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David hits the streets of Evandale.
David hits the streets of Evandale.
Penny-farthing statue.
St Andrew's Uniting Church.

Evandale Penny Farthing tour

Thursday, April 11, 2002
David steps back in time as he tours Tassie's Evandale at a vintage pace.

Penny-farthings have been around since the mid-1800s. Their front wheels measure around 130cm and the back just 41cm, which is why they were nicknamed after England's largest and smallest coins of the period. The demise of the penny-farthing came about because of its poor safety records. Potholes and riders going headfirst over the handlebars became too common, so they slowly vanished.

Jeff McClintock started Penny-Farthing Cycle Tours in 2001 and now people can enjoy the experience in the penny-farthing capital of Australia: Evandale, Tasmania. It is classified an historic town with some wonderful examples of Georgian buildings. Its economic wealth was based on wool, lamb, cattle, dairy, wheat, oats, barley and peas. Jeff and his family relocated to Evandale from Queensland and fell in love with the village atmosphere of their new home. One of the locals convinced him to have a penny-farthing ride and after just one, he was hooked. He now owns four bikes; reproductions of originals, and an old tricycle.

Jeff says if you can ride a bicycle, you can ride a penny farthing - except you are 1½m off the ground. He has converted dozens of family and friends into fans. It takes just about 15 minutes for each person to feel confident about getting on and off - and that's the most difficult part - but Jeff gives one-on-one assistance.

The town is well suited to cycling as the streets are intact and it is quite flat. It has some beautiful, historic buildings to look at while you are cycling. The National Penny-Farthing Championships have been hosted there for 20 years, and fierce competitors come from Europe, the United States, Japan and the Czech Republic.

Riders meet at the Olde Bicycle Shop where there is a short talk about the history of the bicycle. Then you're provided with helmets and taken around the corner to a quiet back street to begin your lessons. Pioneer Park is nearby and when you feel you're ready, you can go there for a quick spin. After this, you have morning or afternoon tea at the local bakery and then head off on your tour.

The 5km ride stops at three places. First stop is Evandale's oldest residence, "Fallgrove", which was built in 1826. It was built on a large land grant and is not normally open to the public.

St Andrews Uniting Church, the second stop, is the best-preserved colonial church in Tasmania. It was built in 1840 in the Greek Revival style, with Doric columns carved from single pieces of stone quarried from a nearby quarry.

You will then see a remnant air shaft which was part of the Evandale to Launceston Water Scheme, the most ambitious convict-built engineering scheme ever undertaken in Australia. In fact, Evandale was established to service settlers and the convicts who worked on the scheme.

There is much beauty to be admired in Evandale. Clarendon House was built in 1838 by a wealthy wool grower. It has extensive formal gardens and is classified National Trust. There are galleries, shops and cafes to enjoy, and the Evandale experience is one of stepping back into a more genteel time.

Location

Evandale, 20km south of Launceston.

Cost

Penny-Farthing Cycle Tours cost $75 per person, including a lesson, morning or afternoon tea and a four hour tour. They operate year round.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Penny Farthing Cycle Tours
Ph/Fax: (03) 6391 9101
Website: www.pennyfarthingtours.com.au
e-mail: info@pennyfarthingtours.com.au

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