What is goon? – An education in surviving a night on the goon!

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As you can probably tell from the title of this post, it will delve into the depraved depths of a “goonover” and give an answer to the question, What is goon? Trust me if you’re planning to backpack your way around Australia in the future and like a good drink, you will learn the hard way! If you’ve already been travelling around Australia, then the chances are you’ll be able to relate to this post.

So what is goon?

To answer that question, you know when you’re watching some random TV program about some posh restaurant and the wine waiter slides over to the table like he’s levitating, white towel draped over arm, ” Château Lafite Rothschild sir?” yeh, it’s NOT that!!!

This stuff comes in a silvery foil bag inside a cardboard box for $14 a gallon and not a puny US gallon, a full fat UK gallon. The alcohol %vol varies from 9% to 14%. The label on the box even states that “this product may contain fish”.

What? Fish!? Yes fish, after digging deeper, apparently wine can be refined using dried fish bladders. This stuff is bad enough without worrying if there’s fish guts floating around in the silvery bag, I wonder if that’s why it’s silver and not transparent!? 😉

One day I was sat having a chat with another backpacker I met in South Australia, the conversation turned to goon, particularly about picking grapes that were going to make goon. Now if you’re picking grapes that go to making fine wine then you snip each bunch off the vine and with two hands lay the bunch in a basket like you’re handling a new born baby for the first time.

On the other hand, Scott says picking “goon grapes”, you simply grip the top of the vine with both hands and drag everything off each vine into your bucket. Grapes, leafs, twigs and all!

Apparently at $1 a bucket you can make a good living on picking goon grapes.

Why is it called goon?

So, that’s the explanation of “what is goon?” but why is it called goon!?

Now this is a bit of a myth amongst backpackers, whether there’s any truth in it, I just don’t know but this is what you’ll hear through the grapevine… Sorry, terrible I know.

Apparently, the story goes…. Goon is an Aboriginal word that means pillow. Fair enough but how do you get from a box of wine to a pillow?

Well, after you’ve finished drinking a gallon of “goon” needless to say you’ll need a lie down! Simply rip the box open, drag the silver bag out, blow it up, find a park bench and you’re away!!!

Again, I don’t know if there’s any truth in that last paragraph, but believe me, I have blown the silver bag up and yes, it would work as a pillow. Having said that, I never actually saw anyone using the “goon bag” as a pillow.

Who drinks goon? and which is best?

One thing is for sure, you won’t catch many Aussie’s drinking goon, to be fair there is good reason for it. Goon is also known as backpacker fuel, when you’re paying $60 for 24 bottles of Corona, unless you’re working on the gold mines, at some point you’ll be “on the goon”.

To my knowledge there are 3 main categories of goon:

  • The good: Golden Oak, fruity lexia – As Connie would say “fruity lexia, makes them there girls sexier” I don’t know about that Connie but in my opinion the most palatable one out of the lot. Sweet and fruity.

  • The bad: Coolabah, white – Your standard cheap, nasty, dry white. This is probably the most popular goon that you’ll see floating around backpacker hostel tables.
  • The down right distasteful: Sovereign Red – This stuff is just evil, one sip and it feels like your face is about to turn inside out. One glass full and it feels like the only thing rattling round your cranial cavity must resemble a shrivelled up walnut. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been a fan of red wine but even hardened veterans can’t stomach this nasty shit!

  • Then there is always the “posh goon”, if there is such a thing! While staying in the Riverland South Australia, home to Banrock Station and Berri estates, there was a little expedition to the local wineries and yes, all boxed wine was not created equal! Take this Banrock Station boxed wine, looks a bit like goon but more expensive and pretty tasty! There’s plenty variety when it comes to posh goon. Some of it is just better made wine while some of it is infused with peaches or strawberries for a refreshing beverage.

If it’s so nasty why does anyone drink this crap!?

One resounding reason!! It’s cheap, dirt cheap! Put 40 people in a hostel in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do, they’re gonna want to get drunk… Every day!

$60-70 for a crate of middle off the road beers is just far too expensive for every night, especially when for $14 you can get steaming for 2 nights.

There is another reason. Drinking games like goon pong. Fill up 10 small plastic cups with your finest goon, place in a triangle shape, one triangle at each end of a 6-foot table.

Object of the game is to throw a ping-pong ball into one of your opponents cups to make them drink it. If you’re going to play this game you’ve got to be good otherwise if your opponent keeps hitting your cups then you’re going to be pretty drunk, pretty quick and that only makes your aim worse.

Many cups get knocked over and spilt, especially when you’re all drunk but at 50c a cup, who gives a crap! Try this game with beer and it’ll cost you $25 a game!!!

load that bong!!!

Also, because it’s not carbonated it’s good for using in the good old beer bong, basically a funnel with a bit of hose pipe attached. Load it up with goon and make sure no one walks past at the last second and pours a load of whiskey in with it.

In a nutshell, a box of goon is a communal thing, no one wants to get drunk on their own. You buy a box bang it on the table and you can get like 5 people drunk for next to no money, pretty sure next time it’ll be there box that you’re all drinking. Someone always has a box of goon for that last minute drinking session.

Goon will always have a place in Australian backpacker society because it’s readily available and it’s cheap enough for poor backpackers to buy.

What about the “goonovers” then?

Oh you’ll find out orite!!! Some of the worst hangovers I’ve ever had, drink that red stuff I mentioned earlier and just pray not to wake up. Pretty much everyone says the same, another thing quite a few people reported, was weird dreams after a night on the goon!

Throughout my whole drinking career, I’ve never been lucky enough to be one of these people that couldn’t speak last night but are fresh as a daisy this morning, how do they do it!? I would have to say that goonovers are a fair bit worse than if you’ve just been on the lager all night.

Backpacking Australia and like a drink!? Then no doubt you’ll be “on the goon”. One thing you should get in the habit of doing is drinking at least half the volume of consumed goon in water before going to bed.

If you’ve been drinking that horrible soverign red then you’ll need to drink at least the same amount of water as red goon that you’ve drunk. It’s the only way to survive!!

So to conclude….

What is goon? I saw goon as being responsible for many good times, many arguments and the death of a few relationships (well until tomorrow), I’m also sure that it’s responsible for enough unplanned children to populate a small…. Scratch that! fairly large country.

Goon is an Australian backpacker staple, there’s no escaping it, you travel round Australia for a year you WILL be on the goon and you will suffer many goonovers.

I had some of my best times drunk as hell on goon, not knowing my own name, don’t try to avoid it…. Embrace it!

Oh and if you’re a vegetarian, give the label a quick read.

I hope that has answered the question of “what is goon?”. Have you got any experiences of goon!? I and I’m sure the other readers would love to hear them… Fill that comments box!!

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