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13 April 2017

Freewheeling spins into National Museum of Australia on the final leg of two-year tour

Exhibition includes two of Cadel Evans’ bicycles

Freewheeling: Cycling in Australia is spinning into Canberra on the final stop of the National Museum of Australia’s successful two-year national tour.

For more than 140 years, cycling has shaped Australian life and this significant exhibition takes a unique look at the bicycle and its impact on Australia’s social, economic and political life.

National Museum director, Dr Mathew Trinca, said since Australia embraced the bicycle as a form of transport in the 1880s, our love of the two-wheeler has continued to grow.

‘This exhibition is the culmination of two years on the road around the country and we invite you to reflect on how this simple, affordable machine has shaped our lives, and the possibilities it still offers for the future,’ Dr Trinca said.

‘Ten themes explore different bicycles and styles of riding, and introduce some of the people whose lives have been shaped by cycling, including Canberra’s own para-cycling champion Michael Milton whose carbon fibre “stump bucket” is among the dozens of fascinating objects on display,’ Dr Trinca said.

Six-time Paralympic gold medallist Michael Milton OAM has been a bike rider his entire life and after losing a leg to bone cancer aged nine his dad modified his Raleigh Grifter so his prosthetic leg would stay on the pedal.

‘Cycling offered me fun, freedom and independence. It’s the same today. I have way too many bikes, which I ride for fun, for training, for transport, with my kids. I even ride a bike on stage during presentations,’ Mr Milton said.

‘I’m really excited by the mass resurgence of the bicycle. It’s really happening, especially here in Canberra. I see more and more people riding every day. I’m a bit of a gear freak so I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the Freewheeling exhibition,’ Mr Milton said.

The exhibition includes objects from Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, long distance legend Hubert Opperman, BMX racer Caroline Buchanan, cycling reporter Jim Trail, and para-cycling champions Sue Powell and Michael Milton.

National Museum curator Catriona Donnelly said the exhibition celebrates all types of cyclists whether they ride to work, cycle vast distances across the continent or race professionally in events like the Tour de France or the Olympic Games.

The exhibition looks at the thrilling danger of the early penny farthing, the revolution of the chain-driven ‘safety’ bicycle, the 1980s icon of the BMX and the simple joys of children learning to ride a bike.

Freewheeling: Cycling in Australia is on display at the National Museum of Australia from 13 April to 9 July 2017.

Please contact Diana Streak, (02) 6208 5091, 0422 536 064 or

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