‘What the hell is the Camden Weekender?!’
‘I didn’t even know there was a Vet Revue….’
The author, a current fourth year vet student and active participant in both, reports from the field (literally).
Every year in early Spring, a field behind the University of Sydney’s Camden campus transforms into an animal themed bacchanalia, as 400 or so vet students, friends and staff celebrate the Camden Weekender. Students fall down the rabbithole of the southbound M5 and become insane versions of themselves. One minute everyone is setting up their swags, you blink and then suddenly that quiet girl from your equine anatomy group is dancing on a haybale with her shirt off, screaming along to ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’.
By day, a ring full of teams wearing ram-marking harnesses wrestle in a multi-coloured orgy of chalk and themed costumes. By night, a group of dancers rip off their cow onesies to reveal Miley Cyrus costumes as they reenact Wrecking Ball with calving chains and speculums (singing along to the hook “YOU CAME IN THROUGH MY RREECTAL WALLLLL”). Rumours spread of a student who tattooed “#vetlyf” to her foot in an attempt to win the Wacky Races, a scavenger hunt for students doing the road trip from Sydney to Camden.
Since 1956, the Camden Weekender—formerly known as BBGrog (as in BBQ) —has lured a rampaging herd of goon-fuelled vet students to the rolling hills and clear open air of Camden, where the temporarily displaced fourth year veterinary students live year-round to hone their practical clinical skills.
The weekend begins with day games. Dairy cows look on as their veterinary caretakers race to finish dry weetbix laced with cinnamon in the Iron Gut challenge. Whilst OHS forced day games events like The Camden Cup (a bareback race around the back paddock on the Teen Ranch ponies) and Greasy Pole (a race to the top of ibid) to be swapped for The Scrub Relay and Lube Wrestling, the free-wheeling spirit of the event remains.
These are followed by the crown-jewel of the night—the Veterinary Revue, a one-night-only show performed to an open paddock full of students perched on hay bales. Where other revues specialise in high production values and triple-threat performers, Vet Revue features a cast of 50 odd fourth year veterinary students with varying talents who pull together a show strong in poop jokes and references to lecturers between surgery classes.
The puns are spectacular. The show itself is called Ewerovision, and features a rap gang called The Beastiality Boys. Parodies come in thick and fast, with musical numbers like Upcow Funk (as in Uptown Funk but about manual pregnancy diagnosis in cows) and Faeces are a Vet’s Best Friend.
As the night progresses, it’s obvious that the cast are having as much fun as the beer soaked crowd. The show ends with 7 minutes of strip tease: there’s chair work, there are boys in tear-away pants, there are girls in labcoats and suspenders slinking across the stage to Beyonce’s ‘Partition’. In the context of a revue full of nerdy, sciencey, veterinary in-jokes and surgery puns it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense, but it’s undeniably hot and the crowd love it.
The lights go down, the hay bales are cleared and a day’s worth of drinking and revelry unfettered by lockout laws or logic, comes to a head with an all in dance party. Triple J’s Alex Dyson takes the stage as celebrity guest DJ and in a shockingly accurate assessment of crowd dynamics, plays back-to-back club banger remixes of Disney classics. The cast have joined the crowd and the dancefloor space (an entire paddock) is being used for some spectacular dance moves, combinations of twerking, Elaine Benes’ kicks and thumbs, and drunk Mum dancing are on display. Alex Dyson plays Darude’s Sandstorm and initiates a game of “catch the DJ” across the paddock, and for a few brief seconds the sheer joy of a veterinary cohort unleashed is dazzling.
The next Monday, as Alex Dyson tries to explain the Revue on Breakfast with Matt and Alex, Matt Okine raises a point,
‘Would non-vets get any of this?’
‘Didn’t matter, it was gold—all of it—it was pure solid gold’
At the end of the day, making sense really doesn’t matter. The veterinary faculty as we know it is changing. Over the past years the number of degrees expanded as the faculty slowly phases out the undergraduate degree in veterinary science—and with it a generation of 22-going-on-23-year-olds fully qualified to fist cows and steal puppies’ testicles. Living on through the dying gasps of this youthful splendour is a tradition almost as old as the faculty itself, The Camden Weekender.
Photos by Samuel Haber @samhaber