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History

Freewheeling: Cycling in Australia

History

Australia's first bikes

The first bicycles arrived in the colonies in the 1860s and Australians were quick to embrace this new technology. By the late 1890s, the 'safety' bicycle offered people a cheaper and more comfortable ride and the cycling craze had taken hold. Riding schools and touring clubs formed and cycle racing became a big business.

Exhibition highlights

Freewheeling tracks the arrival of velocipedes, penny-farthings and the revolutionary safety bicycle. It also features the story of Harry Clarke's passion for his vintage penny-farthing, 'Black Bess'.

  • An illustration of a velocipede race at Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1869.
    'Velocipede race', 1869
  • A group of men pose with penny-farthing bicycles.
    Melbourne Bicycle Club, 1878
  • Harry Clarke riding his penny-farthing.
    Harry Clarke, 1984
  • Studio image of a penny-farthing bicycle.
    Harry Clarke's penny-farthing, 1884
  • A black and white photo of a group of men and women standing with their bicycles.
    Safety bikes, about 1900
  • A black and white photograph of a man with a bicycle.  Handwritten text at the bottom of the photo reads: 'A shearer, moving camp.'
    Safety bike, 1900

 

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