If the Yarra were made of jelly, it would be easier for rowers to keep to their lanes; they’d be able to use the same tracks over and over again. If they lost balance and fell out of their kayaks, the river’s skin would cradle them, gently bouncing them upright again like fallen tightrope walkers in a safety net.
We could roll out a large rubber-backed picnic blanket from bank to bank and watch the stars together, gently bobbing and swaying on a big, open-air waterbed. In the school holidays, it could be converted to a trampoline, and we could attempt new world record for simultaneous bouncing. In the lead-up to major international sporting events, our gymnasts could train there, eagerly observed from the banks and bridges by breathless supporters who’d sprinkle our young athletes with encouragement and applause.
Ducks would have to waddle across the surface instead of paddling; non-Melbourne ducks would be instantly recognisable as the ones who’d get stuck in the jelly after attempting showy ‘now-I’m-flying, now-I’m-swimming’ landings. Deep beneath jelly layers, the dark river would still flow. Yarra fish would swim free, protected from swooping beaks and worms on hooks.
Though a jellied-Yarra wouldn’t always be so slick and shiny – its sticky surface would attract all manner of things. Stray tickertape from parades down Swanston walk. Discarded Met tickets. Vouchers from The Australian Diamond Company. Bored and curious people, throwing things of varying size and weight off Queens Bridge, would punch a series of tube-shaped holes in its surface. Its face would get more and more pockmarked till the summer heat would force it to melt, oozing and relaxing back into itself, sending random collections of tickertape and Met cards back a layer to mark their time in the Yarra’s sediment-jelly layers.
If the Yarra were made of jelly, people could cut little squares out of it and keep them in them in jars to take home as a memory. Rows of small, quivering green-brown squares of murk in labelled and dated jars on trestle tables; tiny pieces of Melbourne for sale at the Arts Centre Sunday markets.
Having the only jelly river in the world would eventually take its toll. Soon enough, they’d draw up plans for the world’s only jelly-foundationed, multi-level live-shop-work complex. The only way future generations would be able to tell that the Yarra was once made of jelly would be by reading a little brass plaque on Princess Bridge inscribed with a date and a brief note, or by visiting a historic display at the museum. The pride of the display (donated from a private collection) would sit in a glass display box, bathed in soft light - a glowing cube of green brown jelly, with a Met ticket and an ATM receipt suspended within it.