Waratah motorcycles were produced in Sydney, NSW, Australia from 1911 to 1948 by Williams Bros. The name history of Waratah was probably derived from the state emblem flower of New South Wales. Waratahs were primarily known as economical, durable, and dependable transportation, rather than for use in racing.
In the 1930s, Waratah motorcycles were advertised as getting 150 miles per gallon of gasoline. An early ad claimed that Waratah could get more than ten miles to the penny. While they rode low at seat level, they also boasted a high chassis ground clearance – well suited for some of the rougher Australian roads.
Early models of the Waratah motorcycle were built by Canada Cycle & Motor Agency in Sydney by W. A. Williams from 1905 until 1913. An early model from 1911 featured a 4.5 hp Fafnir engine, which is described as being “English”. However, the Fafnir engine is German.
Williams later turned over the operation to his sons, Perce and Reg, in 1913. Early models are though to be re-branded Sun motorcycles from Britain, using Villiers engines. Even in its later existence following World War II, Waratah was known for “badge engineering” of imported components – mostly from England. Excelsior and Norman parts were often used. The goal was always efficiency and economy.
Waratah and its Australian competitors Whiting and Spencer were eventually squeezed out of the market by Japanese competitors, such a Honda and Kawasaki on the utilitarian side. Harley Davidson became the cult high-end product in the United States, while Waratah focused on dependability and economy. Waratah motorcycles enjoyed the longest and perhaps most successful lifespan for Australian motorcycle brands.
- Year Started: 1911
- Year Ended: 1948
- Origin Of Name: The waratah flower, emblem of New South Wales
- Location Sales: Australia
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Canada Cycle & Motor Agency, Ltd.
- Owner While In Use: Williams Bros.
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Honda motorcycles
- Naics Code: 336991
- Location Headquarters: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia