Holy crap! We may have just uncovered Australia’s first ever shoey

In the 24 hours since I shared my search to trace the origins of the shoey with the world, a lot of budding historians have come out of the woodwork.

One guy told me his old army unit may have spread the shoey to Hobart’s The Brisbane Hotel in the early-2000s. Someone else tweeted at me to say their friend’s older brother “Nug” definitely passed the shoey to punk band Luca Brasi. One of the promoters of Sydney party S.A.S.H. claimed he made 24 different people do a shoey at an event in 2007 or 2008.

Others claimed the shoey actually originated in Canada, or that they were shoey-ing at Future Music Festival ’08, or simply got in touch to let me know they once caught their little brother farting into a bottle and then shotting it, a la the Tension movies.

But one story really stopped me in my tracks. Late last night I got an email from a lady called Angela Szczotko, who sent me a photo of what may be AUSTRALIA’S FIRST EVER RECORDED SHOEY.

Yes, that is a photo of a man doing a shoey out of a wedding slipper in the 1940s. Let’s zoom in even closer:

The name of this humble pioneer is Ray Martin, aka Angela’s dad. I’ll let her explain:

“Dear Katie,

I share your passion for celebrating the shoey and hope you win a Walkley [Ed note: THANKS] for your painstaking search to trace its origins. I hope you allow me the indulgence of shedding some further light on the subject.



You’re right in suspecting the journey to the centre of the shoey goes way back before recent wankers, idiots, Tassie punks and festival goers. Long before boozed up blokes, surfers, racers and skaters claimed it as their own.

The tradition does go back to the British military and airforce and does celebrate good fortune. Attached is a photo of my parents on their wedding day in London in 1946 when my British Royal Airforce father Ray Martin married my Australian mother Pauline Mills after a whirlwind romance… He is drinking champagne from her silver slipper. I love this photo.

‘The Shoey’ – the act, not the name, is ground in our family tradition and evokes a more risque yet less pretentious, less privileged celebration than the boot n booze barrelling bogan craze we see at the moment.”

If you have read the shoey feature, you’ll know that I traced the tradition back to the British military, who – legend has it – started drinking from their shoes after the First World War. Which means that Angela’s ex-British Airforce father may actually have been Australia’s shoey patient zero. 71 years ago in 1946.

Thank you, Angela.

Katie Cunningham is the Editor of inthemix. She is on Twitter.