So what is Bikey Fixey? “In short, we fix bikes,” says Justin Brow. “For free.”
Most of us will have a once-loved bike sitting in the back shed collecting cobwebs or rusting on the verandah. Or maybe your prize and joy needs a tune-up. Well, Justin Brow and Tim Sproule are your men.
Two years ago the pair started fixing bikes outside People of Coffee (ex Amelia Franklin’s Cafe) once a month, free of charge. “We just do it because we love it. Bellingen is great for its level of volunteerism; this is our contribution to that ethos,” says Justin.
Seems too good to be true? Rod decided to get down and dirty with Justin and put this one through the road test.
Justin how long have you lived in the Bellingen Shire?
I moved here with my young family 12 years ago. Before that I was city-kid through and through- Surry Hills, St Kilda, the Cross, Newtown and North Sydney. But I’ve never looked back. Besides, where else on the planet would you want to bring up your kids?
What inspired you and Tim to start Bikey Fixey?
I’d hazard a guess that every single garage or shed in the Shire has bikes sitting in there that need some love. I guess it’s equal parts sustainability (helping people fix stuff instead of chucking them out), health (getting people active), education (there’s something very satisfying about showing kids how to fix a puncture) and social (there’s always such a good vibe and we meet really interesting people every month). As a special addendum it’s also about community. It’s nice to do stuff for people without asking for something in return. It all comes around, anyway.
People do often give contributions for parts and we get loads of people gifting bikes that me might fix up for a new life. I reckon since we started, we’ve put somewhere in the range of 200 bikes back on the trails.
So if I have a bike needing repairs, when do I rock up to Bikey Fixey?
We are there the 1st Saturday of every month 9 am- 1 pm. Come rain, hail, drought, heatwave or shine, we are there. We haven’t missed a month for two years! It wouldn’t be any good without my main companion Tim, he’s the true hero.
What’s your favourite type of bike?
Old school dragsters do pretty well. Spokey dokes – who can’t love spokey dokes?
Most common bike problem?
Gears, brakes and punctures.
Do you have some favourite bike rides in the Bellingen Shire?
Depending on what type of bike you have, there are heaps of great rides around the place.
Obviously if you’ve got a mountain bike, there are forest roads all over the place. The trip from town out to the Never Never and back is great for both road bikes and mountain bikes.
We’d never recommend Waterfall Way though. The lack of shoulder and the level of traffic makes it simply too dangerous.
The new bike track from Urunga to Hungry Head is a great, safe family track.
We’d obviously love to see more bike paths put in by Council, but it’s an expensive exercise.
Have you done any acting since starring in the I Love Bello Shire feature film?
Hahaha. I see what you did there. My agent reckons she’s got some very promising roles which are very close, but I’m told I can’t talk about them. I went for a job interview recently – does that count?
What do you do when you’re not fixing bikes?
Professionally, I’m a business consultant. I work with a number of companies doing what I can to help them succeed and tapping into various government support programs. Most recently I’ve been working with Planet Lighting as Research and Development Manager, which was great.
More casually, I help sell advertising for the Bellbottom Magazine and run around sticking posters up around the Coffs region for various festivals and gigs.
Your best memory of childhood was?
Building a jump with a plank of wood and a couple of bricks in the cul-de-sac outside the house of a girl that I liked in primary school. I was trying to show off with my rad BMX jumping skills. The week later she agreed to go out with me. I still remember her name.
Your best sporting moment was?
St Kilda’s Barry Breen scoring the winning point 90 seconds out from the siren for their only AFL Grand Final was pretty neat. Although I can’t really take credit – it was five years before my birth. I was there in spirit.
What would you like to be remembered for?
- Loving my kids.
- A preparedness to help people. (How cool is the word “benignity”?)
- Getting the word ‘arove’ included in the Oxford Dictionary.
- The book I’m writing about the way the English language actually developed.
Can you put the word ‘arove’ into a sentence?
Yes I can.
“Thankfully the parcel arove at the birthday girl’s palace in plenty of time.”
“The giant flock of egrets arove at their nesting site before dusk.”
“One eyed Gus arove at the quarry just before shit got real.”
What are you reading right now?
“A Fine Balance”, by Rohinton Mistry; “Illywhacker”, by Peter Carey; and “Complete Stories”, a bunch of short stories by Kurt Vonnegut.
What are you listening to right now?
“In Hell I’ll Be Good Company” by The Dead South (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9FzVhw8_bY). I challenge people to listen to it and not love it. It’s so catchy & gets better with every listen, I reckon. Cute video clip, too. It’s like my life soundtrack right now. Although, the lyrics are deceptively dark.
Can I give a shout out to Mojo Juju? This woman continues to blow my mind. I have a fan-boy selfie with her.
What really annoys you?
- The way Australia is going. Peter Dutton having the capacity to create a secret police state.
- People walking out at pedestrian crossings without checking it’s safe.
- I just don’t get those guys.
- Midges – there is no space for midges, EVER.
The best lesson your parents taught you?
Respect every single person.
The last big belly laugh you had was?
I’m listening to a podcast called “Mission to ZYXX” – those guys are awesome. It’s a pastiche of Star Wars, Star Trek and Hitchhikers-type vibes. It’s very funny and really well put together. I mostly listen to it when I’m driving. I’m that guy you pass on Waterfall Way laughing his head off.
What project are you currently working on?
I’m spending a lot of time researching and writing a book which will give some insight into the actual way the English language developed. Hint: it wasn’t a fluke; it was a very nuanced strategy based on a bet made during the Golden Era of the Roman Empire.
How do you relax?
I love cooking, so that really helps me unwind. I love exploring new dishes from around the world. I have a bit of a ritual these days where I prepare dinner while listening to Triple J’s Hack news programme. Being nearly 50, I’m not sure I’m allowed to listen to Triple J anymore, so don’t dob me in. I also enjoy researching for my book.
Favourite restaurant in the Shire?
To be honest, as mentioned, cooking is my happy place and I really enjoy plating yummy food to those sitting at my kitchen table. Besides, with three kids, eating out gets pretty expensive and I don’t really have the spare cash. I can pretty much feed a table for the same price as a single main meal.
Although, Za’atar and Qudo are fantastic.
The previous career you wish you could forget?
I reckon all my past experience helps formulate who I am today and ‘forgetting’ them would only do me a disservice. The best way to learn is from mistakes, afterall.
I reckon my weirdest job was promoting a regional tour of the Russian Cossack Dancers when I was about 23. The guy cash rolling it was some crazy Russian millionaire who lived in Sydney. He offered me what, at the time, was stupidly huge money. I had a car, drove around regional NSW and had a ball. Only later did I find out that he was paying these highly-tuned performers/athletes a pittance. I did feel bad in retrospect that I had inadvertently supported such exploitation. The dancers were really nice people.
Favourite holiday destination & why?
For fear of speaking to the converted, I’d have to say Bellingen. I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled a bit around the world. But fair dinkum, there’s no place like what we have here. It is truly amazing. The sense of community we share here is something money can’t buy. And, of course, the natural beauty blows most other places away.
Skiing Queenstown, NZ is mind-blowing and a mate has a very rustic shack on 250 acres in the Snowy Mountains. I took the kids there a couple of years ago and we skied/snowboarded at Perisher and Thredbo, which was epic.
In the movie “Brow, the man, the mystery”, who would play you?
I used to get lots of calls from Clooney.
But now I’ve grown a beard, I reckon it’d be some bloke who played Noah or some salty sea captain in any of those films from ye olden days.