Every year the Melbourne Cup fills Flemington Racecourse with people in suits and giant hats who believe that for one short day they're high rollers. And like all high rollers, they do a bunch of coke, even if "doing coke" in Australia translates to "doing talcum powder cut with Wizz Fizz and/or glass."
Or that's what I assume anyway. In fact, most Australians who are partial to a line assume our gear is garbage, but do it anyway. But just how bad is coke in Australia? Is it actually, really that bad?
To find out I needed some cocaine purity testers and a large sample size, which is how I ended up at the races.
The place was weird. So many people angry about animals that run faster than other animals. Like, shouting angry.
I got out my testing kits and started asking around. The testing kits were relatively straightforward. You pour a pinhead amount of coke into a solution, give it a shake, and wait for the liquid to change colour. The darker the colour the better the blow, as you can see on this chart.
Test numero uno went to a 24-year-old Jackson from the Gold Coast. Tough break on this one Jacko, because his bag was basically all Wizz Fizz. We mixed it up but the tube remained colourless.
Jackson then insisted that we try his mate's stuff, which he said was better.
VICE: You're right, this one looks better. Are you happy with this?
Jackson: Yeah, sort of. It was good the first day but after a couple of days my nose feels like it's about to fall off. It's been killing us.
Were you expecting this second test batch to come out so dark?
Um, not that dark actually. It was a bit funny at the end, I was a bit spaced out. Back on the coast the coke makes you feel a bit of a high but with this stuff I was just really spaced out.
What is the coke adding to today's festivities?
Not much hey. I've been running on about four hours' sleep since Saturday so it's just sort of keeping me level at the moment.
Four hours sleep since Saturday? Fuck man, it's Tuesday afternoon.
Yeah it's been a big weekend. Oi, if you're having trouble getting people to test their stuff bring 'em back here, the boys will sit in a circle and no one will see a thing.
I soon found another guy willing to give up his sample. I had some other kits that tested what the cocaine sample was cut with. 27-year-old Brian was stoked to have the chance to find out what else he was sniffing, and offered me a bit. It turned out to be cut with ephedrine.
Whaddya know! Brian's 4G saved the day and we learned that ephedrine is an analogue of methamphetamine. It's used for all sorts of stuff from weight loss to narcolepsy. In Australia it's a Schedule 4 medication, meaning it's only available via prescription.
In typical Melbourne fashion the wind picked up and rain appeared out of nowhere, only to subside again. This seemed a theme of the day; alternating half hour shifts of sun and rain.Once the rain subsided I found my next tester.
Hey Gill, are you happy with the quality of your coke?
Yeah I am, I was expecting this was good shit.
Where did you get it?
A mate. I trust him yeah heaps because I used to live with him.
How does it rank amongst your lifetime coke experiences?
6/10. I've been to South America.
How much was a gram of what we just tested in comparison to what you were having in South America?
Three grams of good shit was $20 in Bolivia, as opposed to one gram of this stuff which cost me $300. It sucks, but it is what it is.
After establishing that his shit was pretty good we gave it a test to see what it was cut with. It was also cut with ephedrine, albeit a slightly darker version suggesting minuscule traces of other substances: most likely aspirin or paracetamol.
The sun managed to shine for an extended period of time, so I took advantage of the situation and kept asking around. Most people were very suspicious. Some were even angry I'd asked.
Finally I found another coked up punter. I was about to do the test when some other bloke behind me tapped me on the shoulder. "Mate, mate, cops are coming."
We acted nonchalant while they passed. Yeah the boys.
Sam, 32, was a bit spooked by the cops so we left the cocaine base and found a quiet spot behind the toilets. His coke turned out to be medium.
Look Sam, it could be worse.
Got that right mate! Hey I really gotta run—let's cut the interview short and I'll give you a bump whaddya say?
After that I resumed asking around. This guy didn't have any, and instead showed me how to drink a beer out of a wallet. It was pretty cool.
I was looking for a lighter when I stumbled upon Rachael, 39. After a quick chat she let me test what her blow was cut with.
Hm, very green. According to the chart it's Levamisole.
The fuck is that?
According to Wikipedia it stimulates the immune system so it's used in chemotherapy and to treat worms in pets. It's also a pretty common cutting agent, so you should be fine.
The previous interview was cut short when everyone started cheering and I realised the main race was going on. I don't know who won, and I didn't care. I was happy to see people enjoying themselves, and my faith in Australian cocaine had been somewhat restored. I did not expect to see any dark brown test results, but I was proven wrong, twice.
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