Bikes and Bushrangers

LM was terrified of riding her bike… until last week. The desire to be able to ride around town with her new pet rescue chihuahuas was stronger than her fear, so she pulled the bike out of it’s hiding place, pumped up the tyres and practised riding for hours every day until she was ready to hit the wide streets of Harden.

She mastered it quickly and is now easily keeping up with me (my beloved ladylike has been my main transport for years). So, yesterday I promised that we ride to the outer reaches of town throughout the course of the day (it’s not a very big town).

At 7.30 am she was up and about and ready to go. So we headed to our sister-town, Murrumburrah, for break. Murrumburrah actually starts across the road from our house. It’s all downhill, so it was fab.

At breakfast, we were introduced to the launch of a new Australian movie, Ben Hall. We live in the heart of bushranger country here and the founder of that very cafe was actually killed by a bushranger. I was surprised that I had never discussed this in detail with LM, so the discussion began (over a maths multiplication game). Though we have been to the very spot where that killing took place (on a friend’s farm).

I read her the histories of both Ben Hall and Ned Kelly. We talked about their status as Australian folk heroes. I even talked about the rumours that our decedents used to offer safe harbour to the Kelly gang – one white sheet on the clothesline means that it wasn’t safe and that they should ride by.

This then led to a conversation about early social stratification in our region, ranging from the squatocracy through to the blue bloods (whose wealth had been made importing opium via the British India Company).

At this point we jumped back on our bikes and rode all around the back lanes of town. The conversation continued. We discussed whether they should be celebrated as Australian icons and why they are so famous. LM very firmly believes that they shouldn’t be celebrated, but the anti-establishment part of me appreciates that they are.

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