The Bicycle and The Bush – book review

The Bicycle and the Bush by Jim Fitzpatrick –  Fitzpatrick spent years researching this book, which looks at the bicycle’s use in rural Australia from 1890-1920. It is one of the most unusual, innovative explorations ever undertaken into the role of a transport device and its relationship with a society and its environment. This book surveys the machine’s introduction, manufacturing, sales and distribution in Australia, and its broader social impact upon urban society, women, the Australian language, and racing.

While the book focuses mainly on rural Australia, Fitzpatrick puts the bicycle in its global context. This is fundamentally a book about technology and how it shapes, alters and integrates into people’s lives. Sheep shearers, gold miners, fence runners, clergy and others are all profiled, as are some of the famous racers of the day. Conflicts that we still see to this day, things like bike vs. horse use on the trails and debates of what constitutes proper riding position and attire are traced to their early roots.

In The Bicycle and the Bush: Man and Machine in Rural Australia Jim Fitzpatrick has done more than write a great book. He’s basically built a time machine to transport the reader back to an earlier age, and that is something nearly as wonderful as the bicycle itself.

ISBN 0 85905 250 8   Available from Hesperian Press  – $50.00* + post

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My name is Moya Sharp, I live in Kalgoorlie Western Australia and have worked most of my adult life in the history/museum industry. I have been passionate about history for as long as I can remember and in particular the history of my adopted home the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia. Through my website I am committed to providing as many records and photographs free to any one who is interested in the family and local history of the region.

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