The Prawn Bike

Prawn bike from Sydney Olympics Closing Ceremony, Powerhouse Museum Collection.
Designed by John King. Collection; Powerhouse Museum

This bike-riding prawn is one of my favourite things in the Museum’s collection. I both love it, and am deeply suspicious of it.

The costume and bike were used in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony and are part of a large number of Olympic costumes we have in our collection. During the Olympics I was working in a hotel in Sydney City, and this costume reminds me of the fun and frivolous vibe the city adopted whilst the Games were on.

The closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games took place on Sunday 1 October at Stadium Australia, Homebush Bay. It included solemn formalities, an informal parade of athletes and a farewell party that took the form of an unregimented parade with floats that celebrated and often mocked aspects of Australian popular culture. The intention was to conduct the ceremony with decorum until the extinction of the Olympic flame, and then to unleash a party. The artistic director of the closing ceremony David Atkins explained ‘The athletes have finished competition, and are ready to party, and we have set about creating a party to end all parties. We have decided to invite everyone into our giant Australian backyard – fully equipped with Hills Hoists, barbecues, an eclectic mix of music, performers and all manner of Australiana. Australians have a tradition of throwing great parties, and this one will be imbued with a sense of fun, larrikinism and goodwill.’ According to Ric Birch (speaking on Channel 7’s ‘Olympic Sunrise’), the opening ceremony was to represent Australia at large, but the closing ceremony was Sydney’s show.

Whenever I pass this bike in our storage area at Castle Hill it always makes me smile, who wouldn’t?…it’s a giant prawn on a bike!

During some long hours spent working at Castle Hill, near the prawn, I have developed some suspicions that it comes to life when I’m not looking. From the corner of my eye, I think I have caught a flash of orange and movement of a wheel as I have walked by. I’m sure I will catch it move one day.

Erika Dicker
Assistant Curator
Science, Technology, and Industry

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