Headless chook. That’s one way to describe Heinrich de Villiers’s February 10 and 11 this year, when he traversed the hell out of Melbourne on a very serious mission.

The Melbourne-based South African native set out to break the individual Guinness World Record for the most pubs visited in 24 hours, taking his younger brother Ruald de Villiers and mate Wessel Burger along for the ride (and moral support).

“I first applied … in November 2021, a time when Melbourne was just getting out of lockdown,” the now 23-year-old Heinrich tells Broadsheet. “I applied to attempt the record as a challenge – one that I thought we could actually break.

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“We all enjoy hitting the pub/bar on the weekend and since the bar scene was heavily affected during lockdown, I decided to dedicate our attempt to every bar/pub located in Melbourne.”

Decked out in head-to-toe watermelon-covered garb (shorts, shirts and bucket hats), the trio hit the road at 5pm on the 10th, bouncing around inner-city Melbourne’s watering holes until midnight – then continuing from 12pm to 5pm the next day.

They did it. Heinrich claimed the record by making it to a ridiculous 78 licensed public houses (“establishments licenced to sell alcoholic beverages on the premises”, he specifies) in 24 hours – from Cherry Bar and Heartbreaker in the CBD, to Arbory Afloat and Petanque Social on the Yarra, and Lucky Coq on Chapel Street, to name a few.

And as for their level of inebriation? “It is important to note that, as per the Guinness World Record rules, we only had to consume 125 millilitres of any drink at each place we visited,” says Heinrich.

We took five with the guys to hear a bit more about the (two-part) pub crawl to end all pub crawls.

Tell us a bit about the preparation.
We did our research on bars in Melbourne and planned out a route beforehand, along with making sure we had everything we needed in order to get our evidence during the attempt – i.e. GPS tracking.

Which was the most memorable pub and why?
The Luwow’s tiki decor was definitely one to remember. But for us, the most memorable place we went to was State of Grace. It was the last place we visited and where we celebrated that we had just finished our Guinness World Record attempt.

One of the first places we went to chased us away, swearing at us and telling us to get out of their bar. Not because of our behaviour, but because they probably thought we wanted free drinks or something. Maybe it was because of our outfits.

You love hidden bars. Which was the best one you found?
We really enjoyed Pizza Pizza Pizza, but our favourite had to be State of Grace with its secret downstairs bar behind a bookshelf that can only be opened by pulling on one of the books.

What was the hardest part of the attempt?
Definitely the unpredictability. You can plan as much as you want, but you can never know exactly what will happen. You don’t know which places will unexpectedly be busy or closed and where you will have to wait for longer than you thought you would’ve. This is ultimately why we had to stop at 78 … because we simply ran out of time.

What are three words to describe how you felt by the end of it?
Very bloody tired.

What’s your favourite pub in Melbourne?
Even though we didn’t manage to work it into our route for the attempt, our favourite pub has to be The Birmingham Hotel with its 50-cent buffalo wings.