Melbourne-based Charlie Farren has spent a lifetime riding bikes and also encouraging many others to ride.
She’s the founder of iconic mass participation cycling events including Around the Bay in a Day and the Great Victorian Bike Ride.
Charlie has also volunteered her considerable organisational skills as a director of both the Amy Gillet Foundation and Cycling Australia, now AusCycling. As president of what was then Bicycle Victoria, she played a key role, assisted by her late husband Paul and others, in transforming what was once a tiny, cash-strapped organisation into one of the largest cycling organisations in the world and was awarded life membership for her services.
Supporting Paul, Charlie co-created and now oversees the Farren Collection, one of the world’s best collections of vintage bicycles.
She has brought optimism, enthusiasm and a wonderful dose of British eccentricity to all of these many and varied roles. I’m sure you’ll be entertained and encouraged by Charlie Farren.
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About Charlie Farren
Charlie Farren was born and raised in London and lived there until she met her husband, Paul Farren.
Charlie and Paul formed a formidable couple who displayed the best characteristics of ‘English eccentricity.’ Paul’s CV included ‘professional musician’, ‘orthodontist’ and ‘instigator of one of the world’s largest and finest collections of rare antique bicycles’.
In the 1970s Charlie and Paul decided to head to Australia, not intending to settle there for the rest of their lives as turned out to be the case. Rather than catch a plane or ship, they drove across Europe and Asia in a rather worn-out Morris Minor.
Once in Australia they settled in inner-city Melbourne and became instrumental in developing the local cycling culture. Charlie was the instigator and organiser of many of Australia’s most iconic cycling events including Around the Bay in a Day and the Great Victorian Bike Ride.
She has also served on the Boards of the Amy Gillet Foundation, and Cycling Australia (now AusCycling). As president of what was then Bicycle Victoria, she played a key role in transforming what was once a tiny, cash-strapped organisation into one of the largest cycling organisations in the world and was awarded life membership for her services.
Since the untimely death of Paul, Charlie has assumed full responsibility for the Farren Collection, some of which she has placed on public display
Photo Credit: Caz Whitehead
Episode Summary Notes
The opening segment of our second influencers! interview begins with Charlie reminiscing about growing up and cycling in her homeland of the United Kingdom and shares her early adventures with her late husband Paul Farren, travelling internationally in their old beat-up Morris Minor.
Charlie then takes us through the iconic Farren Collection, a magnificent collection of 1860-1900 early bicycles and the history behind how the bicycle was first invented in 1817, from the original Draisine, the Velocipede boneshaker and the eventual development of the Penny Farthing bicycles.
Charlie ponders her own bicycle collection and how it forms a significant part of her personal transport journey before delving into her personal passion of organising some of the classic bicycle events in this country. From early beginnings assisting with organising the Melbourne Autumn Day tour to the Great Victorian Bike Ride, the Great Melbourne One-Day Ride, the Easter Bike, the Spring Bike, Around the Bay in a Day… all of these events were pulled together by a group a people including Charlie.
She shares her involvement as director of Cycling Australia (now AusCycling) and how the objective of the Amy Gillett Foundation to achieve safer cycling resonated with her personally, as her own uncle had been killed as a cyclist in London. She discusses how her early days experience as president of Bicycle Institute of Victoria (which became Bicycle Victoria and now Bicycle Network) and finishes off with what’s in store for her in the future.
Charlie rounds off her interview with her continued passion to let people know just how enjoyable cycling is.
For media images, logos and the transcript of the Charlie Farren interview – please click here (available 1 September 2021).