A 1962 EJ Holden station wagon with its roof removed and used as a makeshift trailer, and a Ford Fairlane painted in traditional Warlpiri designs and traded for pearl shells, are two of the star attractions of an exhibition based on the popular Australian television series Bush Mechanics.
Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition, which opened on December 6 at Canberra’s National Museum, 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.
Developed by the National Motor Museum in South Australia, in 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.
The 1962 EJ Holden, from the first episode, perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the show. Its roof famously caved in while transporting band equipment but this setback was resolved by hacking the roof off and attaching it to the back of the car as a makeshift trailer.
The National Museum acquired it in 2003 from Francis Jupurrurla Kelly, the owner of the car and the co-director of the television series.
‘‘The television series captured the imagination of many Australians at the time with its humorous exploration of the relationship between Aboriginal Australia and motoring,’’ exhibition curator Michelangelo Bolognese said.
‘‘The touring exhibition on bush mechanics is the latest chapter in a story that started over 20 years ago in the little community of Yuendumu.
‘‘It has been 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 wonderful to now see it in as important a venue as the National Museum of Australia,’’ Mr Bolognese said.
The quirky four-part series followed five young Warlpiri men as they travelled 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 breakdown required inventive bush resourcefulness to fix.
The show first went to air in the early 2000s on ABC TV and reached more than three million viewers.
The exhibition is rich in original footage from the series and interactive experiences.
Visitors can also admire clay figurines from the Bush Mechanics claymation.
The free exhibition is open until February 24. Mechanics.
Off road . . . Filming the 1962 EJ Holden for the first episode of Bush Picture: National Film and Sound Archive
Pretty rough . . . Mechanics.Picture: 1962 EJ Holden from the first episode of Bush