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2001/84/10 Bicycle, 'Prawn', Sydney Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, designed by John King, made by Anthony Neeson / Will Northam / Tamara Ealey at Ceremonies Prop Workshop Redfern, New South Wales, Australia, 2000. Click to enlarge.

Prawn bike from Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony

This object has significance in material culture due to its role in the closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games, an important event in the recent history of Sydney and NSW. It has the potential to communicate in exhibitions and publications about the Sydney Olympic Games and has significance in its design, making, use and the cultural meanings ascribed to it.

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.

Irreverent humour was evident from the opening (untelevised) sequence, in which the sports satirists Roy Slaven and HG Nelson welcomed the crowd and coached them in how to use the contents of the small eskies that each of the 110,000 audience members could find on their seats. These contained essential Australian backyard barbecue equipment including fly-swats which, when held aloft, gave a distinctively Australian flavour to the Mexican wave.

The entertainer and 'Crocodile Dundee' film star Paul Hogan was one of the 'Parade of Icons'. Hogan made his entrance astride a giant Crocodile Dundee hat, surrounded by crocodiles on skates, prawns on bicycles, water buffalo on scooters and lizards on unicycles. These emblems of the top end and the outback contrasted with the ceremony's proliferation of suburban images such as Hills Hoists, blowflies, lifesavers and thongs. All were treated with self- deprecating irony rather than clich‚. The prawns have added significance in the context of Hogan's career. During the 1980s he appeared in a series of advertisements for American television to promote US tourism to Australia. His slogan 'I'll throw another shrimp on the barbie' entered the vernacular. Shrimp is the American word for prawn.

The wit and quality of the 'Parade of Icons' showed the influence of the late Peter Tully as artistic director of the Mardi Gras in, for example, the 'pit chicks' in silver hot pants who carried the eyelashes, stiletto shoes and giant mascara for the Priscilla bus.

The opening ceremony told a mythic story of nation-building that dwarfed individuals. It was evocative and subtle. The closing ceremony, however, celebrated personality, celebrity and attitude. Loud and brash, more like a rock concert than a profoundly theatrical event, it was an extravagant send-off -- fun, festive, shamelessly excessive and decidedly weird.


Object No.


Object Statement

Bicycle, 'Prawn', Sydney Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, designed by John King, made by Anthony Neeson / Will Northam / Tamara Ealey at Ceremonies Prop Workshop Redfern, New South Wales, Australia, 2000

Physical Description

5-speed Shimano brand bicycle with a king prawn mounted on top. The bicycle is silver coloured aluminium with a black plastic seat and black plastic grips on the handlebars and handbrakes. Welded to the underside of the seat is an aluminum frame to which a foam representation of a prawn is attached. The prawn is orange-red in colour with yellow, cream, beige and black stripes across the back. The body is made from several panels of foam joined together along the back. Each side has six foam legs and the eyes are made from two black styrofoam balls. The head of the prawn is made from thicker foam than the body and has a receptacle made from metal on the top to hold the antennae. The paint is peeling from the foam. Accompanying the object is a pair of gloves, shoe covers and leg guards.


Bike - The name 'Trent' appears on two pieces of calico in handwritten black text on the inside of the prawn.
Unitard - A white label is sewn to the inside back of the neck with handwritten black text 'Trent'. The name 'Trent' is also handwritten in black on the inside collar.



This prawn bike was designed by John King and made by Anthony Neeson and Will Northam at the Tamara Ealey Ceremonies Prop Workshop in Eveleigh, Redfern, 2000.

The body shell of the prawn was shaped by vacuum-forming a thermal sensitive polyethylene foam sheeting over a sculpted mould in two halves and later joined. The shell was fixed to an aluminium frame and bolted to a standard mountain bike, which surrounded the rider. The feelers were fibreglass rods fixed into the nose of the prawn and the exterior of the prawn was finished using a latex based paint.



This prawn bike was used in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games closing ceremony 'Parade of Icons' segment, Paul Hogan float, Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush, October 1, 2000.

It was made for and owned by the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, and donated to the Powerhouse Museum after the Games.


Credit Line

Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001

Acquisition Date

4 October 2001

Cite this Object


Prawn bike from Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 October 2020, <>


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