Sunburnt Country: Icons of Australian Motoring

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Friday, 31st May 2013 till Friday, 1st June 2018
Organised by: 
National Motor Museum

Sunburnt Country honours Australia’s iconic vehicles, legendary people, motoring innovation and adventurous journeys. From the novelty of a horseless carriage in 1899 to the 1948 release of ‘Australia’s Own Car’ – the Holden, Sunburnt Country celebrates Australia’s unique love affair with all things motoring. See the vehicles that first conquered Australia’s rugged landscape and vast distances and have kept those in isolated regions in touch with the rest of the world. Australians have embraced motoring as a fundamental part of our lives, and for many, it is an obsession.

Exhibits include:

The hand built 1899 Shearer Steam Carriage - an experiment to build a horseless carriage fueled by mallee stumps to be driven under its own power. 

The transcontinental crossing of Australia in a 1908 Talbot – the epic journey from Adelaide to Darwin across the centre of the Australian landscape through soft desert sands, rocky creeks, and dense bush that proved the motor car could manage the distances and difficult terrain of this continent.

See the sleek 1920s design of a 1924 Australian Six – more successful examples of a car assembled and badged in Australia with parts selected from the USA to suit Australian conditions.

Developed during the Great Depression, the Australian designed 1934 Ford Coupe Utility pioneered the dual role of the ute as both a working and a recreational vehicle. Ever since the Great Aussie Ute has been a motoring and cultural icon. 

Purchased originally by trucking pioneer Harry Ding, this faithful 1936 Leyland Badger enabled legendary South Australian Mailman of the Outback, Tom Kruse, to deliver much needed mail, supplies and even the occasional passenger on a fortnightly 500km trek along the Birdsville Track.

Australia finally had its own motor industry with the release of the 1948 Holden – ‘Australia’s Own Car’ heralded the development of heavy industry, employment and new skills in the post-war era. See South Australia’s earliest surviving example and once owned by the Holden family. 

Other objects on display include Australia’s first driver’s license, Edwardian motoring costumes and a variety of automobilia. So make a B-line for Birdwood and cruise through Australia’s motoring heritage.

Permanent exhibition
National Motor Museum
Shannon Street
Birdwood, SA 5234
Free with general admission
Please note: 


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