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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Australia’s Bicycle Riding Shearers of the Early Twentieth Century

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After photographing the well presented shearer’s bicycle at Pushies Galore, I had to find out more about these men who rode bicycles thousands of kilometres across Australia’s harsh and unforgiving – unpaved interior, only to find more back breaking work when they arrived at the sheds of Australia’s vast sheep stations. Then there were the  games these pedaling shearers played, Thumbs Up and Birds Fly……

Australian shearer’s bicycles which came into use in the late 1890′s were more than a form of efficient transportation. When it caned hard with rain and the sheep were too wet to shear, work-horse bicycles became racing bikes, on other days races for shearers were organised events at local race tracks. The rim of one dispirited shearer’s bicycle became a place for him to scratch his epitaph. Traversing vast distances on dusty outback tracks over thousands of kilometres, sometimes across more than one state was the norm for many shearers. For others the bicycle was the means to get to the shearing shed nearest home and back each day.


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