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From little things

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Old November 13th 05, 03:25 AM
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Default From little things

Article from Aus Cyclist magazine

From little things
One day in May 1975, 20 cyclists set out from Hyde Park, Sydney bound
for Canberra. The cyclists had the appearance of sixties flower
children and Vietnam moratorium demonstrators. It was the Friends of
the Earth protest against uranium mining. At Yass we were to join a
larger group who had set out from Melbourne.

After camping outside Australia's nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights,
myself and the other cyclists freewheeled down the F6 tollway before it
opened to motor traffic - waving at road workers. As we passed Clifton
pubs, overlooking the scenic cliff faces near Wollongong, a supportive
local offered us a beer.

Out from our campsite at Wollongong University the hairpin bends in the
Macquarie Pass rainforest reared up before us. Some purists rode or
walked our bikes to the top. The lovely Naomi cocked a thumb at the
driver of some kind of low loader - he was no doubt surprised to find
out he would be carrying 15 bicycles in return for the pleasure of her

With eight hours' notice, we organised a public meeting at Bowral. One
member of the public rolled in from the pub across the street, listened
for a short time to the assortment of hippies in the hall and left. A
better organised public meeting at Yass attracted a couple of dozen
genuine public.

On the last leg from Yass to Canberra we sat down on the roadway on
Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, attracting national media attention - which
was not very favourable. We assembled on the lawns of the then
Parliament House and Gough Whitlam's Environment Minister, Dr Moss Cass
emerged, surveyed us nervously and urged us to go back to our local
communities to spread our message. Nevertheless, we camped on the lawns
for a few nights before dispersing.

What was so remarkable about our bumbling efforts at advocacy in 1975?
It was the context: 27 years after the first Holden rolled off its
line, Australia's love affair with the car was at its zenith. It was
several years before the launch of the Bicycle Federation of Australia
and the NSW State Bicycle Advisory Committee (the writer was the first
cyclist representative). ‘Big Bike Rides' and the touring calendars of
state bicycle organisations were yet to come. There were few bicycle
couriers and hardly any besuited bicycle activists. Although the
political rides of the mid-70s seem bizarre now (and seemed bizarre at
the time), they would influence much that was to come.

Don Morison



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