31 January 2011

Subversive Bicycle Photos from Queensland

Bicycles piled up outside a picture theatre in Cairns, ca. 1915
Bicycles outside a cinema in Cairns, 1915.

We all know that it's too hot to ride a bicycle in your regular clothes in Queensland. You need all manner of special clothing and a lightweight bicycle to be able to tackle the heat and topography. And an electric assist motor if you can get your hands on one. Everybody knows that. That's why nobody ever rode bicycles in the state until 1975.

This is what we know.

So please do not distribute these photographs. We risk word getting out that bicycles existed prior to 1975 and that they weren't carbon fibre wonderbikes used by packs of men in tight, stretchy clothing on the weekends but rather bicycles for transport. People might get the idea that cycling for regular citizens was 'normal' or some godawful propaganda-like notion.

And don't let the rest of the country see these shots either. They'll call Queensland un-Australian. We're convinced that it was that bastard Julian Assange who leaked these photos. We're issuing a warrant for his arrest. We'll hang him up in a bike bib and make him look like Borat.
Bicycles parked outside Maryborough City Baths
Bicycles parked outside the City Baths in Maryborough.
Bicycles parked on the pavement at Mackay, Queensland, 1948
Bicycles parked in Mackay, 1948.
Bicycles parked outside the Lands and Works Office, 1904
Bicycles parked outside the Lands and Works Office, 1904.

Boys on bikes at Barramornie Station, August 1924
Boys on bikes at Barramornie Station, August 1924

Unidentified father and son posing with a bicycle for a travelling photographer
Unidentified father and son posing with a bicycle for a travelling photographer

Shearer on the move with his bicycle
Shearer on the move with his bicycle, ca. 1906

A modern Australian shearer
A modern Australian shearer, ca. 1900

Photos from The State Library of Queensland, on Flickr.


juffles said...

They're all fake, just like the moon landings.

Kiwehtin said...

HEAR HEAR! Thanks for pulling up these pictures and the ones on the other site reminding us of what people had no trouble with a century or more ago. It's a crying shame how people have been seduced into this cultish belief that cycling is not and should not be normal and that the only way to get around is with motor vehicles.

Gerard said...

Don't you see? They ALL died out because they weren't wearing cycle helmets!

kfg said...

Gerard - I just said that on the other side of the record. :)

brentus said...

You're right,it's hot here in South Australia in summer too, 45C on my way to work yesterday. Luckily I had my shirt, shorts and sandals to wear.
ps it was still 31C riding home at midnight

Gerard said...

@kfg - Just spotted your comment now on the flip side (took me a while). Snap! :-)

Chillikebab said...

Yesterday I rode through Sydney in 32C heat, wearing a suit.
Arrived at my destination perhaps a little warm, but after 5 or 10 minutes I was fine, and fresh and cool enough to appear in a TV interview.
Don't let them tell you it can't be done!

domotion2011 said...

It is fascinating to see the handlebars during this era. The "racing" style turned up looks very trendy down under. Historically in 1915 automobile imports from Europe through the duration of WWI were cut off to Australia so a prevalence of bicycles would be a reasonable assumption.

kfg said...

domotion - Everything old is new again. There's hardly anything done on bicycles that wasn't done first 100 years ago.

It's no accident that the great constructeurs of France did their thing in the decade following WWII. Even most rich people (and while the war broke many, many people it made a few quite well off) couldn't obtain a car, because there simply weren't any to be had.

So they put their money into commissioning the finest bicycles possible.

Garryw said...

By the looks of it, bicycle theft was non-existent in the good old days too - not one of those bikes is locked up!

Another thing I find intriguing looking at the bikes is how very tall the gearing looks: big chainwheels and tiny rear sprockets almost universal; considering the poor roads, one would have thought this would be making life needlessly difficult.

Ah, but maybe they just don't build cyclists now the way they used to...

Glenn Trimble said...

The current generation of Australian middle-aged cyclists grew up at the height of the cult of the automobile, and being ignorant of history, they truly do think they invented bike riding.

If they'd listened to their grandparents instead of writing them off as Menziean, meat-and-3 philistines, they would know better. My own grandfather was a fettler on the railways, and he and his entire gang used to spend the working week in isolated camps, and cycle back to their families (50 miles or more) every weekend. This was in the 30s and 40s, so we are talking about big, heavy, one-speed gents bikes, on unsealed country roads. The grandsons of these fellas think they are serious bike riders because they tootle down to Mordialloc on a Saturday morning on a light-as-air machine that costs 4 months wages, clad head-to-toe in a skintight acrobat's uniform.

Cycling also used to be a serious participation competitive sport on weekends in country towns. My dad and uncles all used to race bikes around a velodrome on Saturday and Sunday mornings, before taking their places in the local rugby league and aussie rules sides in the afternoon. These Beach Road guys are kidding themselves, thinking they are pioneers.

Eneko Astigarraga said...

Check this out:


Same time, different country.

Anonymous said...

@Glenn Trimble. Perhaps you could:

a) stay somewhat on-topic. What does your hatred of a tiny subset in Melbourne have to do with anything?

b) consider why you're so hateful. Those guys help themselves & society by cycling for health & recreation. I don't believe they harm or criticise anyone, least of all previous generations of cyclists.

David said...

Of course when at the right temperature and from the right place it could be done in queensland in a suit.

But the suggestion that hygiene would not often be a major concern after slowly cycling a decent distance to a modern queensland office is denying a real problem rather than looking for the solution in my opinion.