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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
  • Caroline Buchanan competing at the London Olympic Games 2012.
    Caroline Buchanan, 2012
  • An Australian Olympic uniform that consists of pants and a top.
    Caroline Buchanan's uniform, 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
  • 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
  • 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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