Mulga Bill’s Bicycle
As long as I can remember, I’ve loved Banjo Paterson’s poem, Mulga Bills Bicycle. When my children were young they had the Mulga Bill’s Bicycle children’s book with its amazing drawings. All three loved the book, with it often being the bedtime story of choice. I really couldn’t say how many times I’ve read that book, but I do know that it’s many many times. I still love to look at it, and will never tire of reading the poem.
Mulga Bill’s Walking Track
When I saw that there was a Mulga Bill Walking Track, at Eaglehawk, I had to get myself there and check it out. In the poem, Mulga Bill is from Eaglehawk, which is a suburb of Bendigo and only about 25km from where I live, so it was just a short car drive away. Due to Covid restrictions this was to be my first walk that was more than 5k from home, so I was more than a little excited.
The Mulga Bill Trail starts at the playground which is a Mulga Bill themed playspace that really did make me smile. When seen from above, the playground is shaped like an eagle. (see photo below) According to the landscape architect of the play space, “the space explores story telling through landscape architecture”. Lines from the poem, along with the iconic comical illustrations from The Mulga Bill’s Bicycle children’s book are used throughout the play space. There were so many fun things to look at that I could have filled the blog with just photos from this space. It really did make me wish that my grandchildren were close by to take for a fun time out.
The trail is only about 4 kilometres and connects the starting point at The Mulga Bill Playground, Lake Neangar with The Whipstick, which is a section of the Bendigo National Park, and includes the Lightning Hill Lookout. At the end of the Mulga Bill Track, I added walks around nearby Lake Neangar and Lake Tom Thumb.
I really enjoyed this walk and can see myself travelling to Eaglehawk regularly, for The Mulga Bill Trail.
Below is the poem, Mulga Bill’s Bicyle by A.B. (Banjo) Paterson, which was first published in The Sydney Mail on 25 July 1896, with comical photos. Link to the newspaper article is at the bottom of the poem, for anyone interested to take a look.
T’was 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’m not the 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 wildcat 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 are tight:
I’ll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at 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 steak,
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 wallaroos 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.”
This post is linked to Denyse’s Life This Week
See more about The Mulga Bill playspace at outdoordesign.com.au
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