Below is an extract from the new release Bush Mechanics: From Yuendumu to the World, edited by Mandy Paul and Michaelangelo Bolognese. The book explores the wildly popular TV series of the same name that aired on the ABC from 2001 – 2002, and goes behind the scenes showing readers the highs and lows of life in the remote Australian outback.
Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders are warned that this extract and video may contain the names, faces and voices of deceased people.
Extract from page 8 of Bush Mechanics:
‘While memories of the humour, indignity and anguish associated with a technology of invasion opens the Bush Mechanics series, the stories soon turn to the ways that Warlpiri themselves have taken to automobiles. While Europeans first brought motor vehicles into the Central Desert, now these Warlpiri men leave the community to bring them in for their own purposes and according to their own values. Cars and the things that yapa do with them have become saturated with meanings and embedded in practices that reflect the possibilities and constraints of life in Yuendumu. Perhaps most notably, the distinct car culture portrayed in Bush Mechanics is a contemporary expression of an earlier subsistence economy that continues to be strong in the present.
Crocodile, the dapper advocate of humpy living in the fourth episode, wonderfully demonstrates the ongoing importance of bush food in contemporary Warlpiri life. As he digs a kangaroo out of the ashes, Crocodile proudly declares that he is able to provide his family with a big feed without a supermarket. Automobiles are similarly placed, by choice and by necessity, within a local subsistence economy that continues to thrive alongside the cash economy. By incorporating cars within that system, the bush mechanics have devised ways around the material deprivations that characterise their lives in Yuendumu. They have created their own ways of being men with wheels, based on an impressive disregard for the orthodoxies of individual car ownership, the economics of the car market, and the professionalisation of automobile repair. In so presenting the bush mechanics as mobile makers – foragers of mechanical parts and disseminators of alternative solutions – the series offers upbeat parables of the men’s self-determined survival within settler colonialism.’
A brilliant example of the ingenuity and determination of the Bush Mechanics can be seen in the following video. The mechanics are returning home after a paying band gig in a nearby town and run into some trouble with their car – more than once!
Bush Mechanics is available online or in store at 16 Rose st, Mile End