Australian Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Austral Motorcycles

Manufactured by Austral Cycle Agency

306-307 Little Flinders St, Melbourne - 139-141 Elizabeth St, Melbourne (1898)

Branches: 391 George St Sydney; Queen Street, Brisbane; Gray Street, Hamilton; Malop Street, Geelong; Hay Street Perth.

The first motorcycle to arrive in Australia was imported by the Austral Cycle Agency. It arrived in Brisbane in 1895 bound for a customer in Mackay, 1000 km north. It was displayed in the firm's Queen Street store until February 1896 awaiting supplies of benzol from Sydney, and before delivery caused a sensation on Brisbane streets when it was ridden. Leon Mitchel in his Dec 2012 edition of "Serpolette's Tricycle" explains why the machine was most likely an Ariel.

Mr Percy Hunter, of the Daily Telegraph, and Mr W. J. Elliott, of the Austral Cycle Agency, who left Melbourne on the motor cycles with a despatch from the Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria to Lord Beauchamp, met with an accident after leaving Albury, near Germanton. Going through a creek, which proved deeper than was expected, the induction coil of one of the machines got wet, and this delayed the journey for 24 hours. After another start, the riders determined to make up time and travel by night. On approaching Germanton, a bridge culvert was met with, and on riding over it Mr Hunter's cycle got entangled in a loose board on the bridge, which knocked the machine about to such an extent that it was decided to abandon the journey for the present. After temporarily mending the machine, Mr Hunter rode into Wagga, arriving on Friday night at about 9.30., and caught the express train to Sydney. Mr Elliott remained at Tarcutta, whence he was towed into Wagga by the coach.

On being interviewed Mr Hunter said that it was the intention of Mr Elliott to make the trip again. Both riders are satisfied that the machines are able to do the work in record time, barring accidents. The machines, on good rood, put in about 15 miles per hour. In one place the cyclists were chased by a bull!

Murrumburrah Signal and County of Harden Advocate (NSW) Sat 17 Nov 1900


Perth, Friday Evening.

This afternoon a fire broke out in Dean's chemist shop in Hay-street. The shop and the Austral Cycle Agency adjoining were both gutted whilst their front portions were damaged by water and smoke.

Great Southern Herald (Katanning, WA) Sat 19 Dec 1908 (Trove)

It has been suggested that Sparkbrook motorcycles may have been marketed under the Austral name in the 1920s. See the page on Torpedo of Launceston.

Austral bicycles were very popular in Australia - there was an Austral Wheel Race with a prize of 240 gold sovereigns (a small fortune at the time), and even an Austral cycling magazine. One of their riders became a household name - Valda Unthank (1909-1987) was a champion cyclist during the 1930s, breaking numerous records.

N.B. The Austral name was in use in France. See Austral 1905-1932

Sources: Trove NLA; Leon Mitchel,;;

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