For many decades, the Easter motorcycle meeting at Bathurst was the most important racing destination in Australia.
This was at its peak during the mid-Seventies until the early Eighties. This photo was taken in 1983 looking up Mountain Straight.
The circuit, as always, was a unique challenge to riders and was also the fastest in the country. As with cars, a strong and enduring bond was formed between makes, riders and supporters.
The first cycle event on the “tourist drive” was a combined meeting of the Motorcycle TT and car Grand Prix in 1938. The venue hosted many important races right through to 1989. Given speeds and how little run-off there is at the circuit, there have been very few deaths over the decades but sadly 4 fatalities in just 4 years in the Seventies caused a major review of track safety.
The last motorcycle race was held at the mount in 2000. Cycle races there and various riders at the peak garnered the same level of fanaticism and obsession that the cars still do.
Sadly also beginning in about the late-Seventies, the mountain top attracted a more “rowdy” element and sections of the camping area became a “no-go” zone for many, especially at night. Burn-outs, torching of bikes and cars, excessive alcohol and drug consumption and other ugly behavior by some, created confrontations with police.
A number of clashes between some patrons and police in 1981 only got much worse in 1983. The spark that ignited the riot apparently was a car that drove through a tent area. Arrests were made but feelings boiled over with the police compound (“The Fort”) surrounded by about 3,000 angry people. The theme was repeated in 1985. An alcohol ban from 1986 combined with dwindling gate numbers would kill the motorcycle races at Bathurst.