October 19, 2021

Old Places

Where we study the past to define our future

Greenwich Quadruplet Bicycle Team

Greenwich Quadruplet Bicycle Team

Wallan Hotel and the Greenwich Quadruplet Bicycle Team

Wallan, Victoria. Four guys on a bike. Yes, we shall come to that! A hotel in the background which may be familiar to some of you; it is no other than what we know today as Hogan’s Hotel and formerly known as “Wallan Hotel” – in earlier times the “Woodmans Hotel”.

Some of the photos and information from this article comes from a member of the Gibson family, who owned the hotel from 1970 to 1980 before Hogans. Throughout the ages, the Wallan district had no less than 18 hotels but of which only the formerly named “Wallan Hotel” remains today. The Railway Hotel at Wallan East on the list below has since closed to make way for future development.

But who are the lads on the bike, what are they doing at the Wallan Hotel and what type of bicycle is that?!?! The answers lie within a number of sources:

Online Photo

The below photo is dated 27th December, 1975 and it’s description is as follows:

“Ready for Quadruplet World Distance Record — Boy scouts from the 1st Greenwich Troop will leave Sydney tomorrow (Mon) in attempt to set a world record in an unusual bike ride from Sydney to Melbourne. The boys plan to ride a four seater bicycle.”

Greenwich Quadruplet Bicycle Ride Team
Greenwich Quadruplet Bicycle Ride Team

Boy scouts from the “First Greenwhich Troop” attempting to set a world record in an unusual bike ride from Sydney to Melbourne riding a four seater bike. Hmm. Interesting. Well at least that explains why there are 4 guys on a bike I guess. But why the bike ride? Something to do with a world record?

Newspaper articles stemming from Canberra
The Canberra Times - 3rd January, 1976
The Canberra Times – 3rd January, 1976
The Canberra Times - 27th December, 1975
The Canberra Times – 27th December, 1975

We now learnt that the boys names are Graeme Clark, Geoffrey Hirst (newspaper article has incorrect spelling), Eoin Macneill and Gary Palmer and that they are are members of the Greenwich Scout Troop in Sydney. They plan to set a record for a four seater bicycle ride by riding from Sydney to Melbourne; a journey of over 1000kms and which is expected to take 18 days. They will alternate with another team consisting of James Riley, Michael Chaplin, Michael Catsi and Andrew Finlay with each team riding for about three hours. The money raised by the bike ride will assist in sending members of their Scout Troop to the Scout jamboree in Melbourne and help with extension to their Scout Hall. The bicycle was made by James Riley and his father with parts worth about $2000. If the journey was completed it was believed it would be accepted as a record in the Guinness Book of Records.

Thankyou Letter to Wallan Hotel
Thankyou letter from the Greenwich Quadruplet Bicycle Ride Team
Thankyou letter from the Greenwich Quadruplet Bicycle Ride Team

It does seem like the journey was completed for at some point (assumed to be mid January 1976) the team did reach Wallan on their way to Melbourne. They camped in the yard of the Wallan Hotel and wrote a thankyou letter to the Gibson family for their hospitality and an enjoyable stay. You may note that the letter is signed by the boys which made up the Greenwich Quadruplet Bicycle Team. It is not clear why the term  “complete but pleasant surprise” is used but perhaps the team had not planned to camp there originally? Whatever the case may be, we are thankful that the events which transpired did eventuate and that this small piece of history for Wallan has been recorded.