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Women on wheels

Freewheeling: Cycling in Australia

Women on wheels

Breaking barriers

Women have been captivated by cycling since bicycles arrived in Australia. The bike was a catalyst for emancipation as women enjoyed new independence and freedom. Today, Australian women continue to take up cycling in increasing numbers, although professionals receive a disproportionately small share of funding.

Exhibition highlights

Freewheeling features the stories of female riders including Marion Sutherland, who ran errands and rode for pleasure on a bike designed by her husband in the early 1900s, and Olympic sprint champion Anna Meares.

  • A ladies' bicycle.
    Marion Sutherland's bicycle, 1910
  • A black and white photo of Billie Samuels with her bike and surrounded by a crowd of people.
    Billie Samuels, 1934
  • A black and white photo of Reima Miezitis with her bicycle.
    Reima Miezitis, about 1953
  • Anna Meares competing in the 500-metre time trial final at the World Track Championship in Poland, 2009.
    Anna Meares, 2009
  • Kate Leeming on a bicycle.
    Kate Leeming, 2004
  • Ladies refurbished 'Roadmaster' bicycle. The frame is handpainted in turquoise and navy blue enamel paint, and the mudguards are white. It has a brown leather seat and a silver rack attached to the rear end. Both of the wheels are from a Malvern Star. The rear wheel has lengths of red, white and blue fine cord attached through the mudguard and gathering just above the centre of the wheel; on both sides of the rear wheel. Small reflector on rear wheel guard. Large black bell on right side of the handlebar.
    Reima Miezitis' bike, 1945
  • Kathy Watt competing in the Individual Road Race event at the Barcelona Olympic Games, Spain, 1992.
    Kathy Watt, 1992
  • Gaye Bourke riding a bicycle.
    Gaye Bourke, 2013
  • A green and yellow speedsuit with a zip half way down the front. On the front, top, right side of the speedsuit are five yellow stars and on the front, top, left side is a Australian coat of arms with the text 'AUSTRALIAN PARALYMIC TEAM / LONDON 2012' beneath it. Down the left leg of the speedsuit is the text 'AUSTRALIA' which is yellow in colour.
    Sue Powell's skinsuit, 2012
  • Carbon fibre leg brace with velcro straps and a shoe worn by Australian Paralympic cycling champion, Sue Powell.
    Sue Powell's leg brace, 2009
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