Joyce Barry

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Joyce Barry is a female cyclist.  Who was very athletic and excelled at a number of sports including foot running, walking, rifle shooting, dancing and skating.  She is most acclaimed for her cycling during the 1930’s, and set a large number of record breaking times and distance records.  Joyce was introduced to cycling at an early age.  She was diagnosed with Pneumonia at age 15.  The doctor suggested cycling as a way to nurse her back to health.

Image courtesy of State library of NSW, advertising for Milk Board

Joyce Barry

Born in 1919 Joyce grew up tall, standing 5 feet, 10 inches.  Joyce was very focused on a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet., and her natural athleticism was suited for the bike.  Joyce came to the notice of Malvern Star bicycles which was run by Bruce Small who offered her a sponsorship. During pre-War Australia, endurance and long distance journeys were very popular.  Malvern Star was very much involved in promoting Australian cycling.  At the time were sponsoring one of Australia’s greatest cycling legends; Hubert Opperman.

To help develop their latest star.  Hubert took Joyce under his wing and offered training and guidance to the up and coming star.  Joyce was given the same 3 speed geared Marlvern Star bicycle that Hubert Opperman rode, and at times was referred to as “Missy Oppy”.

Cycling on my ‘Malvern Star’ in the fresh open air keeps me slim and ensures that delightful bloom which no cosmetic could impart” – Joyce Barry

Bruce Small wanted his brand name to be associated with long distance records and with speed.  Joyce was more than happy to deliver.  She set a large number of Australian distance records including the fastest time between Sydney to Melbourne.  She was quoted as saying after “I almost feel that I could turn round and ride straight back to Sydney”.  On this occasion Joyce wore a yellow pullover and black shorts, and the press nicknamed her “The Flying Wasp”.

Image, Geneology society of Victoria

Joyce Barry’s records included:

Winning 11 open handicap and scratch races in succession during the 1936 N.S.W track season.

Establishing records between:

  1. Sydney to Wollongong
  2.  Orange to Sydney; 270 km (10 hours, 19 minutes)
  3. Newcastle to Sydney; 168 km (6 hours 24 minutes)
  4. Bathurst to Sydney
  5. Stranthorpe to Brisbane ; 298 km (11 hours 46 minutes)
  6. Brisbane to Rockhampton; 777 km (79 hours 25 minutes)
  7. Sydney to Melbourne; 914 km (2 days 2 hours 47 minutes – total 3 hours sleep).  Beating Billie Samuel’s previous record attempt by a massive 22 hours 38 minutes.
  8. Launceston-Hobart-Launceston; 394 km on 19 May 1938 Joyce broke the existing record of the women’s’ record by 2hr 53 mins
  9. October 1938 Joyce broke two State women’s un-paced road records in Western Australia from Bunbury to Perth

The accident

In November 1938.  On the eve of attempting a record from Kalgoorlie to Perth.  Joyce was riding with Hubert Opperman at a track.  They were riding at fast speed when a child crossed the track.  Opperman swerved out of the way, and into Joyce’s path.  She collided with the rear wheel of Oppermans and suffered abrasions, shock and some concussion and was hospitalized.  These injuries kept her off the bike for several months.

Post accident

In September 1939 Joyce set out to establish a women’s seven day cycling record.  This had not been officially done at this time.  She rode a circular route around Sydney and its suburbs and ended up riding 1,782 km in total.  Joyce may have gone on to be considered one of Australia’s greatest cyclists if it wasn’t for World War II which like many athletes spelled the end of their careers.

Image courtesy of State library of NSW, advertising for Milk Board

Joyce Barry passed away on November 23 1999 on her 80th birthday.



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One thought on “Joyce Barry

    David Anderson said:
    April 1, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Great post Brendan

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