The Rover Road Race of 1897 was the brainchild of Percy Armstrong, noted rider and entrepreneurial owner of the Rover Cycling Agency. The gruelling event of 116 miles over rough turn of the century roads proved popular and was later re-named The Beverley to Perth Race -or simply,
1831 The town name is believed to be in homage to Beverley in Yorkshire, home to
some of the earliest Avon Valley explorers, including colonial surgeon Charles
Simons, an early landowner in the district. Townsite land was set aside in 1831, just
two years after the Swan River Colony's foundation.
1843 The Beverley district was surveyed.
1860s Settlers arrived from the 1860s onwards, and a town established in 1868. It
wasn't until the arrival of the Great Southern Railway in 1886 that the town started
to grow. With the completion of the Albany railway in 1889 Beverley became an
important centre. By early 1898 Beverley boasted a population of 190.
1880s The invention of the safety bicycle was made possible by the the invention
of the chain. A geared drive meant that the bicycle wheels could be smaller, lowering
the rider's centre of gravity. Safety bicycles became a practical reality for the
masses and quickly replaced Penny Farthings.
1885 John Kemp Starley, produced the first successful “safety” bicycle, the Rover.
1887 Gold was discovered in Southern Cross opening up the Eastern Goldfields.
1888 The pneumatic tire was invented by John Boyd Dunlop.
1890s The Western Australian gold rush – bicycles were used by many miners to
make the 600 km trip to Kalgoorlie and also formed the backbone of the communications
system in the days before the telegraph. “There are no more venturesome
figures in West Australia's history than the intrepid cyclists who formed what
was known as the “goldfields express”. First among them was east coast endurance
rider Percy Armstrong who had set up a cycle agency in Coolgardie in 1894.
Goldfields cycle messengers provided a quick and reliable means of communication
between postal centres and outlying mining camps - not a job of pedalling
fast over good roads, but, in most instances, a race with death, with the odds on
the dry desert stretches.
1897 The first Beverley to Perth Road Race was held. It was originally called the
Rover Road Race. “The longest road race which has ever taken place in the colony…
The race was arranged by Mr. Percy Armstrong, of the Rover Cycling Agency.
…only 14 “toed the mark”. The time for 116 miles being 6hr.47min. First prize of a
Rover road racer bicycle went to J. W. Beck of Menzies with Governor, Sir Gerald
Smith, acting as judge. The first two races in 1897 and 1898 finished in front of Government
1898 First self propelled automobile imported into WA.
1901 “Armstrong's Cycle Agency, the founders of the Beverley-Perth Road Race
donate first prize: a Rover Path Racer, value £25, and the second prize a Westfield,
value £14 10s'... a total value of just on £40 donated by the sport-loving firm.” Event
sponsorship was taken over by the Dunlop Rubber Company.
1904 News report on the race notes: “After crossing the bridge, a short distance up
the hill from Northam, you can obtain any of the following refreshments: tin of hot
Bovril, tea, milk, or milk, egg and sherry, and sandwiches. At Lloyd's farm, two miles
before reaching Newcastle, you will receive a tin containing hot milk and bread,
and a satchel containing two hard-boiled eggs with shell, removed, two bananas,
two oranges, two ounces raisins and one ounce chocolate. At some, convenient
spot in the neighbourhood of Mayhew's farm at the Thirty-Mile, you will meet officials
who will supply you with a tin of tea and another satchel with similar contents
to the first one received at Newcastle. From this it will be seen that the riders are
not to be allowed to want for sustenance and refreshment.”
1905 “Sprocket:” writes in the Beverley Times “…a closely contested race should
result. Among the riders there are a number of “unknown quantities” .... The race is a
very open one, and there is no foretelling for certain who will turn up trumps.” It
turns out the weather was awful “the matter of the weather, which was anything but
suitable for such a contest, the roads being in many places under water. The section
between Beverley, and Northam is spoken of by riders as being indescribable,
“the water being in some places over a foot deep”
1906 The League of W.A. Wheel men took official control of the event.
1908, The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme was extended to supply Beverley
town with water.
1910 The town of Newcastle, which the “Beverley” passes through, is renamed
Toodyay to avoid confusion with Newcastle on the east coast.
1914 to 1919 The race lapsed during World War One. Beverley had grown and,
amongst other businesses, had four hotels, four banks, two bakeries, two tailors,
three tearooms, a jeweller and two hairdressers.
1929 Beverley rider W. Pender won in 5 hrs.33.56 min,
1933 Pender won again in 5.53.58. He was said to have sight problems but his local
knowledge helped him win at speed. Hubert Opperman, the first Australian to ride
the Tour de France, congratulated the winners.
1936 “…soon after leaving Lloyd's Crossing the competitors rode over the divide into
Clackline where they joined the tarred road from Northam to Perth. Curiously
enough the record for the old, and much more gruelling course, was established in
1935, the last year it was used. From scratch, South Australian Dean Toseland set
the figures at 5.15.38. Just as he reached the top of the Nine-Mile Hill heavy rain fell
and helped to bind the treacherously loose gravel from there to Red Hill.”
1937 “The Beverley to Perth Cycle Race of 116 miles was won yesterday by W J
Maher aged 61 years of Palmyra who in 1908 gained fastest time in the same event
and had not been a competitor since.”
1938 Beverley Town Hall is opened by his Excellency the Lieutenant Governor Sir
James Mitchell on September 1st 1938. It boasted a picture gardens and the latest
art deco deign by Architect and Freemason W G Bennett.
1939-1945 Race lapsed during World War Two
1946 “Big Event Revived. After a lapse of four years the Beverley to Perth cycling
race will be revived next Saturday when the League of West Australian Wheelmen
will conduct the 37th event of the series” This was the first time it was handicapped.
1950s Beverley boasted a strong cycling club. Members often rode to York to
compete or made the longer trek to beat Northam riders on local circuits on both
gravel and tarred roads.
1954 “Jim Oliver staged one of the greatest efforts in W.A. cycling history when he
finished third in the Beverley to Perth with the record time of 4hr 19. 30min. Oliver
covered the first 100 miles in the sensational time of 3 hrs.55.15mins, one of the
best rides recorded in Australia.” Oliver won again in 1956.
1960s Racers include many forefathers of modern cycling and the Western Australian
Cycling Federation, local bike shops and Olympic champions – Vogels,
Suckling, Tognolini, Bishop, Bonser and Barron. Eddie Barron went onto lobby for
the building of the Midvale Speeddome. Henk Vogels rode the Olympics as did
1979 the 150th anniversary of Western Australia is celebrated.
1985 The reversed race route of the “Midland to Beverley” was still tough at 174km.
This was the 76th race, was declared a State Championship and won by Murray
Hall with a first and fastest of 4hr 11.23 min. The Juniors race of 68km from Northam
to Beverley was won by Tony Logan of Midland Cycle Club in 1hr 57.48 min. A juvenile
race of 33km York to Beverley was won by P Talbert.
1988 Hilton McMurdo took out the classic but was not so lucky in 1989; relegated
by a protest over his conduct in the final sprint.
1993 Eddy Hollands took the winners' cup
1994 Race start moved to Gidgegannup making it 142km.
1999 The last race is run. Traffic on the Toodyay Rd made the race too unsafe to
continue. Jim Krynen takes out first over the line with fastest time to R Sherbourne.
2014 South Perth Cycle Club brought The Bevereley back with a recreational Ride.
2016 Cameron Meyer, World Champion won the Race, back after 16 years with a 117km Handicap event along Talbot West Road.