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Freewheeling: Cycling in Australia


Suburban bandits

Modern BMX (bicycle motocross) has its origins in the 1920s, when speedway motorcycle racing drew huge crowds and children modified their bicycles so that they could better mimic their speedway heroes. BMX bikes became increasingly popular in Australia during the 1980s, when the film BMX Bandits hit the big screen. BMX is still popular as a children’s bicycle, but it is also the defining element of a competitive, professionalised sport, with sprint racing and freestyle competitions.

Exhibition highlights

Freewheeling tracks the evolution of BMX and features the story of champion rider Caroline Buchanan, who represents Australia in BMX and mountain biking.

  • A black and white photograph of a young Noel Brown sitting on a bicycle.
    Noel Brown, 1936
  • A black and white photo of four motor cyclists on a race track.
    Empire Speedway, 1936
  • Caroline Buchanan competing at the London Olympic Games 2012.
    Caroline Buchanan, 2012
  • A bicycle helmet with green and yellow patterns throughout. Printed at the top centre of the helmet is an Australian flag and at the back of the helmet on either side feature two boxing kangaroos.
    Caroline Buchanan's helmet, 2012
  • An Australian Olympic uniform that consists of pants and a top.
    Caroline Buchanan's uniform, 2012
  • A BMX bicycle that is green, black and orange gold in colour. There is text across the Down Tube that reads 'speedco'.
    Caroline Buchanan's BMX bike, 2012
  • Freestyle riding, 2012
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