Welcome to Diamond Creek, about twenty clicks northeast of Melbourne, where they have parks and trees and wildlife, mud brick houses, more coffee and fish and chip shops than you can poke a stick at, a local barber who serves Laphraoig, and a bullock named Diamond for a mascot.
It is, in the words of new chapter president Neil, 'where the bogans meet the bush'.
TGBC Diamond Creek began its life at TGBC Eltham, a quick fifteen minute drive away, when a small army of goons turned out back in July to discuss Richard Brautigan's The Hawkline Monster. Something about surrealist counterculture beat poets really puts bums in seats for us. Or maybe it was because the book was a nice skinny 136 pages. Or maybe because we'd just got a good writeup in The Age? Who knows.
Whatever it was, with more than 20 bodies they could barely fit around a table, let alone hear each other talk. So they followed our procedure for these situations and split the group. It makes for much more meaningful conversation and helps us spread across the country like a weed. We figure, the more men reading and talking, the better. A few Eltham goons were travelling in from Diamond Creek anyway, they had already been eyeballing a likely brewpub for a venue closer to home, and the rest is history.
"Splitting from Eltham chapter was hard as they were all consistently good blokes," says new DC sergeant Guy, "But we knew we had outgrown ourselves."
Luckily - unluckily really, but it's important to see the positives - another surreal monster called COVID was waiting in the wings to kick us all out of the pub, force us back into our houses and onto dinky little computer screens. It was one of the only advantages of lockdown that geography didn't mean much anymore. Goons could say hello across chapters, across states, across countries if you got the time zones right. If you were starting to lose your mind, a similarly affected dude was only a few clicks away.
"Part of all DC members hearts will always be with Eltham," says Neil, "[So] at each lockdown we recombined with no apparent ill effects."
That's basically what Tough Guy Book Club is. A bunch of men you can meet for the very first time, or regularly every month, or go without seeing for donkeys (or bullock's) years - and it doesn't really matter. Someone will always remember your name, and you'll always have something interesting to talk about.