Wonderful Photos of Early Australian Bike Culture

The archive of the State Library of New South Wales has curated these marvellous pictures of Australians enjoying the freedom of bicycles. Unlike in New York, women wear shorts and – gulp! – trousers. Children are having fun – no monkey-faced fat kids, no dire warnings of looming death, no accidents and no weirdness. These pictures are the best adverts for riding a bike.

 

Man on a penny-farthing bicycle being chased by his sister (Maggie & Bob Spiers) - West Wyalong, NSW, C. 1900

Man on a penny-farthing bicycle being chased by his sister (Maggie & Bob Spiers) – West Wyalong, NSW, C. 1900

 

Billie Samuels leaving to ride to Melbourne on a Malvern Star bicycle, 4 July 1934, by Sam Hood "Miss Billie Samuels started on her attack on the women's record iiom Sydney to Melbourne, held by Miss Valsa Barbour, at 10 o'clock yesterday morning. She will ride to a schedule which will bring her to the Melbourne G.P.O. at 2 p.m. on Saturday, in total time of 3 days 7 hours.

Billie Samuels leaving to ride to Melbourne on a Malvern Star bicycle, 4 July 1934, by Sam Hood
“Miss Billie Samuels started on her attack on the women’s record from Sydney to Melbourne, held by Miss Valsa Barbour, at 10 o’clock yesterday morning. She will ride to a schedule which will bring her to the Melbourne G.P.O. at 2 p.m. on Saturday, in total time of 3 days 7 hours.

Malvern Star Bicycle Competition, Stanmore Theatre (taken for Acme Theatres), 4 May 1946, by Sam Hood

Joyce Barry (March 1919 – 23 November 1999) was an Australian cyclist who held numerous records for long-distance cycling, most notably the women’s seven-day record.

Annie Dawson Wallace with her bicycle. NB/ Annie is wearing trousers – Sydney, NSW 1899

Interior of Withrow’s Gym showing working out on bicycle and rowing machines

Waratah Rovers Bicycle Club (WRBC). Opening run of the season – Petersham, Sydney, NSW

Palace Emporium Bicycle Club. Century riders – Sydney area, NSW July 1899

Bicycle Club in front of hotel – Hay, NSW c 1899

Scone Bicycle Club Road Race – Scone, NSW 1906 Hal Jackson

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Waratah Rovers Bicycle Club (WRBC) on tour. Sydney - Campbelltown - Appin - Bulli - South Coast. Photo taken at Picton - Picton, NSW, October 1900

Waratah Rovers Bicycle Club (WRBC) on tour. Sydney – Campbelltown – Appin – Bulli – South Coast. Photo taken at Picton – Picton, NSW, October 1900

 

Man and woman on a Malvern Star abreast tandem bicycle, c. 1930s, by Sam Hood

Man and woman on a Malvern Star abreast tandem bicycle, c. 1930s, by Sam Hood

 

Alfred Lee and penny farthing, Glen Street, North Sydney, undated / photographer unknown

Alfred Lee and penny farthing, Glen Street, North Sydney, undated / photographer unknown

 

Jenolan Caves, April 1903, photographed by Edward J. Cooke

Jenolan Caves, April 1903, photographed by Edward J. Cooke

 

Brownie (Muriel Long) with bicycle decorated for street procession - Deniliquin, NSW, n.d.

Brownie (Muriel Long) with bicycle decorated for street procession – Deniliquin, NSW, n.d.

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Palace Emporium Bicycle Club. Century riders - Sydney area, NSW, July 1899

Palace Emporium Bicycle Club. Century riders – Sydney area, NSW, July 1899

 

Joyce Barry advertising for Milk Board, September 1939 Cyclist Joyce Barry was celebrated throughout the 1930s for her many record-breaking time and distances rides.

Joyce Barry advertising for Milk Board, September 1939
Cyclist Joyce Barry was celebrated throughout the 1930s for her many record-breaking time and distances rides.

 

Hubert Opperman eating an ice cream next to a Peter's Ice Cream Reo truck,1936, by Sam Hood

Hubert Opperman eating an ice cream next to a Peter’s Ice Cream Reo truck,1936, by Sam Hood

 

Oppy (Hubert Opperman) and woman, possibly Edna Sayers, on tandem bicycle, by Sam Hood

Oppy (Hubert Opperman) and woman, possibly Edna Sayers, on tandem bicycle, by Sam Hood

 

Four cyclists on speed bicycles on rollers time trials to promote Malvern Star: from left, Lennie Rogers, Bill Moritz, .. ?, .. ?], by Sam hood

Four cyclists on speed bicycles on rollers time trials to promote Malvern Star: from left, Lennie Rogers, Bill Moritz,  by Sam Hood

 

Boys of Hoyts Clovelly Theatre "Spider's Web" Club ride their bikes while "Spiderman" looks on

Boys of Hoyts Clovelly Theatre “Spider’s Web” Club ride their bikes while “Spiderman” looks on

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Jim and Nancy Davenport, Albury, NSW, 11 December 1938, by by - J E N Davenport

Jim and Nancy Davenport, Albury, NSW, 11 December 1938, by by – J E N Davenport

Joyce Barry advertising for Milk Board, September 1939
Cyclist Joyce Barry was celebrated throughout the 1930s for her many record-breaking time and distances rides.

Many of these photos courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales