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Darrell Hick's Swansea bicycle

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.

Hidden Past

A yellow Swansea bicycle used by Darrell Hick on Rottnest Island and how it inspired the Grigoryan Brothers composition. Courtesy ABC Classic
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Presenters: Slava and Leonard Grigoryan with Margo Neale and Alice Keath

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.

A yellow bicycle with a wooden crate on the front and a small detachable a yellow sticker on the back of the bicycle reads

Darrell Hick's Swansea bicycle

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.

Rottnest recreation

This yellow Swansea bicycle belonged to Darrell Hick, who used it on holiday trips to Rottnest, a popular island getaway off the Western Australian coast near Fremantle.

Darrell bought the bike, a heavy yellow cruiser with no gears, at a garage sale in the 1970s. It soon earned the nickname ‘Hernia’, as it made heavy work of the island’s rolling terrain. He described bearing scars from a quokka, a wallaby species synonymous with the island, getting caught under the pedals.

Devoted to recreational use from the 1900s, Rottnest has become an iconic location for generations of Western Australians. But from 1838 to 1904 the island was the site of a prison in which Aboriginal men and boys from across Western Australia were incarcerated. Unbeknown to many holidaymakers, the popular camping area of Tentland (now closed) was sited on a burial ground for those who perished in the brutal, overcrowded and disease-ridden facility.

Darrell Hick’s Swansea bicycle up close 03:16

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