Easy to learn, quickly addictive, and taking a lifetime to master, Trugo is the mutant love child of lawn bowling, golf, and croquet. It’s traditionally played in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
A literally backwards game—as in, the players are facing with their backs facing the goals—Trugo was invented in the 1920s by railway workers looking for some fun during a break. Using their mallets and sledgehammers, they whacked rubber rings (made from the inside of buffers) the length of one of their famous “Red Rattler” trains (about 90 feet). The aim of the game was to hit the ring between goal posts that approximately measured the distance between carriage seats or train tracks.
Players today use rubber-tipped mallets made of red gum or pine. They rest one of the rings on a plate, turn their back to the court (which is still about the length of a train carriage), and swing their mallets as hard as possible, hoping to hit the ring between the goal.
Successful hits will make it to the back of a large net held by the catcher, and win or lose, players typically retire to the pavilion to have a pie and maybe a cold beverage—or three. If you get a perfect score in the game (24 points, one point for each shot), your name goes in a special scorebook. Don’t expect that to happen too often, though.
The mural on the corner of Canterbury Street in Yarraville was painted in 2003 by an artist named Peter McMahon. It celebrates the odd, yet beloved local sport, and even features one of the iconic “Red Rattler” trains that helped inspire Trugo.
Know Before You Go
The season runs September to April.