The Ballad of the Blowfly

In 1997 Bill Hay, Liz Ward and myself toured western Queensland on our way to the inaugural Drovers Yesteryear Festival in Camooweal. While performing our show at Cloncurry we met a bloke and his Pommy girlfriend who later joined us in Camooweal. After returning home from the festival I recalled the incident and thought of putting the tale into verse.
ballad of the blowfly





We’d met them in Cloncurry town while touring Queensland’s west,
enthralling them with verse and yarns we Aussies all love best.
The bloke he was from New South Wales, but had been overseas
and bought on back a Pommy lass he loved to hug and squeeze.

We told them we were joining mates in good old Camooweal.
there was a drover’s festival. They said, “That sounds ideal.”
Our destination’s Darwin, though could stay a day or two.
“Might see you there tomorrow then,” and bid us all “hooroo.”

The pub became the social hub in Camooweal next day,
old drovers, townsfolk, poets too had gathered to the fray.
All sharing tales that stretched the truth and never seemed to end,
when who should walk in through the door … our mate and Pommy friend.

They sat in awe and listened to the tales we had to tell,
when suddenly our mate he rose, he’d got the bug as well.
“You see that blowie upside down and in my girlfriend’s beer;
he’s carked it as you all can see. But has it? Gather near.”

“Because we’re mates I’ll wage no bet, though this is what I’ll do.
I’ll bring that blowie back to life and make him good as new.”
He had us rather spellbound with his claim to raise the dead,
when packhorse drover Simpson raised his voice and simply said.

“I’ve been around the bush a bit and heard some dodgy claims,
but resurrecting blowies mate; you’re playing silly games.
I’ll walk to Bourke and backwards lad if you can raise that fly.
Still, do your best, I’ll drink my rum. You give it your best try.”

Then old Ab Tees threw in a jibe, as he had doubts as well,
“I’ll eat me old Akubra mate ’cause that fly’s gone to hell.”
He shrugged his shoulders at their taunts and didn’t even jar,
just raised that blowie from the glass and laid it on the bar.

“There any salt around?” he asked. The barman went to look,
returned and handed him the salt he’d cadged from off the cook.
He poured some salt upon the bar then sat the fly on top,
continued pouring more salt on then fin’lly made a stop.

With puzzled looks the motley crew all watched the salty mound,
the silence was remarkable for no one made a sound.
Til finally Bill Hay spoke up and said, “What happens now?”
Liz Ward just sat and looked in awe, long wrinkles on her brow.

Our mate then sat back on his stool and said in his cool way,
“In ’round six minutes you will see that blowfly fly away.”
Some Doubting Thomases drank on, the baffled watched in awe,
the barman he just poured the drinks and hoped we’d drink some more.

Then suddenly the salt mound moved, as two black legs broke through,
two wings, a head and then the rest walked out as though on cue.
It walked around in circles till he gave the bar two thumps,
which sent the blowie airborne and our mate had come up trumps.

Old Ab Tees tried to sneak away for he had seen enough,
when I yelled, “Here Ab take some salt your hat looks mighty tough!”
Bruce Simpson he just shook his head and looked at that there bloke,
then asked, “How far is flam’in Bourke?” Then rolled another smoke.

Our mate he took his Pommy friend and staggered off to bed.
I guess he thought he was one up, so quit while still ahead.
We had a lot of fun that ‘arve, the weekend too was swell,
bush verse and country music reigned along with yarns as well.

This year we did it all again but never saw our mate
and wondered … was he still around and raised a fly of late?
We never did forget that bloke and joke about it still;
old Abb and Simmo, Liz and I along with our mate Bill.


From the book Laughter & Tears from the Bus

2 replies on “The Ballad of the Blowfly”

As always Merv

A delightful tale, you bring the story to life with your wonderful use of local dialect and vivid characterizations of the people you have known and encountered. Fun and engaging, I enjoyed this poem. Thanks for sharing it.

My best

Liked by 1 person

G’day Wendy. It was quite a tour out to Camooweal and back and enjoyed catching up with many of the old time Drovers. Meeting our mate and his girlfriend was rather engaging especially when he brought the old fly back to life. Thanks for sharing.


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