Photo: Tanya Lake
Last Friday's column featured a poem, published in 1865, about the Queanbeyan River. Queanbeyan balladeer John Walker saw it and loved it and wrote ''Oddly enough, I wrote the following little ode to the river on a long flight to Europe a couple of weeks ago.'' Here is an edited version of Walker's ballad. Do not read further if the macabre offends.
Great Grandad's Feat
Great granddad was my hero - the whole town knew his name.
His legendary sporting feats the cause of all this fame.
At tennis, he was brilliant - won at Wimbledon and Kooyong,
Or so great grandma used to say - and she was never wrong!
But of all the stories she would tell that REALLY impressed me,
The greatest was the time he swam from here to Albury.
Great grandma said he did it in a bit over two days,
And this was years before today's long distance swimming craze!
You'd have to wonder whether he'd have won Olympic gold,
If they'd had a distance swimming race back in those days of old.
So when the Queanbeyan Council opened up their Hall of Fame,
The family made it known that we were keen to add his name.
We had to search the archives for some mention of the swim
Before they would consider our request to honour him.
(With reliable grandma long dead archival research of newspapers was done instead and revealed a shocking fact.)
It seems great grandma might have been creative with the truth,
'Cause great granddad couldn't even swim, back then in his youth.
The Queanbeyan Age report that finally revealed great granddad's fate
Was about the Queanbeyan River Floods in 1958.
Two years after he had died, God rest him, RIP,
The floods had come and washed away the Queanbeyan cemetery.
Great granddad had indeed arrived on far-off Albury's beach,
Just over two days later, as great grandma used to teach.
It now explains the Mona Lisa smile she always had
When telling me this story, when I was just a lad.