Cycling in the West

In the early goldfields days, cyclists would travel between mines and mining towns in Western Australia to deliver letters and other items for a fee. In the summer heat with little water, it was a dangerous way to make a living.

Illustration created for a story to be published by myself soon: “Colourful Tales of the Western Australian Goldfields”

Below is a poem published in “Cycling News” 1899:

The specials ride for a bob a mile

And they earn it every bean

They cover the shadeless plains in style

That would may you East men green

For if ever a man deserved his pay

It’s the cyclist who can pass

A hundred miles in a ten-hour day

On a cover stuffed with grass …

There’s none of your billiard-table tracks

To the soaks, where the specials train.

There’s the glint of the dread ‘three-cornered jacks’

And the thick red dusty plain.

There’s the ‘double-jees’ on the iron-stone rise.

There’s the stump and the hidden hole

Where the shriek of the puncture signifies

The song of the cyclist’s soul.

They carry their lives in their midget kits,

Who pace on the golden trails,

And they grovel down in their hand-scraped pits

When the willy-willy wails.

With the midget lost and the tyre cut through

And the waterbag run dry,

The special turns to the East he knew

And spreads the sand to die.

Leave a Reply