Racing Cathy Freeman at Scienceworks

If you grew up in Melbourne during the 1990s, you probably went on at least one school excursion to the Scienceworks Museum, located in the inner-western suburb of Spotswood.

Main entry to the Scienceworks museum at Spotswood, Melbourne

Located in the shadows of the West Gate Bridge and opened in 1992 by then-Premier Joan Kirner, the most memorable part of my primary school visit was racing Cathy Freeman on the interactive running track.

Almost 15 years later, you can still race Cathy Freeman at Scienceworks

Cathy Freeman hit the national spotlight in 1990, when the Australian 4 × 100 metre relay team that she was a member of won a gold medal at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand. Two more gold medals followed at 1994 Commonwealth Games, in both the 200 metre and 400 metre events. The ‘race against Cathy Freeman’ exhibit dates to the above period, when world class athletes didn’t wear ridiculous looking running suits in order to shave a few fractions of a second from their lap times.

Race Cathy Freeman - 20 years on

Twenty years on, and the new generation of school children can still race against Cathy Freeman, despite none of them being old enough to remember her final performance – winning gold in the 400 metre final at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.


The sponsor list at the Scienceworks entrance is also incredibly dated, full of long defunct companies and organisations.

Sponsors of the Scienceworks museum

They include:

  • Aberfoyle Limited: mining company, purchased by Western Metals Limited in 1998.
  • ACI Glass: bottle manufacturer in Spotswood, purchased by US giant Owens-Illinois in 1998.
  • Ashton Mining Limited: diamond miner in the Kimberley, taken over by Rio Tinto Limited in 2000.
  • Australian Airlines: government owned domestic airline, merged into Qantas in 1992.
  • Energy Victoria: government authority, became the Sustainable Energy Authority Victoria in 2000.
  • Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria: government-owned monopoly supplier of household gas, disaggregated and privatised from 1997.
  • Invicta Group Industries: carpet manufacturer in Braybrook, acquired in 1993 as part of a government-supported rationalization of the Australian carpet industry.
  • Telecom Australia: Australia monopoly telecommunication provider, renamed Telstra in 1995.
  • City of Williamstown: local government area that covered the Melbourne suburbs of Williamstown, Newport and Spotswood, abolished in 1994 as part of the rationalisation of LGAs in Victoria, now part of the City of Hobsons Bay.
  • Kodak Australia: manufactured photographic film at Coburg, the factory closed in 2004.
  • CRA Limited: zinc miner, renamed Rio Tinto Limited in 1997.
  • WMC Resources: mining and fertilizer company, taken over by BHP Billiton in 2005.
  • Aerospace Technologies of Australia: government owned aircraft manufacturer based at Fishermans Bend, sold in 1995 to Boeing Australia.
  • Bendigo Building Society: became a bank in 1995.
  • MIM Holdings Limited: operated mines in Mount Isa, was taken over by Xstrata Holdings in 2003.
  • Public Transport Corporation: operated passenger and freight trains, trams and bus services in Victoria, until broken up and privatised in 1999.
  • Preston & Northcote Community Hospital: hospital in the northern suburbs, closed and merged with the Northern Hospital in 1998.
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6 Responses to “Racing Cathy Freeman at Scienceworks”

  1. Evan says:

    Actually racing Cathy Freeman was for schmucks. What you did was to have someone at each end – one would trip the clock start beam, the other would trip the finish line beams immediately after.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      That’s a clever trick – a similar bit of mischief I got up to in my younger days was inflating the pedestrian counts at my local shopping centre – all you needed to do was wave my hand across the infra-red beam.

  2. enno says:

    “long default companies” ?

    Do you mean companies which defaulted, or perhaps “defunct”.

    Not all of those companies actually went broke, most of them were taken over.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The word I intended to use was ‘defunct’ – but I missed it when proofreading. 🙁

      You are correct about the large number of companies that were taken over – in particular, those in mining.

  3. Scott says:

    The noticeboard does say “foundation sponsors” so I don’t think the notice board was supposed to be updated. I didn’t know that Science works was still around – now there’s a blast from the past!

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