We ride bicycles to school, work and to visit friends; we pedal them across the continent and race them around the world. Here are the bikes on show in Freewheeling.
Harry Clarke's penny-farthing, 1884
English-made Cogent penny-farthing bicycle belonging to Harry Clarke, 1884. Clarke bought this vintage bike at an antiques auction and rode it throughout the 1980s and 1990s. National Museum of Australia. Photo: George Serras.
Marion Sutherland's bicycle, 1910
Sutherland ladies’ bicycle, about 1910. National Museum of Australia. Photo: Katie Shanahan.
Marion and Arthur Sutherland manufactured and sold quality bicycles at their shop opposite the Toorak railway station in Melbourne. This step-through ladies’ frame bike owned by Marion was one of Arthur’s designs. It could be ridden comfortably in a long skirt, or the more daring attire of knickerbockers or a divided skirt. Marion used her bicycle to deliver the shop takings to the bank, run errands and for leisure. Bicycles were often stolen and so her machine features a front-wheel steering lock that, when engaged, prevents the handlebars from turning, making it unrideable until unlocked with a key.
Andrew Gibson's tricycle, 1933
Andrew Gibson’s tricycle, about 1933. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the Gibson family in memory of Andrew and Susan Gibson. National Museum of Australia. Photo: Jason McCarthy.
Reima Miezitis' bike, 1945
Modified Roadmaster bicycle belonging to Reima Miezitis, about 1945. Miezitis and her brother restored the bike, which Reima later rode to technical college and on weekend tours. National Museum of Australia. Photo: Jason McCarthy.
Marjorie Bragg's bike, 1950
Field’s children’s bicycle belonging to Marjorie Bragg, 1950. National Museum of Australia. Photo: George Serras.
Marjorie Bragg (born Kinnear) was given this bicycle as a Christmas present in 1951. It was too big for her, so her father attached wooden blocks to the pedals so she could reach them. Whatever the weather, Bragg rode the one kilometre to school from the family cane farm at Elaroo, near Mackay, Queensland. After rain, she had to dig out thick clay that stopped the wheels from turning. In the late 1970s, Bragg repaired the bicycle so her daughter could also ride it to primary school.
Cadel Evans' mountain bike, 1998
Cannondale CAAD 4 hardtail mountain bike ridden by Cadel Evans during the 1998 and 1999 Mountain Bike World Cup events, 1998. Evans rode this bike to victories in the cross-country category. Afterwards, the frame was custom-painted to reflect Evans’s overall win (blue) and his victory in the under-23 age category (red). National Museum of Australia. Photo: George Serras.
Soon after the mountain bike arrived in Australia, enthusiasts started developing competitions to test who could ride the fastest over off-road terrain. The first Australian Mountain Bike Championships were held in Sofala, New South Wales, in 1984. More than 50 riders contested an 80-kilometre course of sealed roads, gravel fire trails and river crossings Today, mountain bike events across the country attract thousands of riders of all abilities. Among the most popular are endurance races held over 24 hours.
Peter Heal's recumbent bike, 2004
Velokraft VK2 carbon fibre recumbent bike belonging to Peter Heal, 2004. Heal rode this bike on his record-breaking solo and unsupported crossing of Australia in 2009. National Museum of Australia. Photo: Jason McCarthy.
Cadel Evans' road bike, 2008
Ridley Helium road bicycle belonging to Cadel Evans and ridden in the Tour de France, 2008. Evans wore the general classification leader’s yellow jersey for five stages during the race and finished second overall. National Museum of Australia. Photo: George Serras.