Mulga Bill’s Bicycle

‘Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk that caught the cycling craze
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride
The grinning shop assistant said, “Excuse me, can you ride?”

“See here young man,” said Mulga Bill, “from Walgett to the sea
From Conroy’s Gap to Castlereagh, there’s none can ride like me
I’m good all round at everything, as everybody knows
Although I am not one to talk – I hate a man that blows
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest sole delight
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wild cat can it fight
There’s nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel
There’s nothing walks or jumps or runs on axle, hoof or wheel
But what I’ll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps and tight
I’ll ride this here two wheeled concern right straight away on sight

‘Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk that sought his own abode
That perched above Dead Man’s Creek, beside the mountain road
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray
But ere he’d gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away
It left the track and through the trees just like a silver streak
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man’s Creek

It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white box
The very walleroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man’s Creek

‘Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore
He said, “I’ve had some narrer shaves and lively rides before
I’ve rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five pound bet
But this was the most awful ride that I’ve encountered yet
I’ll give that two wheeled outlaw best, it’s shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve
It’s safe at rest in Dead Man’s Creek, we’ll leave it lying still
A horse’s back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill.”

A.B. Paterson 1896