Backblock Ballads and Other Verses
A spieler came to Yarra Glen upon the Yarra flats;
He wore a suit of noisy cheeks and something cute in hats.
         He was a wicked man, they say,
         Such as they grow down Melbourne way.
         A spieler gay,
         From Melbourne way,
Who sought for Yarra flats.

He taught them an amusing trick with three elusive cards;
But with suspicion such vain things the Yarra flat regards.
         And then, with fingers mighty quick,
         He tried them with the thimble trick.
         A nimble trick,
         The thimble trick,
As tricky as the cards.

But still the stolid natives stood, and let him have his say,
But always changed the subject when he wanted them to play.
         They were not parting with their "dough."
         "But now," said they, "give us a show.
         We'll do a trick,
         The river trick,
The only trick we know.

"We'll bet you fifty pounds," they said, "that we produce a man
Who'll throw you clean across the river Yarra -- and he can --
         Right where the stream is swift and wide
         And land you on the other side."
         "I call your bluff!
         Put up the stuff!"
The spieler chap replied.

They led him to the river bank -- the day was bleak and cold --
And on his collar and his pants their strong man took a hold.
         He swung him once, he swung him twice --
         (The strong man's grip was like a vice) --
         Then, with a flop,
         He let him drop -
The stream was cold as ice.

The spieler scrambled to the bank.  "I've won!" he cried.  "I've won!"
"Get out!" the simple natives jeered.  "Our strong man hasn't done.
         He's only tried it once, you fool!
         He's going to try again.  Keep cool."
         "I've done my dash;
         You take the cash,"
The spieler said: "I'm full."

The spieler went from Yarra Glen; his clothes were dripping wet.
"These are," he murmured brokenly, "the fliest flats I've met."
         And, as the natives saw him off,
         They cheered him on with shout and scoff;
         "We're all strong men
         In Yarra Glen,
But Yarra flats are off!"

The Bulletin, 25 April 1912, p13

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-06