Mid West cycling star had many strings to his bow

Headshot of Adam Poulsen
Adam PoulsenGeraldton Guardian

Friends and relatives of multi-talented Geraldton cycling legend, the late Neville Wellman, paid their respects at a funeral service at Geraldton Public Cemetery in late December.

Mr Wellman won 433 races and broke several records in a career spanning from the mid 1960s to the early 80s, followed by a brief and successful comeback in the early 90s.

Mr Wellman’s brother Terry, also a champion cyclist, said Neville was the greatest sportsman ever to emerge from Geraldton.

“Neville has won every major race in Geraldton a minimum of four times over from scratch, and many big races around Perth — both track and road,” he said.

In 1965, aged 17, Wellman set the Northampton to Geraldton record, completing the 51.2km ride in one hour, four minutes and 26 seconds.

Another early milestone for Wellman was winning the 1965 State junior championships in Mundijong: an 80km race against elite riders.

“That was a big one. No kid from the country had ever won a State junior championship,” Terry said.

Two years later, Neville Wellman won the State senior 800m track title held at Midland.

After two years of national service in 1970-71, he returned to competitive racing and continued to excel.

In 1974, he won the Douglas Jones Classic — a massive event in Australian cycling at the time.

Three years later, Mr Wellman smashed the previously held record in the Midland 100 — which was actually 160km — by 14 minutes.

Terry Wellman described his brother as “aggro but very soft underneath”. “If he had 10 cents in his pocket and you wanted it, he’d give it to you, even though he’d need it himself,” he said.

“He was tough because his competitive spirit was so high — even up to the day he died.”

Long-time friend Geoff Peacock said Neville Wellman was “a good guy and a bit of a character”.

“He was generous and he was very, very competitive,” Mr Peacock said. “He trained hard and he rode hard, and he helped a lot of other guys and new bike riders.”

Mr Wellman was born in Northam but grew up in the Geraldton area, where he worked as a painter until moving to Mandurah in 2003.

As well as being an accomplished cyclist, Mr Wellman was a champion boxer and a talented guitar player and vocalist.

Terry Wellman said some of the highlights of his brother’s music career included winning a Tamworth Country Music Award with his band Kaleidescope in 1986 and backing country legend Johnny Cash when he toured Australia in the 80s. Neville Wellman died on December 12, aged 69.

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