Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition

Bush Mechanics is currently on display at the Newcastle Museum, NSW

Where: Newcastle Museum, NSW

When:   Thursday 5 March – Sunday 30 May 2020

For more information visit the Newcastle Museum website.

Bush Mechanics

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, this exhibition 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.

Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition 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.
Bush Mechanics
Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see original footage from the series and try their hand at some of the ingenious and resourceful nyurulypa, or tricks, by assembling the discarded parts that make up the exhibition’s ‘bush driving simulator’ and operating it.

Exhibition admission is included with general Museum entry: Adults $12.50, Children $6.50 and Family (2 Adults and up to 4 Children) $32. Museum entry is free for residents of the Toowoomba Regional Council area with proof of residency.

More About Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition

Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition is based on the incredibly popular ABC TV series of the same name. It shows the adoption of the motorcar as an integral part of Aboriginal life in Central Australia. More than just a showcase of bush ingenuity, the show was a documentary-style series with strong elements of comedy, music and magical realism.

The exhibition will show the ingenuity of the bush mechanics in the context of Warlpiri storytelling, music and art and wider issues (motoring and non-motoring) affecting Aboriginal Australians.

At the start of the series, a Warlpiri elder narrates his very first encounter with the motorcar in the Central Desert. What’s this big monster? It must be sleeping ponders young Jack Jakamarra Ross, before running for dear life. When the action returns to the present day, young Warlpiri men are confidently applying makeshift (but very effective) ‘nyurulypa’ – good tricks to keep their cars running. In Australia’s remote centre, where spanners and trolley jacks are few and far between, mulga, spinifex and sand become tools and spare parts.

The National Motor Museum has developed the exhibition in close partnership with Pintubi Anmatjere Warlpiri (PAW) Media, the original producers of the series.

Bush Mechanics Exhibition on The Adelaide Show Podcast episode…

You've probably seen Bush Mechanics : from Warlpiri Media Association on ABC TV or ABC iview, but now you can get closer to the experience at the Bush Mechanics exhibition at the National Motor Museum – Australia in Birdwood. In tonight's episode, we lift the bonnet and kick up some dust around the many life themes this show brings to the surface; survival, ingenuity, outback, Aboriginal culture, trends in museum exhibitions, storytelling, and the lost but recoverable art of tinkering. In the meantime, here's a quick, personal tour with curator, Mick Bolognese.PS And apologies to Mick for misspelling his surname in the video titles. Need to slow down to "bush time" to avoid such mistakes of haste!

Posted by The Adelaide Show Podcast on Tuesday, 23 May 2017


National Tour:

Next stop:  TBC

The exhibition has previously toured to:

The Workshops Rail Museum, Ipswich, Queensland – August 2019 to February 2020

Cobb & Co, Toowoomba, Queensland – March to August 2019

National Museum of Australia Canberra, ACT

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum – May to November 2018

Adelaide, SA Tarnanthi  Festival – October 2017

Alice Springs, NT Road Transport Hall of Fame – August 2017

Darwin, NT Royal Darwin Show – July 2017

Tennant Creek, NT Tennant Creek Civic Hall – July 2017

Yuendumu, NT Yuendumu Recreation Hall – July 2017

National Motor Museum  – April to July 2017


Where next?

Museums wishing to host the Bush Mechanics Exhibition are encouraged to contact Mick Bolognese at the National Motor Museum.