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Unlock the Secrets Heritage Pavilion 2021: Sulkies and Buggies

Posted on : 30 March 2021

Sulkies and buggies were the horse-drawn vehicles in most widespread use in Australia. Well into the 20th century, these jaunty conveyances continued to grace our roads.

Before the development of the automobile, horse-drawn vehicles were the most popular form of transport on Australian roads. While events like the arrival of the Model T Ford certainly had an impact, horses continued to be used to carry passengers and freight well into the 20th century.

The most popular vehicles were sulkies and buggies. A sulky is a light two-wheeled vehicle that usually seats one person - the driver. During the 1880s a two-seated version was developed in Sydney from an American design. Its popularity in that city resulted in this model becoming known as the 'Sydney sulky'. At the time the sulky was the cheapest form of horse-drawn passenger vehicle on sale in Australia. Though favoured in the US, the four-wheeled, four-passenger auto-top surrey on display in the Heritage Pavilion, was not a commonly seen model in Australia.

Buggies originally had the same setup as one-seater sulkies, but by the mid-19th century the design evolved, and buggies became four-wheeled carriages for two passengers. Across the world this version of the buggy ended up becoming the most popular carriage ever built. However, Australians preferred four-seater buggies where the rear seat was removable, turning the buggy into a ute-like wagon capable of carrying loads.


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