VOLUNTEERS at the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine are asking the community to take a look out in their back sheds and dig up any vintage bicycles that they can find.
Before cars were commonplace on the streets of Wonthaggi, miners heading off to work would saddle up and ride out to the state coal mine.
Now, Parks ranger Elio Piasente is collecting as many old bicycles as he can to preserve for the future in a new bike shed museum.
In particular Elio is looking for older, vintage models.
“People might have them up the back of an old shed, just gathering dust,” Elio said.
“I asked a friend once who was out near Glen Alvie. I said you must be knocking around in plenty of old sheds all the time. Then he dropped off a couple of bikes for me here at the museum.”
Bicycles played an important role in the life of miners, and were used as a mode of transport as well as entertainment.
The Wonthaggi to Melbourne road race of the early 20th century proved to be a popular event, and was considered a classic event of the depression era.
Volunteer at the state coal mine, Jack Blundell, said that cycling became even more important after train services to the area were reduced.
“When they stopped running the Sunday train, the boys would hop on their bikes and ride back from Melbourne,” Jack said.
“It took about three to five hours. They’d often ride in a group, with one taking the lead for a while before switching it up. They were pretty fit.”
For Elio, creating a specific bicycle museum at the mine site is important for the history of the mine and Wonthaggi.
The building that the bikes will be housed in is an old bike shed that was used by the miners to store and maintain their bicycles.
“They’ll be looked after, and they’ll be here forever,” Elio said.
“Preservation is our game. We hope to have the museum up and running by the end of the year. It’ll be another feature of the coal mine, and will keep the preservation of history going.
“I’d just like to see these old bikes on display as a feature, rather than having them destroyed or thrown out.”
If you have an older bicycle that you would like to donate to the bike museum, contact the State Coal Mine on 8427 2118.
Donate your old bike to coal mine museum