Goon: Australia's Most Famous Drink. What Is It?

Updated on December 21, 2019
TimMEy profile image

I am a German tourism student currently located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I enjoy writing about beverages from different countries.

"A 4 Litre Cask of Australian White Wine" by MichaelGG at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
"A 4 Litre Cask of Australian White Wine" by MichaelGG at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

What Is Goon?

Most people in Australia know about it, and many backpackers drink it almost daily. Basically, goon is a general name for cask wine (or boxed wine). There are mixed opinions about goon.

On the one hand, it's a cheap drink that tastes good ice-cold or mixed.

On the other hand, it can be disgusting. On the box of one brand, Golden Oak, it says "Produced with the aid of milk, egg, nut, and fish products and traces may remain. Sugar added." Of course, some optimistic mates say, “Well, at least it's a whole meal.”

The Best and Worst Brands and Flavors

The Best Goon

By "best" I mean that these are the ones that you can drink even pure without mixing them. That is the extent of my recommendation—nothing more, nothing less. Goon is always something special, and, no matter how you drink it, do not expect a firework of flavour.

  • Golden Oak Fruity Lexia

This is probably the most popular brand which you can buy all over Australia.

Additionally you can buy the Golden Oak as dry, medium-dry, or even red—but to be honest, never ever buy a red goon! It was the worst hangover I ever had in Australia. If you want to drink red wine, go for the bottled ones.

However, Golden Oak is one of the “better” goons, which you can drink without mixing—though I recommend drinking it ice-cold, as you should with all goons. This was also my favourite when I was in Australia and I bought it every chance I had. The flavour is sweet and not that strong.

  • Sovereign Point

This is another quite good-tasting goon. For the price-to-alcohol ratio, this is the one to buy. It has 10% more content and is around 2% stronger. It doesn't taste too bad either.

The Worst Goon

Coolabah, Kaiserstuhl, Berri Estates, Sunnyville, and Stanley are goon brands that taste unique but are not that good. Drinking them on ice or with a mixer is recommended.

History of Goon

Goon was invented in 1965 by an Australian bloke called Thomas Angove from South Australia, who was the first person to patent wine packaged in a carton box. He put one gallon, or 4.5 liters, of wine into a box and sold it—and thus, goon was born.

As time went on, the box and the container improved. Nowadays, goon comes in a plastic space bag, which is then placed in the box. One of the reasons that goon is so cheap is because the space bag and carton box are far more economical than glass bottles.

For a more in-depth article on the history of this celebrated drink, read this article written by the Wine Wankers on the occasion of goon's 50th anniversary. They even review several kinds of goon and chose their favorites, which are:

  • White: Yalumba 2014 Chardonnay ($13 for two litres)
  • Red: Debortoli Premium Cabernet Merlot ($16.50 for four litres)

Where Did the Name Goon Come From?

This is a real mystery. No one knows the origin of the name. Wikipedia says it came from the word flagon, and another source says it comes from the aboriginal word for pillow (because of the bag). The truth, however, remains a mystery.

The Space Bag

Space bag is a term that I (and many others) use to refer to the silver bag inside of the cardboard box that goon comes in.

The bags are waterproof, and many goon users have been pretty creative when it comes to using them. The most popular use of packaging is the so-called goon crown when one uses the carton box as a hat.

It is also possible to blow up the space bags and use them as pillows. The most magnificent invention I came across was the goon raft. This was when some of my mates actually built a raft with some sticks and plenty of blown-up space bags. Take a look at it below.

Slap the Goon and Other Games

Slap the Goon is a famous tradition that backpackers and other travellers in Australia learn about quickly. Created by a mate in Byron Bay, it all started with the idea that you literally need to slap the space bag before drinking.

The effects of slapping the goon are still discussed and not scientifically proven, but nevertheless the idea took hold, and now “Slap the Goon” is popular all over Australia.

You can find people wearing "Slap the Goon" shirts all over the country, and you can even buy Slap-the-Goon Goon, which is a goon brand named after the saying.

Other Popular Games

  • Goon of Fortune: A game that involves hanging up bags of wine on a clothesline.
  • Goon Pong: Like beer pong, but with (what else) goon.

Goon and a Space Bag
Goon and a Space Bag

Pros of the Space Bags

  • The space-bag method is more economical for wineries and is more environmentally friendly.
  • Boxed wine is simpler and lighter to carry—making it especially good for travellers.
  • With a price of around $10 for four to five liters, it is basically the cheapest alcohol you can buy in Australia.
  • The space bag allows the wine to last longer after opening because it cannot oxidise in the bag. It will stay fresh for weeks.

Cons of the Space Bags

  • One of the disadvantages of the space bag is that it does not keep the wine untouched for years as an unopened bottle does. It will expire, and you should finish the wine before it does so or you could suffer from serious stomach problems.
  • Critics also argue that goon tends to encourage binge drinking and allows alcoholics a cheap alternative to other drinks. That is why in some areas in Australia, you are not allowed to buy goon until 4 o´clock in the afternoon.
  • Some say the taste of many kinds of goon is one of the biggest problems with it. Other people care more about getting bang for the buck.

Most goons should be mixed.
Most goons should be mixed.

Mixing Goon

As mentioned before, goon is not everybody's cup of tea. Mixing goon is a way to make it taste better. Here are some ideas to help you create your own combinations.

Juices

Goon can be mixed with any kind of juice and it will taste way better. My favorite juice mixers were cranberry, pineapple, and orange juice. Of course, it is up to you which flavour you prefer.

Coke

The combination of goon and Coke is quite popular. For many travellers, this is the way to go. You can also use Sprite, Fanta, or any other soda you like.

Other Ideas

Basically, you can mix goon with anything you want. Remember that goon is wine, so you can even make a bowl or cook with it. Be creative, and let me know if you have a good idea.

© 2011 TimMEy

Comments

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    • profile image

      EdMahn 

      7 weeks ago

      I think lots of people view bulk wine as a social issue. How is buying a 4 or 5 ltr box of Goon any different than buying Cartoons of beers or bottles of spirits?? The Alky factor is 100% the same effect.

      I know of many wine cellars that do ''Brown Wraps'' selling medium to premiums at sub $5 a bottle!! It's all about the depth of your pockets.

      90% of social drinkers on a tight budget are greatful for an opportunity to indulge in plonk without the budget getting strained. I myself have enjoyed the ''Round Australia'' trip cellarbrating with many travellers stories over a Kimberly cold(read Hot) box of Goon.

      Like all things, the El cheapo low taxed Goon will one day get slugged and we'll all remember the ''Good Ol'' days with massive smiles.

      Goon fills a market price point, it allows all walks in life to indulge in a tipple or 2 and experience a rest from the sharp edge of life.

      People who sledge Goon are clearly those who have been involved in serious negative situations with it. But there are millions of things on this planet that can produce a Negative result. A far wiser man than me once said ''A man's (woman)got to know his(her) limitations''

      Booze is very personal. It's also very Legal in Australia. Cheers.

    • profile image

      Michael 

      4 months ago

      There are over 600 indigenous languages in Australia and they are all different to each other so it is extremely unlikely if not impossible the term came from an aboriginal word. Since goon is a well known English word for stupidity and violent or bad behaviour its most likely its come from that. As too much alcohol consumption results in that behaviour or stupidity that root meaning is probably more accurate. That the boxed alcohol is so cheap and the huge amounts in the bladders are available to consume until the unfortunate consumer may imbide until unconsciousness occurs is a clue to the name. People who get so fucking pissed because that quantity of cheap piss is there for the drinking are goons. Destroying their own lives and at times ruining the lives of others because of the rampant uncontrolled behaviour that drinking too much promotes. Yeah, I've been there, been an active alcoholic, but after a few interactions with cask wine knew not to venture there anymore.

    • profile image

      Frank 

      4 months ago

      The empty bags are really handy to take when you go camping, as you can fill them with water from the nearest water source and use them as fire extinguishers!

    • TimMEy profile imageAUTHOR

      TimMEy 

      7 months ago from Buenos Aires, Argentina

      @Chuck awesome and thanks for sharing! I might write a new article about "papsak"/"dooswyn" once I get to South Africa :)

    • profile image

      Chuck 

      12 months ago

      We get boxed wine in South Africa too. The boxes with the silver bag range in size from one to five litres. It's called "papsak" or "dooswyn" and is drunk by people from all walks of life but more commonly by housewives, teenagers, alcoholics and the homeless people.

    • profile image

      Aidey Aitchdee 

      20 months ago

      That puts a new spin on that post wartime comedy radio show with Peter Sellars, Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan etc. THE GOON SHOW

    • TimMEy profile imageAUTHOR

      TimMEy 

      4 years ago from Buenos Aires, Argentina

      @Pogo6: Thats really interesting really didn´t know about the Flagon terminology. Thanks for sharing.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting. I was familiar with boxed wine, but not this particular product.

    • profile image

      Pogo6 

      5 years ago

      The derivation of the word "GOON" is originally a corruption of the word "Flagon" - became "Flagoon" - then contracted to "Goon". A flagon is/was a half gallon (2.25L) glass bottle which was the way cheap bulk wine was sold before the popularity of the wine cask (otherwise known as Chateau de Cardboard). When I was much younger the flagon was the preferred drop for "winos" and students for whom quantity was far more important than quality. Even better was that port and sherry came in flagons - much higher alcohol content for not much more in price. Obviously with the decline of glass and the rise of the plastic bag in the cardboard box, the term has come to be applied to this form.

    • TimMEy profile imageAUTHOR

      TimMEy 

      5 years ago from Buenos Aires, Argentina

      @Aussie Joe: Just changed it, thanks for the feedback ;)

    • TimMEy profile imageAUTHOR

      TimMEy 

      5 years ago from Buenos Aires, Argentina

      @globetrotter: That would be brilliant. Do you have any Aboriginal friends who could confirm?

    • profile image

      Snakesmum 

      5 years ago

      You mean other countries DON'T have GOON? I'm shocked. Personally, I prefer bottled wine though. :-)

    • profile image

      aussie joe 

      6 years ago

      Interesting read, although your use of the word 'mate' is not good. We use it to refer to our friends, it doesn't mean any random person that comes from australia. if you want to use an Aussie word instead, use bloke. "An Australian bloke called Thomas Angove..." makes much more sense.

    • profile image

      globetrotter 

      6 years ago

      Travelling through Australia at the moment. And was told by my guide on fraser island that the word goon actually means pillow in some of the aboriginal languages (hence blowing the bag up as a pillow). Don't know of this really is true. But it's a funfact for your article.

    • profile image

      Rachel Foster 

      6 years ago

      Wow I had to laugh, as reading this takes me back to my travelling days - where goon was my daily tipple & the space bag would often become a pool inflatable or pillow!

    • profile image

      CRED 

      7 years ago

      GOON GOON GOON GOON GOON

    • profile image

      Cred 

      7 years ago

      Had a nice soft fruity last night

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      8 years ago from New York

      Nice hub. Never heard of GOON before and wasn't quite sure till I got to the end of your article that it was wine! Voted interesting.

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StrictlyQuotes 

      9 years ago from Australia

      Ah, you did too, sorry I missed that about the Space Bag! Cool Hub!

    • TimMEy profile imageAUTHOR

      TimMEy 

      9 years ago from Buenos Aires, Argentina

      Thanks for the great Feedback. I remember GOON as my daily fellow and well it is right that GOON is an Aussie thing because in other parts of the world, you can buy carton wine but not in a Space Bag. And btw I mentioned that you can blow up the Space Bag and use it as a pillow in the Space Bag Paragraph. I honestly used many of those... :)

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StrictlyQuotes 

      9 years ago from Australia

      Haha, what a great Hub. As an Aussie, I didn't realise that they didn't have GOON all over the world! Most of our wineries now make carton versions of their best sellers. So easy to keep in the fridge and have wine on tap, very convenient! Also, did you know, the inside packaging can also be blown up like a balloon, to make a pillow! Haha!

    • Sarah Masson profile image

      Sarah 

      9 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Ohhh the good old Goon haha :)

    • LeisureLife profile image

      LeisureLife 

      9 years ago from USA

      I could go for one of those right now...Nice Hub!

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