Certified roadworthy, Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition is on its way to Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Based on the popular Australian television series, Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition is a showcase of the ingenuity of outback mechanics, whose clever resourcefulness can turn branches, spinifex and sand into tools and spare parts to get cars back on the road.

Bush Mechanics

Developed by the National Motor Museum, in close collaboration with the Warlpiri community and PAW Media who produced the series, the exhibition is a light-hearted exploration of the importance of the car to life in the outback.

Tracing the history of bush mechanics, the exhibition captures the show’s distinctive brand of humour. It features a range of items from the series, including two original cars, clay figurines, specially commissioned artwork and interactive displays. It also provides broader insights into Aboriginal life and culture.

For those not familiar with the original show, it is a quirky four-part series which follows five young Warlpiri men as they travel through remote outback Australia in vehicles in various states of roadworthiness, encountering a variety of mechanical problems. Stuck in the middle of the desert with no tools or spare parts, each break down required a certain inventive bush resourcefulness to fix. The show first went to air in the early 2000s on ABC TV and reached over 3 million viewers.

Genevieve Grieves, Head of First Peoples said, "Museums Victoria is thrilled to be bringing Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition to Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum. We hope that visitors experience the magic and adventures of bush mechanics made so popular by the series, and discover something new about Aboriginal culture. We are also delighted to be able to show the Ford Fairlane, now held in Museums Victoria’s collection, for the first time."

Paul Rees, Director of the National Motor Museum said, "The National Motor Museum takes a wide angle lens to what is traditionally thought of as ‘motoring culture and history’ and the Bush Mechanics is such an iconic series for many and varied reasons that it seemed appropriate that we celebrate it with a new life as a museum exhibition."

Michelangelo Bolognese, Curator of Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition said, "This touring exhibition on Bush Mechanics is just the latest chapter in a story that started over 20 years ago in the little community of Yuendumu. It has been such a privilege for the National Motor Museum to show this captivating aspect of life in Central Australia to audiences around the country, and it’s great to now see it in as important a venue as Melbourne Museum."

The Ford Fairlane from the last episode of the series, now held in Museums Victoria's Indigenous collection, will be on show at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre for the first time since it was acquired. The car was painted with traditional Warlpiri designs and driven to Broome where it was traded for pearls to be used in a rainmaking ceremony.

The other car in the exhibition, the EJ Holden from the first episode, is an item that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the show. It is shown in two parts, where its roof famously caved in while transporting band equipment to Willowra. This setback was resolved by hacking the roof off and attaching it to the back of the car as a makeshift trailer.

Visitors can also admire clay figurines from the Bush Mechanics claymation, created to be viewable by those who, as some of the original cast are deceased, could not watch the original series for cultural reasons.

Those wanting to explore the history and continuing appeal of Bush Mechanics even further can grab a copy of Bush Mechanics: From Yuendumu to the World, a recently released book that will be available for purchase in the Melbourne Museum shop.

This exhibition is supported by the Visions of Australia regional touring program, an Australian Government program aiming to improve access to cultural material for all Australians.

Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition is free with entry to Melbourne Museum.

Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition
Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum
9 March – 15 July 2018
Children Free | Concession Free | Adult $14
Open 10am-5pm daily

Interviews available with:

  • Michelangelo Bolognese, Curator of Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition
  • Genevieve Grieves, Head, First Peoples, Museums Victoria
  • Paul Rees, Director, National Motor Museum Director

For information, interviews and images please contact:

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