History of the Australian Motorcycle Museum
The National Motorcycle Museum was initially located in Mitchell, a suburb of Canberra, Australia in 1990. It was started by Brian and Margaret Kelleher, who at this time had been in the motorcycle retail industry for 18 years. Brian had been collecting motorcycles before starting the motorcycle business and they continued storing motorcycles and memorabilia with the dream of one day opening a museum. Motorcycles formed a very important part of Australia's transport history, as they provided a cheap method of motor transport. In the 1950s and 60s many Australians' first motor vehicle was a motorcycle.
When the Kellehers read in a Bureau of Statistics report in 1988 that substantial numbers of our old motorcycles were leaving the country for the USA, Japan and England, they believed that unless something was done promptly much of Australia's motorcycling heritage would be lost. This was the trigger to start the museum for their collection and to offer a home to some of the motorcycles sitting in peoples' sheds.
Keeping it in the Family
After fruitlessly seeking some type of government assistance they decided to go it alone, and set up the National Motorcycle Museum of Australia.
The Museum operated in Canberra for approximately ten years, then the Kellehers sold their ACT motorcycle business and moved to the Mid North Coast of NSW where they built a purpose built complex that houses some 800 motorcycles together with an enormous array of motorcycle memorabilia, toys, an extensive private library and a motorcycle orientated gift shop.
The museum is located in the historic village of Nabiac, 28 kilometres south of Taree and 140 kilometres north of Newcastle on the Pacific Highway, on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia.
Many of the motorcycles are on loan to the museum for display, but the majority are owned by the Kelleher family.
Those interested in loaning machines or memorabilia should contact the museum either by email or by phoning 02 6554 1333.
Among the favourite machines on display are a Kenilworth scooter (1919), a twin cylinder water-cooled 2 stroke Scott, and a Vincent Black Knight. There is an excellent range of vintage bikes from the early nineteen hundreds, and of course many, many very interesting later machines. Allow an hour or two (or ten, if you're a serious enthusiast) to have a good look around and read some of the fascinating history presented. Books, toys, models, badges, patches and memorabilia are available for sale at the museum.
National Motorcycle Museum, Nabiac NSW
Video by Richard Waters (2009)
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