Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Thames (NZ): Bike Ride to Tararu - Second look

 The Fishing Rocks just north of Tararu, feature on many postcards. Sometimes they are coloured, sepia or greyscale. Usually they have some folk on bikes, or walking along the rode, maybe a buggy passing by.
Source: A Barker Collection
What does a SECOND LOOK, tell us about the scene. The people riding the bikes are often women, riding in small groups. In this example there are three women, smartly dressed, with beautiful wide hats. There long hair, secured under their hats. Women on the goldfield were an adventurous lot, and very independent. Often they had to be, their boyfriends/husbands/fathers working long hours in the mines. They did things that women in other areas may not have had the opportunities to tackle. It was quite normal to set off on a ride, the bicycle was liberating for both men and women alike, allowing them to travel so much easier.
 Have they stopped because they are tired? Was this the traditional turning point? Lets ride to the fishing rocks and back. The lady on the left has something on her handlebars, has she taken a drink? Something to eat?? Or something to repair the bikes if required??? The road appears relatively smooth, although there are still loose rocks which would have to watched for, or an accident could have easily happened. All in all, it looks like it was a great day out! Shall we come back again next Sunday? I hear them call.
The fishing rocks area today - the wide still not very wide!
Source: Google maps
There were many cycling clubs in Thames during the late 1800s, and races and rambles were popular for both men and women. Opening day of the cycling season was a major event for the town, as shown in the 1898 photograph below.
Description: 1898. Looking east up the Waiotahi Valley, from the corner of Williamson Street where it meets the beach (now Beach Road), Thames, showing the Royal Hotel on the corner Williamson and Owen Streets (centre) and Messenger's Hill (left rear horizon), and a crowd of cyclists gathered for the opening of the cycling season.
Source: 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-18981125-1-1'

Description: 1899. Group portrait of members of the Thames Cycling Club and their bicycles. Source: 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-18991208-5-5'.

Further information:
PLAYING SPORT on the THAMES GOLDFIELDS: 1867 - 1920, by Althea Barker

To Find A Fortune, Women of the Thames Goldfield 1867-1893 by Rosemary Killip, Victoria University of Wellington, 1995

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