Smoke billowed into the air
The engineer had the boiler hissing
Ready for the day's trip
Echuca to Mildura
The last of the load
Was tied down and stowed
Dock hands released the lines
Setting her free

Loud hoot of the whistle
"See ya later Thommo"
The captain roared and
Headed out into the river
The captain at the wheel
The engineer turning valves
His mate stoking the boiler
As they have for five or so years

The captain - a gruff fellow
Barking out the orders
23 years plying his trade
Up and down the Murray
A Mississippi riverboat captain
Been in Australia since '65
The Mississippi Belle was big
The fastest on the river

The engineer was Bluey
He had jumped ship in Melbourne
Worked for Cobb and Co
Until he met Ned kelly
That was enough he often said
He quit right there and then
Been on the river ever since
Twenty bloody years

His mate Curly was young and wild
Boasted of girls in every port
He had three in Swan Hill
The Mayor's daughter in Wodonga
Had a fight in every pub
From Echuca to Mildura
Those farm boys were tough
But Curly was even tougher

Three men booked passage
Men of hard wirey bodies
Curses flowed freely
Shearers off to Swan Hill
Cigarette hanging from his lip
Stewie was the oldest
He shared a laugh and a beer
They talked about Bolden's run
Their backs were breaking
The tarboy exhausted
Bolden whingeing about his sheep
The cuts they had left
Shut up you old bastard
Do'em ya bloody self
It's gunna rain next week
You'll want them done by then

Ten shearers to do ten thousand sheep
They said it couldn't be done
Bloody oath we clipped 'em
With a bloomin' day to spare
Bolden wasn't a bad old bastard
Next day we had a party
A sheep over the fire
All the beer we could drink

Hey Mick you caught something
Chas dived and caught the rod
It was going over the back
Mick's caught a whale he yelled
Give me that bloody thing
A bloody whale indeed
By crikey he might be right
Mick thought as he jerked the rod

Mick spent half an hour
Fighting and swearing
He heaved left and right
She surely is a whale
Finally he landed the monster
A 35 pound Murray Cod
Hand me a bloody beer
I gotta get me strength back

That evening they toasted Mick
And washed down the cod
Mick are you gunna get another tomorrow
Not bloody likely he laughed
By the time Swan Hill
Appeared around a bend
The cod was 80 pounds
Mick had caught it with his hands

​The Belle