Podcast Episode 293: Lennie Gwyther


In 1932, 9-year-old Lennie Gwyther set out to ride a thousand kilometers to see the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Along the way he became a symbol of Australian grit and determination. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell the story of Lennie’s journey, and what it meant to a struggling nation.

We’ll also recall a Moscow hostage crisis and puzzle over a surprising attack.


Japanese detective novelist Edogawa Rampo’s name is a phonetic homage.

Samuel Barber decided his future at age 9.

Sources for our feature on Lennie Gwyther:

Peter Lalor, The Bridge: The Epic Story of an Australian Icon — The Sydney Harbour Bridge, 2006.

Stephanie Owen Reeder, Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony, 2015.

Susan Carson, “Spun From Four Horizons: Re-Writing the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” Journal of Australian Studies 33:4 (2009), 417-429.

Paul Genoni, “The Sydney Harbour Bridge: From Modernity to Post-Modernity in Australian Fiction,” Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature 12 (2012), 1-12.

“Lennie’s Sister Thanks the Community in a Book,” South Gippsland Sentinel-Times, Dec. 13, 2018.

Rachael Lucas, “Leongatha’s Legendary 9yo Lennie Gwyther Garners a Statue for Epic Sydney Harbour Bridge Pony Ride,” ABC Gippsland, Oct. 18, 2017.

Peter Lalor, “Salute for Bridge Boy Who Rode Into History,” Weekend Australian, Oct. 14, 2017, 5.

Alexandra Laskie, “Lennie Gwyther’s Solo Ride From Leongatha to Sydney Remembered,” [Melbourne] Weekly Times, Oct. 13, 2017.

Jessica Anstice, “Lennie’s Statue to Be Revealed,” Great Southern Star, Oct. 10, 2017.

Yvonne Gardiner, “Lennie’s Famous Ride Adds a New Bronzed Chapter,” Queensland Times, June 15, 2017.

“Immortalising Lennie,” South Gippsland Sentinel-Times, March 1, 2016.

Carolyn Webb, “The Nine-Year-Old Who Rode a Pony 1000km to Sydney,” Sydney Morning Herald, Jan. 22, 2015.

Neil Kearney, “Little Lennie the Toast of a Nation,” [Melbourne] Herald Sun, March 17, 2007, 33.

Michelle Cazzulino, “The Boy Who Rode 1400km to See Our Bridge,” [Surry Hills, N.S.W.] Daily Telegraph, March 12, 2007, 11.

Peter Lalor, “A Symbol for Australia,” Weekend Australian, March 10, 2007, 1.

“A Ride Into History,” [Surry Hills, N.S.W.] Sunday Telegraph, Oct. 16, 2005, 91.

“Lennie Gwyther’s Long Ride Ended,” Bombala [N.S.W.] Times, June 17, 1932, 1.

“Lennie Gwyther Home,” Lockhart [N.S.W.] Review and Oaklands Advertiser, June 14, 1932, 2.

“Lennie Gwyther,” Sydney Morning Herald, June 11, 1932, 18.

“Visit of Lennie Gwyther,” [Benalla, Victoria] North Eastern Ensign, May 27, 1932, 3.

“Lennie Gwyther,” Sydney Morning Herald, May 9, 1932, 10.

“Lennie Gwyther Returning,” Newcastle [N.S.W.] Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, April 21, 1932, 6.

“Lennie Gwyther’s Return Journey,” Sydney Morning Herald, April 20, 1932, 12.

“Lennie Gwyther,” Morwell [Victoria] Advertiser, April 15, 1932, 1.

“Lennie Gwyther’s Example,” Sydney Morning Herald, March 18, 1932, 7.

Lennie Gwyther, “The Boy With the Pony,” Sydney Morning Herald, March 12, 1932, 9.

“Boy’s Long Ride to Attend the Royal Show,” Sydney Morning Herald, March 10, 1932, 12.

“550-Mile Pony Ride,” Melbourne Herald, March 9, 1932, 11.

“A Boy, His Pony and the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” Conversations, ABC Radio, Oct. 31, 2018.

“Lennie the Legend,” The History Listen, ABC Radio National, April 17, 2018.

Charlotte Roberts, “Lennie Gwyther,” Sydney Living Museums (accessed April 13, 2020).


Listener mail:

Claire Bates, “When Foot-and-Mouth Disease Stopped the UK in Its Tracks,” BBC News Magazine, Feb. 17, 2016.

“Foot-and-Mouth Outbreak of 2001,” BBC News, Feb. 18, 2011.

Wikipedia, “2001 United Kingdom Foot-and-Mouth Outbreak” (accessed April 18, 2020).

Video of a 4×4 Panda navigating a challenging track.

“Hostage Crisis in Moscow Theater,” History.com, Nov. 24, 2009.

Wikipedia, “Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis” (accessed April 15, 2020).

Michael Wines, “The Aftermath in Moscow: Post-Mortem in Moscow; Russia Names Drug in Raid, Defending Use,” New York Times, Oct. 31, 2002.

Erika Kinetz and Maria Danilova, “Lethal Chemical Now Used as a Drug Haunts Theater Hostages,” Associated Press, Oct. 8, 2016.

Artem Krechetnikov, “Moscow Theatre Siege: Questions Remain Unanswered,” BBC Russian, Oct. 24, 2012.

Becky Little, “How Opioids Were Used as Weapons During the Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis,” History.com, May 25, 2018.

Anna Rudnitskaya, “Nord-Ost Tragedy Goes On,” Moscow News, Feb. 29, 2008.

This week’s lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Greg. Here’s a corroborating link (warning — this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet — you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we’ve set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!