Darrell Hick used his bike, a heavy yellow cruiser with no gears that he bought at a garage sale in the 1970s, on holiday trips to Rottnest Island, off the Western Australian coast near Fremantle.
The bike soon earned the nickname ‘Hernia’, as it made heavy work of the island’s rolling terrain. Hick described still bearing scars from when a quokka, a wallaby species synonymous with the island, got caught under the pedals.
Nowadays an iconic getaway location for generations of Western Australians, from 1838 to 1904 the island was the site of a prison in which Aboriginal men and boys from across Western Australia were incarcerated.
This composition captures the duality of Rottnest Island. It is a beautiful holiday destination that many Western Australians travel to each summer, yet so few people know about its dark past.
The piece is technically complex. It is lively in the beginning, representing Darrell Hick tearing around the island on his bike. At the same time there is an undercurrent of the island’s lesser-known past. The music suggests a foreboding and something that is dangerous and painful.