As Tough Guy Book Club slowly takes over the towns, cities, and suburbs of Australia, one area has been an unexpected focus of our expansion plans: Gippsland. For a relatively rural area, Gippsland in South-East Victoria boasts four chapters.
TGBC also has a bit of a new home in Gippsland. Our officially unofficial yearly camp location, Licola Wilderness Village is in Northern Gippsland. We’ve done camp there twice and vowed to return every year. In the past we’ve changed camp locations yearly, but we’ve fallen in love with Licola and it will forever be our home.
Sale was an interesting but not entirely unusual expansion of the club. Our Heyfield chapter (also in Gippsland) was losing a Goon, Clean Pete.
Clean Pete is no stranger to TGBC or starting new chapters. Longer ago than anybody cares to remember, Clean Pete joined the Castlemaine chapter, but decided to move back to his hometown of Heyfield to be closer to his mum. Although it’s a pretty small town, Heyfield remains one of our most successful chapters.
Sale proved to be a bit more of a challenge. Unlike Heyfield, where he had an existing network of friends to promote the club, Pete was relatively new to Sale, meaning it was harder to spread the good word. But that’s what local bookstores, op shops, and just talking to guys in pubs is for. Never underestimate the good conversations you can have with strangers in the pub.
Ultimately that's the story for many of us. We move to a new area and want to make friends with people who have similar interests. So we start a new book club chapter. And it works well. Not only to make friends but to learn about a new community and just get to know your way around.
“I moved back to Heyfield for my mum,” Pete explained. “But after separating from my wife recently, I needed a bit of a sea change and a new start... Sale seemed good enough.”
Sale does seem “good enough”, for TGBC at least. Far enough from Heyfield to get some new guys interested in books (or get guys already interested in books involved), near enough to expand our footprint. And Sale has a great venue for TGBC. The Gippsland Hotel (known as the Gippy) has a dedicated “reading room” that the Goons can take over on the first Wednesday of every month.
And the reading room is getting plenty of use these days. The first Sale meeting talked plenty about the book (The Great Gatsby), but it was also a reunion of sorts. There were visitors from Heyfield. There was talk of motorbikes and local wildlife. There were warnings of the danger of the running over the latter while riding the former at night.
If you want to meet Clean Pete and the Goons of Sale, join them at the Gippsland Hotel at 153 York Street on the first Wednesday of every month. Just ask the bar staff where the reading room is. They'll point you in the right direction.