Bush Mechanics

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Bush Mechanics is a humorous 2001 television docudrama series directed by David Batty and Francis Jupurrurla Kelly and produced by the Warlpiri Media Association (now Pintubi Anmatjere Warlpiri (PAW) Media), featuring an Aboriginal Australian take on motor mechanics, since described as "iconic". The film starred Warlpiri people and was filmed in and around Yuendumu, a large mainly Indigenous town in the Northern Territory of Australia.


An touring exhibition based on the series toured Australian museums from 2018 to 2019, with a book published to accompany it in 2017.


Bush Mechanics is a four-part television series directed by David Batty and Francis Jupurrurla Kelly, and produced by the Warlpiri Media Association, released in 2001. [1]

A bush mechanic, in Australian parlance, is someone who uses unorthodox techniques and readily available materials to build or fix mechanical problems. [2] The television show features Aboriginal (Warlpiri) people from Yuendumu, in the Northern Territory, fixing cars as they travel through Central Australia. As they traverse the desert in their dilapidated vehicles, the series follows how they solve multiple car problems with inventive, wacky and unpredictable bush repair techniques. The characters include Jack Jakamarra, an Aboriginal elder who introduces the episodes by recalling some of his first encounters with white people and their ways, and Jupurrula, the "magic mechanic" who seems to appear out of nowhere to help the Bush Mechanics when they're in real trouble. [3]

The television series was made after initial half-hour documentary, which garnered international recognition. [4] It consisted of four subsequent episodes, first broadcast by ABC Television (Australia) from 2 October 2001 [3] to December 2001. [5] The episodes were: [1]

  1. Motorcar Ngutju (Good Motorcar)
  2. Payback
  3. The Chase
  4. The Rainmakers

The series is notable for being one of the first media to be in an Aboriginal Australian language, as much of the dialogue is in Warlpiri and Kriol. [6]


Episode One involved a station wagon with the band's equipment on the roof. Since the car was very old, the back half collapsed. They then removed the roof of the car with an axe, turned it upside down, and tied it to the back of the car, loaded the items from the roof onto the same roof and then used it as a trailer behind the car. They continued down the sandy track dragging the roof behind them.


Describe as one of the most original and popular television series produced in Australia, [7] and "iconic", [5] the series afterwards became a bestselling DVD. [7]


Exhibition and book

An exhibition based on the series was developed by the National Motor Museum (a museum of the History Trust of South Australia) and Pintubi Anmatjere Warlpiri (PAW) Media, in 2018. It was mounted at the Melbourne Museum from 9 March to 15 March 2018 before touring the country, [5] finishing at the National Museum of Australia from 6 December 2018 to 24 February 2019. [9] A book entitled Bush mechanics: from Yuendumu to the world, by Mandy Paul, was published in 2017 to accompany the exhibition. [10]

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  1. 1 2 Korff, Jens (21 December 2018). "Bush Mechanics (Film)". Creative Spirits. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  2. Bush Mechanics definition
  3. 1 2 "Bush Mechanics". TV Documentaries. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 October 2001. Archived from the original on 6 November 2006.
  4. "Bush Mechanics - The Original film". YouTube.
  5. 1 2 3 "Bush Mechanics: The Exhibition Goes On Tour". The Upsider. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  6. Meakins, Felicity (7 May 2015). "Some Australian Indigenous languages you should know". Australian Research Council (ARC), Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  7. 1 2 Caterson, Simon (15 February 2018). "Flat tyre? Grab the spinifex. Bush Mechanics roll into Melbourne Museum". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  8. "Bush Mechanics: Awards". imdb.
  9. "Bush Mechanics". National Museum of Australia. 14 November 2018. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  10. Paul, Mandy (2017). Bolognese, Michelangelo (ed.). A book entitled Bush mechanics: from Yuendumu to the world was. Wakefield Press. ISBN   9781743055151. OCLC   1003642387 . Retrieved 20 August 2020. This catalogue and the exhibition it accompanies are the result of a partnership between the National Motor Museum (a museum of the History Trust of South Australia) and Pintubi Anmatjere Warlpiri (PAW) Media (Worldcat entry)