Gallery: Aussie ute shoot-out
It's Australia day! Celebrate with our outback adventure in a pair of bruising V8 pick-ups
Posted: 26 Jan 2015
"It's a 1975 HJ Monaro," she tells me. "We actually bought it new. It's the Bathurst Edition and everything." It's a classic, and worth a fortune. And it's sitting here under a dusty tarp.
But we have to push on. There's one last stop to make.
Hidden on a country backroad about two miles outside Ootha - a town so small most maps ignore it completely - is an Aussie attraction that few have ever heard of. In a sheep-filled paddock and burning in the midday sun, 15 Holden utes are propped up on their tray-tops looking like an army of past-it Transformers. Each has been painted by an outback painter, or transformed into a slice of Australiana by a bush artist. There's UteZilla, a 1957 FE ute transformed into a hulking kangaroo-shaped monster. Or the Emute, a 1975 HJ ute, which looks like it's been crashed nose-first into the dirt, the angry eye of an emu staring out from below the passenger window. It goes on: the Ute of Arms (Holden's first ute, the FX, adorned with a giant emu and kangaroo), or Ute-topia (a rusty old Holden speared by three gigantic metal grass trees) or Trib-ute (a 1964 EH ute covered with the traditional Dreamtime paintings of Australia's aboriginal people). Local farmers Graham and Jana Pickles created it, appealing for out-of-use utes and asking the artists to donate their talents. It's a breathtaking celebration of Australia's motoring history that couldn't, and shouldn't, exist anywhere but these sun-ravaged fields in the middle of the outback.