The outlandish cars, unbelievable mechanical repairs and irresistible characters from the hit TV series are back on the road!
Based on the popular ABC television series co-created by David Batty and Francis Jupurrurla Kelly, and told through the show’s distinctive brand of humour, Bush Mechanics showcases 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.
Featuring a range of items from the series, including two original cars, clay figurines, specially commissioned artwork, and interactive displays, explore broader insights into Aboriginal life and culture.
This exhibition has been developed by the National Motor Museum, a museum of the History Trust of South Australia, in conjunction with Pintubi Anmatjere Warlpiri (PAW) Media. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia program.
"We left our old camp, and were hunting as we walked toward Wayirdi. It was there that we came across the strange track."
- Jack Jakamarra Ross
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised this exhibition may contain names, images and voices of people who have passed away.
The original Bush Mechanics, a half-hour documentary that first screened in 1999, immediately gripped viewers with an amusing recreation of how the Warlpiri people of Australia’s Tanami Desert first encountered a motorcar.
The ‘strange track’ that Jack Jakamarra Ross spotted as a young man (his young self played by Francis Jupurrurla Kelly) while hunting for kangaroo was the tread of a truck. Fifty years later, the Warlpiri cast of Bush Mechanics were confidently driving, breaking and fixing their own cars. The documentary was followed in 2001 by a series of four episodes of the same length made in Yuendumu by writer/director David Batty and co-director Francis Jupurrurla Kelly, and produced by Warlpiri Media Association in association with Film Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
When it screened on the ABC in 2001, the series was a national hit, watched and loved by over three million Australians. Bush Mechanics was something new: spoken mainly in Warlpiri and subtitled in English, the series combined humour, engaging characters and everyday life in the bush.
The Bush Mechanics exhibition is designed to capture the energetic and upbeat tone of the television series. Warlpiri artist Jason Japaljarri Woods, who worked on the Bush Mechanics claymation, provided the exhibition’s artwork. The almost chaotic blend of sounds, video and ‘things to push and prod’ complement the exhibition’s real stars: two original cars from the show. Several cars appeared in Bush Mechanics, but the two most fondly remembered by fans of the series are the blue Holden EJ Special Station Sedan from the first episode of the series, and the spectacular painted Ford ZF Fairlane from the finale.
The exhibition is rich in original footage from the series, beginning at the entrance, with a specially commissioned extended trailer of Bush Mechanics. Large projections and smaller touchscreens feature more original scenes, while a large digital touch table showcases some of the best Bush Mechanics nyurulypa, or tricks. Visitors can even try their own hand at the tricks by playing the ‘bush driving simulator’ developed for the exhibition. The interactives encourage visitors – children in particular – to engage with the exhibition and to understand its content through doing and making, just as bush mechanics’ repairs are learned. The exhibition is aimed at both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal visitors, and the exhibition text is presented in English and in Warlpiri languages.
The Bush Mechanics series ran for just four episodes, as seen below.
Episode 1, ‘Motorcar Ngutju’
Episode 2, ‘Payback’
Episode 3, ‘The Chase’
Episode 4, ‘The Rainmakers’
This event is wheelchair accessible.
50% visual content rating – Bush Mechanics has both sound and visual components.
50% aural content rating – Bush Mechanics has sound components.
The exhibition text is presented in English and in Warlpiri languages.
Our team will be taking every precaution to ensure your safety within the space. Shared surfaces are regularly sanitised, and hand sanitisers will be available upon entrance to the exhibition.
Some elements of the exhibition are tactile. In each space physical interaction is a choice, not a necessity. Patrons can observe the experience as they so choose.
Room capacities have been placed so all patrons can enjoy the exhibition to the maximum experience, and to ensure social distancing.
Visiting Museum of the Great Southern
At the Western Australian Museum, the health and safety of our visitors, volunteers and employees is our priority.
We have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place, and we are following Government advice.
We have increased the scope of our cleaning regime, and we have hand sanitiser available for visitors.
We ask that all visitors practice physical distancing where possible and good hygiene. If feeling unwell, particularly if experiencing a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, please visit on another day.
For more information visit the WA Government website.
The Museum is open daily from 10am to 4pm at Residency Road, Albany.