and knew how to mix the chemicals to spray the crops and the cattle, even though it stung your eyes and was banned 15 years ago in Europe.

The consumption of alcohol is embedded in the culture of rural Australia

Adam Graycar, Director, Australian Institute of Criminology, Sunday Telegraph, 9 Jan 2000

All you ever wanted was to work the land like your dad and a ute when you turned 17, and you got both. The ute was old and white and a holden like your dad's and your grand-dad's (although uncle Mike had a toyota and swore by it, even though dad said it was a piece of shit and what would your mother's brother know anyway).

And each year you'd go to the B & S and drink until you feel down. Then one of your mates would throw you in the back of your ute and you'd sleep in your swag, and wake up with the dew on your face, a headache and a taste in your mouth that only a cigarette would get out (Winfield Red like your dad , although uncle Mike smoked Benson and Hedges even though dad said they tasted like shit and what would your mother's brother know anyway).

Then you'd drive with your mates down to the river and rev your utes, driving them round and round in tighter and tighter circles going faster and faster and every now and then one would roll and someone had a cousin who had been killed doing it. But it was fun and your mates cheered you on and it was more fun if you had a dog or your mates or both in the back, and even better if you had someone's sister in the cab with you because she wanted to join in but was to scared to sit in the back and as you spun her body was pressed harder and harder against yours. And then it was someone else's turn and you went and had a few more beers under the tree with your mates and then had a sleep down by the river where it was cool.

At least that's what you did every year until 1987 when you arrived at the B & S late because you drove back from Ag College and you were a little less pissed then everyone else. That night you ran into Liz who you'd known for years and you got on great and a few weeks later you got engaged and some months after that your daughter was born.

Today I was asked what circle work is. That's circle work.

By Guest Author, Gympie Boy and Circle Work Veteran, Steven Perissinotto

Take a break from drinking like the author of this article did - Read why and how in his book Between Drinks: Escape the Routine, Take Control and Join the Clear Thinkers