The Day I Counted A Million Bucks In Small Notes

The Day I Counted A Million Bucks In Small Notes


Narara_TicketStory by Robert Young - Jands Executive Director

OK, OK, OK! So we all read in the last issue of Backstage about the unforgettable Rock Isle (Mulwala) Festival in 1972 and the excitement of being part of the early music movement, aluminium brief cases, tight jeans and big belt buckles. But what about all the forgotten people in the industry?...I relay a festival story only for “Bean Counters”…the accountant’s account of Narara 1983.

Narara was to be The Big Festival. A large group of promoters were needed to put it together, discussions to State Government, approvals, licences etc etc etc. Sufficient to say lots of work was done behind the scenes while the fun guys with shiny brief cases, big trucks, big lights and big speakers did their thing.

The representatives of two of the promoters were put in charge of Entrance Detail, General Security and Money. The one in charge of security had a contingent of gentlemen with large muscles who made sure the entrance was well secured against theft, riot and general riff raff. Unfortunately, despite this muscle, when the “Tattoo Guy” turned up (see photo below) and wanted to set up shop inside the grounds the hired muscle ran away leaving my associate to deal with the very scary guy by himself. This was handled with tact and aplomb. Entry continued with the muscle returning to duty. That is until the Hell’s Angels turned up wanting to know why they weren’t given the security job! Naturally, the security contingent again disappeared, the rest of the Management Team were also all of a sudden “very busy” and it was left to the finance team to sort out the problem again.


Now we need to back track a bit! As mentioned previously, to actually put the Festival on required State Government approval. The approved site was not really at NARARA (it just sounded like a good name) but at the back of Old Sydney Town (OST) at Somersbey. Let’s just say OST Management was not all that thrilled about 40,000 people camping next to their “town”. The situation became even hotter when OST Management was told, by a higher authority, that they had to provide secure office space for the NARARA bean counters.

After a lot of fussing we were given a room with an external door, which we wanted, and an internal door to the rest of the OST offices (that we really didn’t want).

In words of one syllable OST Management were told they were not to enter the room at any time. The room was to be guarded, with regular armoured truck pick-ups via the external door only.

Back in 1983 a million dollars was a lot to count (mostly 10’s & 20’s). We also were on duty about 18 hours a day so I had two Reserve Bank employees as helpers who came complete with money counting machines. At first the machines worked fine and counting, checking & auditing the cash was fairly easy. Trouble was, as the festival started and time went on, the cash coming in became more and more beer stained, mud stained and even blood stained! The lovely Reserve Bank counting machines (used to counting clean money), gave up the ghost and we were left flattening, cleaning & counting “dirty” money. It took forever!

Our guards at the office were nice guys and it turned out most were police officers, off duty & armed with a revolver on their hip. Nothing much could go wrong. But of course we were so slowed down having to count “dirty” money we were still counting on the second night when their shift time was up. “No problems” they told us. “We’ll just get one of the site guards to look after you for the rest of the evening. He won’t have his own arms, but we will lend him the shotgun from our car.”

Now, if you’re an OST Manager, chances are not much excitement ever happens in your life. And he probably thought to himself “these Sydney and Melbourne low life’s actually seemed to be very organised. Why do these armoured guard trucks turn up and why have I been told to stay away. After all they are in my office. I think I had better go and have a look-in…”

The guard (now with shotgun) was a BIG guy. He scared me with the gun in his lap but of course that was nothing compared to what happened when a key was inserted into the door connecting the room to the OST offices. Before I could even think the guard jumped up just as the door opened. The shotgun went straight to the OST guy’s throat, who went green and collapsed. My helpers were convinced the guard was going to pull the trigger, but of course, begin a true rock'n'roll accountant, I was mostly concerned that if he did pull the trigger the resulting blood spatter would make counting the money even more difficult!

Some more images here


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