State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 32 December 1983

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The Kangaroo Flat Ramblers Bicycle Club

When the 1884 Australian cyclists annual was published, cycling was an important pastime. There were more than 40 organised clubs in Victoria, each with the paraphernalia of uniforms, captains, buglers and other office-bearers. As well as information about these clubs, the Annual included hints for cyclists about dress, food and drink and the maintenance and repair of their machines, competition results and records and a diary section in which the owner could write up his own club's runs.
Thomas Davis, a member of the Ramblers Club at Kangaroo Flat (a few miles from Bendigo) conscienciously completed the diary in his copy for the first few months of 1884. The Club usually held its runs on Wednesday afternoons (Wednesday being early closing day for shops and offices), though sometimes a moonlight run would be held on another night. Thomas Davis would write up his account of each run two or three days after the event.
The Ramblers were a small club, the names of only ten members being known (compared with Castlemaine's forty and the Sandhurst Invincibles' thirty). Sadly, we cannot picture them in their full uniform, though we know that they wore red stockings, trousers of a light cloth and caps. They came from a variety of backgrounds; an 1884 directory indicates that their fathers included two stockbrokers, two drapers, an engineer, a contractor and a bootmaker. Thomas, the Club Captain, evidently worked in a bank. Max Pincus, the Captain and Treasurer of the Castlemaine Bicycle Club, was a pharmacist aged in his early thirties.
We present here Thomas Davis's diary. A few abbreviations have been expanded; the only omissions are the signatures and dates with which Thomas Davis concluded each entry.
Wednesday Jany. 16th 1884
Ramblers B. C. journeyed to Cherry Tree against a fair breeze.
Present:— Thomas (Capt'n) Middleton Davis Stevens O'Key.
Strolled around the gardens for 1/2 of an hour. Then had 1/- in G.V.'s coming off the winner. After the beverage we started with the intention of riding to the top of the Big Hill but owing to the strength and wind of some of the members failing we got half way and faced homewards thoroughly enjoying the afternoon's ride.
Wednesday 30th Jany. 1st appointed Club run in full uniform. I had the bad luck to not be able to attend. To Lake Weeroona Sydenham G[ardens]
Wednesday 6th Feby. Social run to Crusoe to witness match betn Owls + Wanderers:— present O'Key E. V. Stevens Parker + Davis in full uniform; the most noticeable feature in the match being the hat-trick. Parker in his red stockings etc scattering three wickets in three successive balls and also making three runs batting with one hand the other being tied up owing to the little wheel of his machine tipping up on a previous occasion. (He didn't stick to the saddle.) We journeyed back as far as the finger post and escorted the cricketers as far as the Cherry Tree Hotel where we had a reviver; as we were about to leave Mr. H.b.son and [company?] from Sandhurst drove up and at their pressing invitation to all of us we had no less than seven more before we could fairly start for home.
Monday night — moonlight 11/2/84
We started for the lake at 8 o'clock full uniform with the exception of Middleton + Jno. Stevenson. Present:— Sutton Parker Jno. Stevenson E. V. Stevens Middleton O'Key + Davis. A gentle breeze behind us sent us there at a rapid rate. On the journey back we rode around the fountain and were joined by two riders from the Square reaching
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Thomas Davis's copy of The Australian Cyclists' Annual.

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the Flat at 10 o'clock much pleased with the night's ride. A gentle stoppage of Sutton's and Parker's machines at a dusty crossing near the Gas Works was the only exciting incident (nothing damaged).
Wednesday Feby. 20th. Sociable run to the Epsom Pottery. Present:— Thomas (Capt'n) O'Key Davis in full uniform. O'Key + T.D.S started from the Flat at twenty to 3 p.m. meeting the Capt'n at the Bank at 3 and after a quarter of an hour's rest we started for Epsom reaching there at 4. After introducing ourselves to the foreman we were shown all over the works, the great variety of articles and various modes of Manufacturing being a sight well worth witnessing. We then started for the homeward journey and took a rest at the Botanical Gardens where we were joined by S. Keam. Strolling around for half an hour enjoying the beautiful scenery we came across the swings. O'Key fancying a little elevation jumped on, but he was not there long before he wished himself down again being nearly thrown over the top, a height of about forty feet; another member tried it but he was not there a great while before his knickers (being rather light) had a hole ripped in them of a large size (it was not below the knee either) so he thought it better to get down as it afforded too much amusement to a number of young ladies who were in the gardens at this time. After that melancholy catastrophy we then visited the caged animals and birds. The whole sights, the scenery, the animals and birds and one of the member's pants with the large hole in them, being well worth the stoppings. We then started for Sandhurst got there safely and all had a bath at Fowler's which was very refreshing, considering the sun's heat was over 100° in the shade, and the road very rough. After that we made for home reaching there at 7.30 p.m., well pleased with our adventure and ready for good night's sleep.
Wednesday Feby. 13th (omitted)
A sociable run to Sandhurst to meet the Invincible Club. Present:— O'Key, Stevens, Davis. On arriving in Sandhurst about 3 p.m. we met the Senior Club in the shape of a muster of only four members, viz. S. Keam, Webb, and two others. We then rode on to Kang. Flat and at the invitaion of G. V. Stevens we passed a pleasant time in the gardens O'Key doing some splendid work under the mulberry tree and S. Keam not forgetting to fill his handkerchief. We then escorted the Invincibles half way back to Sandhurst and Middleton coming at the same time joined us on our journey back.
Wednesday Mar. 5th. Sociable run to the Botanical Gardens. Present:— Thomas (Capn) Middleton, O'Key, G. V. Stevens + Davis. On arriving in Sandhurst we met a few of the Invicibles and proceeded with them to the Gardens, which presented a pleasing appearance; there being two picnics there. We strolled around to see if the young monkey had grown much since our last visit and also to come across a small dinner party but having no pemmicans with us we had to go hungry. We then started homewárds the number increasing to thirteen and had a pleasant ride to Sandhurst and then home ready to do a good meal.
Tuesday night moonlight ride appointed by the Club to Lake Weeroona
March 11th 1884
Present:— Thomas, Luxton, O'Key, J. Stevenson, Davis. We started for the Lake at 8 p.m. arriving there before 9 and had a grand spin around the gravel path. We then engaged two boats; Thomas, Luxton + O'Key in one and J. Stevenson and myself in another. After an hour's recreation in the water and being nearly upset through J. Stev's professional rowing we [embarked?] at the boat-house well winded. We then started homewards and arrived there before 11 p.m. well satisfied with the trip and the night air (caps worn).
Wednesday Mar. 12th appointed Club run to Lockwood at 3 p.m. Present:— J. Stevenson, G. V. Stevens, O'Key, Davis full uniforms and hats. Owing to the generosity of the three members not waiting for me for a few minutes (being late starting up) and not saying they started, I was a quarter hour behind time, but overtook them about two miles on the road. We reached Lockwood at 4 p.m. and made for McCabe's garden. He kindly
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showed us over the place and supplied us with fruit at a very low cost to ourselves (nothing). He then went to dig spuds and we started up the garden to get our machines, but through some misfortune or other we had to pass an apple tree with apples of unusual size on it; and it is needless to say it suffered considerably before we got to our machines, J.Stev. especially to the fore, with all pockets filled, each apple weighing nearly two pounds. After that unfortunate affair we attacked the rose bushes and decorated our hats etc. with the roses. We then started home with a little more weight than we had on our journey there well satisfied with our adventure.
Wednesday March 19th:— Run appointed to Castlemaine. Present:— Thomas, Luxton, Stevens, Middleton, J. Stevenson, O'Key + Davis. We started from the Flat at 1/2 past two against a headwind. Arriving at the foot of the Big Hill we then dismounted and wheeled our machines the other side. Remounting we arrived at Crago's where we had 1/- in Jack S's coming off the winner. We then made another start and after travelling about a mile we made very slow progress encountering some badly cut up bush roads and a great many hills combined with long stretches of sand dismounting and marching being the order of the day; however we arrived about midway between Ravenswood and Harcourt and spied a creek which was a very pleasing sight considering it had a nice running stream in it, and a great many of us with our tongues hanging out praying for the sight of a shadow of a public house. We soon jumped the rails and eagerly refreshed ourselves, the heat of this time being rather great. During our stay there for a 1/4 hour we amused ourselves by chasing rabbits which were running about in scores. The sect'y distinguished himself by knocking one over with a stone at a distance of five yards. We then got our machines and remounted and rode about four miles when we came to a large farm-house a little this side of Harcourt. Being very dry again we demounted and asked for a drink, and would not have objected if it had been milk, however those who expected it were doomed to disappointment as the kind lady brought three large buckets of water and a glass which soon satisfied us. We then resumed our journey and travelling on until we came to the Talbot Hotel. The only exciting incident before we came there being the running away of my machine down a very steep hill and passing only a few inches from the Captain at a terrible rate. But the time was short and sweet when I got on level ground my breath came free and I again had great hopes of seeing Castlemaine that night. We entered the Talbot at the invitation of the Capt'n and refreshed ourselves with soda and milk the milk especially being excellent (especially when the landlady's back was turned). After being greatly refreshed we started again and rode without any adventures worth reporting into Castlemaine arriving there at nearly dusk where we were met in the principal street by a few members of the C.B.C. who conducted us to Thwaites' Hotel. Then our pleasures began. After our hot and dusty ride of twenty one miles we stripped off and had a good wash then a brush (Middleton's) down, and were kindly ushered into a spacious dining room and it is needless to say that the good things disppeared quickly. After occupying that appointment for about an hour we took a stroll around the city with our new friends and soon found ourselves in front of one of the leading Tobacconists where the majority of us invested in new pipes + [ ] We were then introduced into Mr. Pincus' establishment where we passed the time away pleasantly doing some good work on the home trainer. It was then nearly time for our departure so we took a stroll round for a short time and then wheeled our machines to the station to wait for the last train. It soon arrived in sight and we put our machines in the vans and took our seats, heartily thanking the Castlemaine men for the kind reception they gave us and hoping to return the compliment at some future date we sped away on our journey. During the long ride the monotony was varied by a few songs from the Capt'n Sec'y + Middleton which made the time pass pleasantly away and the ride seem shorter. We arrived home by the 11.5 train none the worse for our day's outing, not the slightest accident happening to any of us or our machines.
24th I missed (Mon.)
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2nd April (I missed)
Wednesday April 9th
Run to North Bendigo Cricket Grd. Present:— Thomas, Stevens, J. Stevenson, O'Key, Brown + Davis, Parker.
We started from the Flat at 3 p.m. meeting Parker + Brown in Sandhurst to witness the contest between Charing Cs + North Bendigo for Joseph's Cup. We arrived at the Ground a little after the start and saw the last wickets fall for 15 runs (Char. Cross). The North Bendigo then went to the wickets but only made 51 runs. Parker the rambler bowling splendidly taking four good wickets and making three splendid catches. When Parker had finished we made a start for home and got as far as Barnard Street when Jno. Sn. got a nasty fall going through a crossing bending the handles greatly which made his riding difficult on the journey out; however we got back safely after that about 6.30 p.m. pleased with the afternoon's engagement.