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Argent bike revives river trip

Tuesday, 7th April, 2015

Kaye Vockenson (from left), Lyle Paull, Shane Rush, Rosemary Lott and Mike Snoad leave Broken Hill for Stephen’s Creek yesterday. Kaye Vockenson (from left), Lyle Paull, Shane Rush, Rosemary Lott and Mike Snoad leave Broken Hill for Stephen’s Creek yesterday.

By Michael Murphy

A group of vintage bicycle enthusiasts pedalled out of the Silver City yesterday afternoon on their way up the Darling River to Bourke.

One of the bikes - which owner Lyle Paull picked up on eBay for $300 five years ago - had its origins in the Silver City, and sparked the idea for a “re-enactment”.

Five riders, and one guy in a backup vehicle, are on a “shearers ride” in honour of the men who traversed along the Darling River more than 100 years ago in search of work.

The cyclists hit the road at noon yesterday on their fixed-pedal machines from the 1890s to 1920s.

Their first stop was Stephen’s Creek on the road to Menindee, then Wilcannia, Tilpa, Louth and finally Bourke, with stops at stations between each township.

They’ll also wear period costumes during their travels through the old country for ten days.

“It’s good to revive a bit of the old Australia history,” said Lyle, adding that most of the group was from Brisbane while a couple were from Canberra.

“Bicycles in the bush ... a lot of it is forgotten.”

Some of cyclists inherited their precious metal from their grandfathers, while Lyle’s piece of Broken Hill history came from the online auction site.

His “Lewis Argent” was named after the Silver City’s most famous street, and probably began its life in a shop along Broken Hill’s “Golden Mile”.

Lyle replaced the rims and stripped off a couple of coats of its hand-painted finish to reveal the Lewis Argent moniker.

In July 1898, the SA Cyclist reported that Lewis had new premises in Broken Hill, on Argent Street adjacent to the Denver City Hotel, the city’s first brick and stone building.

At the time, the agency was “the largest in Broken Hill”.

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