Australia’s hardest one-day race has a new home.
On Sunday, four legendary figures of the Grafton to Inverell opened a permanent exhibition celebrating the storied event at the National Transport Museum, Inverell.
Alan Grindal, the winner of the inaugural edition in 1961, was joined by fellow winners Leon Cook (1965), Bruce Ryalls (1969) and Don Strahley (1970) at the opening ceremony.
The new exhibit has been created by local organisations and volunteers including Inverell District Family History Group, Inverell Cycle Club and Inverell Shire Council.
Club president and 2021 race director Andrew Blake said it was important to recognise the significance of the race not just from a sporting point of view, but as major annual highlight for the town.
“It’s so good after having the 60th running of the event to acknowledge it and have it set into concrete, so to speak,” said Blake. “I think it’s not all about cycling and the race and the people who love cycling—it’s now about the community and the event itself.
“I think this gives us a good stepping stone to keep it alive and take it to a higher level.”
Kathy McLeod, president of the Inverell District Family History Group, agreed that the stories behind the event, not just the results themselves, made the Grafton to Inverell worth preserving in an exhibit.
“I expected to find stats about who won what and that sort of thing, but I discovered there’s a whole community. Everyone I’ve talked to has told me about the friendships they’ve made from 50, 60 years ago. They still keep in touch and still talk very fondly about the race,” McLeod said.
“I think that’s probably why this race has lasted as long as it has, because there’s a passion out there.”
Highlights of the exhibit include the Jack Griffin Memorial Shield, donated by Cycling NSW in 2013, which hangs in the centre of a champions wall of photographs depicting every winner since 1961. The shield was most recently presented to Rudy Porter, the 2021 victor, whose name will now be added to the honour roll.
At the opening ceremony, Grindal donated the original event program from his winning ride, as well as the silver tea service he won as a prize.
The exhibit features trophies, jerseys, memorabilia and equipment from past editions of the 60-year-old race.
Anyone with items to add to the exhibit, or an interesting in curating the exhibit, is encouraged to contact the Inverell District Family History Group.
National Transport Museum
69 Rifle Range Road
Inverell NSW 2360
Open 7 days
Words and photos by Ryan Miu