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Malvern Star bicycle

Malvern Star bicycle

Malvern Star bicycle

A star racer

The Malvern Star company presented this 4 Star 'Sid Patterson' road racer to Ernie Old in about 1956. Old’s family donated the bike to the Canberra Bicycle Museum in 1996 and, after its closure, the bike was given to the National Museum of Australia.

Ernie Old's personal challenge

Ernie Old was a young man when he caught the cycling craze and started competing in races in rural Victoria in about 1900. But he became a celebrity in his 70s when he challenged himself to ride from Melbourne to every state capital a feat he accomplished before his 76th birthday. For the next 10 years he continued to crisscross the continent, making his last marathon ride from Melbourne to Bendigo in 1960, aged 86.

Greeted as a star by cheering crowds, Ernie Old proved that travelling the vast open spaces of Australia by bike was possible and enjoyable at any age.

A black and white photograph of Ernie Old, aged 73, finishing his 4000-kilometre ride to Brisbane and back at the showgrounds, Melbourne, 1947.
Ernie Old, aged 73, at the Melbourne showgrounds in 1947, finishing a 4000-kilometre ride to Brisbane and back. National Archives of Australia: A1200, L38704.

Cycling connections

Supported in his marathon rides by Bruce Small's Malvern Star company, Old joined an elite group who championed cycling in Australia, as a sport, a healthy lifestyle and a sustainable form of transport. He forged friendships with famous cyclists Jack Fahey, Sid Patterson and Sir Hubert 'Oppy' Opperman.


Treasure trove: Ernie Old's bike interview on 666 ABC Canberra

Ernie Old in the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Ernie Old records at the National Archives of Australia