We’re in the National Archives!

Sophie and I started this blog in 2012 to record our bicycle trip up the east coast of Australia exploring simpler and more sustainable ways to live.

We never intended it to last very long, but it took off and grew to more than 100,000 words, then became a book.

After the whirlwind tour ended, Sophie and I moved into one of the remarkable communities we had visited on the trip – Murundaka Cohousing in Heidelberg Heights. (Cute aside: we actually got married there too!)

In 2015, was included in the National Library of Australia PANDORA web archive. Like a Fowlers jar filled with home-grown fruit, this story has now been pickled for posterity. We thought that as good a reason as any to call it a day, and take a rest from regular blogging.

You can access the archive here: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/155356/20151202-0715/simplelives.com.au/index.html

In 2016 we had hosting issues and this site lost some posts, so the archive link above is the best place to access all the original content.

Thanks for reading, commenting and sending in your story suggestions…we hope you enjoyed the ride as much as we did.

Signing off,

Greg & Sophie



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A pedal-powered essay

I’m excited to announce a very special event in conjunction with the Melbourne Writers Festival on 24 August and 30 August. It’s called “Ride: Pedal-Powered Essay”, and it’s a cross between a social bike ride and a public lecture, exploring the past, present and future of cycling in Melbourne.

To prepare for the event, I ordered cycling journals from the 1890s through the State Library of Victoria and spent many days pouring over their musty, faded pages, gleaning some interesting (and rather quirky) anecdotes about Melbourne’s early cycling history.

I discovered, for example, that an early sighting of what we might consider a bicycle was in an undertaker’s shop. A group of young engineers had heard about this novel device – called a ‘velocipede’ – and decided to check it out. Perhaps not knowing that it needed momentum to balance, the young men tried to get it to stand up while stationary, but it kept flopping to one side. Puzzled and disappointed, one of the engineers suggested that the undertaker had probably concocted the apparatus from “a purely business point of view”, anticipating that its introduction would be “immediately followed by a startling and desireable increase” in mortality.

Here’s the full story in Australian Cycling News, November 10, 1883:

'An Antiquity', WOne of my favourite images came from a journal called The Austral Wheel, published in Melbourne in the 1890s. Mr. Chas. E. Duryea, described as “a leading American cycle mechanician”, is quoted as saying that the diamond-frame bicycle design is inferior and will be surpassed by a triangular design. With utmost conviction, he declares: “Ages hence, when by the slow process of blundering along, progressing and retrogressing by turns, we find ourselves using the perfect bicycle, it will look something like this.”

Triangle bicycle of the future, Austral Wheel, 1896 close upSorry Chas., old chap, but I think history may have proven you