Bush Mechanics The Exhibition
there was Bush Mechanics the television series; now there’s Bush Mechanics the museum exhibition.
The popular and quirky TV show, which first aired on the ABC in 2001, presented an Indigenous Australian take on motor mechanics. It was made by Aboriginal media company PAW Media and directed by David Batty.
The five episodes centred on the left-field repair techniques of the show’s stars as they traversed outback areas in their dilapidated cars. These solutions were often humorous, always inventive, sometimes wacky and repeatedly unpredictable.
A good example was the episode where a stationwagon’s roof collapsed under the weight of a band’s equipment. Unfazed, the occupants removed the roof with an axe, flipped it over, loaded their gear on it and tied it to the back of the car as a makeshift sled. And off they went, dragging the roof behind them! Next, a puncture was repaired by stuffing the tyre casing with desert grass.
Bush Mechanics was an instant cult classic, a status reinforced by an exhibition that’s opened at the National Motor Museum in the Adelaide Hills township of Birdwood and runs, in its first season, until July 7.
“The television series captured the imagination of many Australians at the time with its humorous exploration of the relationship between Aboriginal Australia and motoring”, said the National Motor Museum’s senior curator, Mick Bolognese.
The exhibition honours the spirit of Bush Mechanics by taking the same a light-hearted approach as that of the series. Two of the vehicles from the program – on loan from the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and Museums Victoria – feature. Engaging mechanical interactives – made by artisan tinkerer and author of Blokes and Sheds Mark Thomson – will challenge visitors to match their skill against the challenges similar to those faced by the Bush Mechanics during their epic journeys in remote Australia.
“A bush-punk slot car challenge and a bush driving video game that purposefully breaks during the playing are just two of the interactives that will provide visitors with the ‘bush mechanic’ experience,” said tinkerer-in-residence, Mark Thomson.
Accompanying the exhibition is a free education program for student groups at the National Motor Museum from 12 April to 6 July. After this, the exhibition travels on tour to Yuendumu, Tennant Creek, Darwin and Alice Springs. The tour continues when it returns to Adelaide for the Tarnanthi Festival in October before heading off for three-month seasons at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and the Melbourne Museum in Victoria.