Call to step up for top collection of bicycles

Historian Jim Fitzpatrick and curator Merrilyn Billing want to rejuvenate the Zions Hill Bicycle Museum at Ravenswood. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

Historian Jim Fitzpatrick and curator Merrilyn Billing want to rejuvenate the Zions Hill Bicycle Museum at Ravenswood. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

OWNERS of the Zions Hill Bicycle Museum want to rejuvenate the facility, saying much of its century-old historical contents remains unseen to Australians.

Last night marked the Tamar Bicycle Club's annual general meeting, with a guest presentation from bicycle author and historian Jim Fitzpatrick.

Before his appearance, however, TBUG president Malcolm Cowan said he hoped Mr Fitzpatrick's visit from Queensland would provide insight into the largest bicycle collection in the southern hemisphere.

"In order to understand bicycles, we have to understand where we've come from," he said.

"They're not just something that has come out of someone's imagination.

"They've actually been more dominant than cars for a long period of Australia's history."

More than 300 bicycles are on display at the museum, including a 111-year-old machine hailed as one of the first bicycles in Tasmania.

Mr Fitzpatrick said his passion for bicycles began as an urban planner in the US.

"We put in a bike route system in Santa Anna, California and then I moved to Australia," he said.

"I was (originally) looking for a thesis topic and I was going to do various things on a bike and it led me right into the culture of bikes among shearers and the West Australian gold fields and it went from there."

Collection curator Merrilyn Billing inherited the vast collection of bikes from her father after he died three years ago.

Ms Billing wants the collection to reach its full potential at Ravenswood as a hidden treasure for residents and a port of call for tourists.

"We're now looking for volunteers to help us get the museum open again," she said.

"Our bike tourism will grow. It's just a matter of funding it and resourcing it," Mr Cowan added.

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