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The Bicycle and the Bush: Man and Machine in Rural Australia by [Fitzpatrick, Jim]
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The Bicycle and the Bush: Man and Machine in Rural Australia Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 250 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product Description

The Bicycle and the Bush looks at the bicycle’s use in rural Australia from 1890-1920. It is one of the most unusual, innovative explorations ever undertaken into the role of a transport device and its relationship with a society and its environment. This book surveys the machine's introduction, manufacturing, sales and distribution in Australia, and its broader social impact upon urban society, women, the Australian language, and racing, among other things.
Australia is the size of the continental United States. In 1890, beyond the few inland towns of note, it was mostly the province of sparsely distributed agriculturalists, pastoralists, miners, and keepers of isolated telegraph stations and government outposts. There was a need for travel between the widely spaced settlements and isolated homesteads, and the distances travelled were large by world standards; in few other countries did people move so far as part of their regular work routines.
The machine's use ranged from rabbit fence patrols and telegraph line repairmen, to nearly all shearers being mounted on them for nearly 2 decades. On the Western Australian goldfields, in particular (an area the size of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah combined), the remoteness of early settlements led to the most unusual and extensive network of bicycle paths in the world at that time, based upon camel tracks used to supply mining settlements.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 6413 KB
  • Print Length: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Star Hill Studio (29 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0053D0ZGI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #195,417 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition
Jim Fitzpatrick has gathered together an interesting and very readable history of the bicycle along with an extensive number of photographs and stories about the use of bicycles in Australia. His focus is especially on a forgotton period for bicycles in a lot of popular history. That is, after the penny farthing and before motor cars when bicycles were a revolution in speedy personal transport. It is about Australia but I am sure other countries share some similarities. I reccommend it to anyone who likes cycling.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.8 out of 5 stars 8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Virtual Time Maching 23 May 2012
By Kent Peterson - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In an earlier time, I doubt I would have run across a copy of Jim Fitzpatrick's wonderful book The Bicycle and the Bush: Man and Machine in Rural Australia. I doubt that a publisher would print a large number of copies of a book in so special a niche so I count myself thankful for today's digital age where the World Wide Web, Twitter and Amazon have made searching into clicking and this book into bytes. Those technologies have conspired to deliver Fitzpatrick's careful study to my eager eyes and this book is a treat.

Fitzpatrick spent years researching this book, which looks at the bicycle's use in Australia from about 1890 through 1920. While the book focuses mainly on rural Australia, Fitzpatrick puts the bicycle in its global context and I found myself learning much about bicycling in England and America as well. This is fundamentally a book about technology and how it shapes, alters and integrates into people's lives. Sheep shearers, gold miners, fence runners, clergy and others are all profiled, as are some of the famous racers of the day. Conflicts that we still see to this day, things like bike vs. horse use on the trails and debates of what constitutes proper riding position and attire are traced to their early roots.

I found myself highlighting nearly a hundred passages in this virtual book, subjecting my Twitter followers to a stream of "hey did you know?" updates from my Kindle at odd hours while I stayed up devouring this fascinating document. And the pictures that Fitzpatrick found in old magazines and journals are terrific.

Fitzpatrick's book isn't perfect. At one point he breaks out of the time period of the bulk of the book to discuss a modern day human powered strawberry picker. I actually found this bit of the book fascinating, but it did seem out of place.

Near the close of his book Fitzpatrick laments that many modern bikes have lost the versatility (thing like wide tyres and comfortable upright riding positions) that made the bicycle such a valuable tool in harsh conditions. I think Fitzpatrick would be encouraged by the current existence of companies like Rivendell and things like the rediscovery of the usefulness of frame bags by the current generation of bikepackers.

In The Bicycle and the Bush: Man and Machine in Rural Australia Jim Fitzpatrick has done more than write a great book. He's basically built a time machine to transport the reader back to an earlier age. And that is something nearly as wonderful as the bicycle itself.
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful Work 30 September 2013
By Voltman - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jim Fitzpatrick puts forth a great deal of research in this work. It paints an interesting picture of life in a different era, and how the bicycle fit into the lives of individuals in a time that was changing with technology. This book is a great piece on the socio-economics of the bicycle and its historical impact on Australia. It is great for readers interested in a historical look at bicycles or the impact machines have on changing societies.
4.0 out of 5 stars Very illuminating 15 May 2014
By Troy Parsons - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Quite enjoyed this. I was expecting it to be a little dry, but far from it. I really enjoyed about some of the epic tours done by early cyclists - imagine riding Fremantle to Rockhampton on a single speed bike across the bush! Also very illuminating learning how formative cycling really was in such car-choked countries like Australia. Excellent pictures.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book for someone who can't get enough about bicycles. 12 December 2014
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written and informative. Jim Fitzpatrick holds many pieces to the puzzle of biking history. An impressive amount of research went into these pages. He has a keen insight on bicycles and the role they played in shaping the social and economics of common folks. Bravo Jim.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great overview of bicycling history, from Australian perspective 20 November 2013
By D. Wright - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Treasure trove of bicycle and bicycling history. Lots of insights into the global history of the machine, as well as its use in Australia well into the 20th century. Fascinating stuff for bike-geeks like myself, and a great reference that I've now read more than once.