2001, 4 x 26 Minutes
This off-beat series follows the exploits of the Bush Mechanics, a group of engaging Aboriginal characters who travel through central Australia.
In each episode, the Bush Mechanics who come from the remote Warlpiri community of Yuendumu are presented with a new set of challenges - catching a car thief, getting a nephew out of jail, racing to an outback rock concert and travelling thousands of miles to gather pearl shells for a rainmaking ceremony. As they travel through the desert in their clapped-out vehicles, they solve multiple car problems with wacky and inventive bush repair techniques.
Featured characters include Jack Jakamarra, an Aboriginal elder who introduces the episodes with recollections of his first strange encounters with white people and their ways, and Jupurrula, the magic mechanic who appears out of nowhere to help the Bush Mechanics when they get into real car trouble.
A blend of documentary and drama, each of the four episodes illuminates a particular aspect of Warlpiri life from gathering bush tucker and living in a humpy to football and rock and roll. Combining adventure, magic realism and a distinctive brand of indigenous humour, the series provides a unique insight into both contemporary and traditional Aboriginal culture.
Motorcar Ngutju The Bush Mechanics form a rock band and their first paying gig is a half-day’s drive away - now they just have to get there. None of them owns a vehicle, so they resurrect a derelict car, load it up with band gear and hit the road. This episode follows the five Bush Mechanics as they bounce along rough bush tracks, occasionally encountering Jupurrula, the magic mechanic who helps them overcome their various car catastrophes with his bush ingenuity.
Payback The Bush Mechanics travel to Alice Springs to collect their nephew from jail and wind up having their own brush with the law. Although their nephew Walter has done his time in jail, he still must be brought back to the community to face Aboriginal law or “payback”. On their way home, the Bush Mechanics try to appease an eerie night-time spirit who visits Walter in his dreams. As they approach their destination, the police stop them and send half the gang back to jail for having unpaid warrants for shooting cattle.
Chase, The After an exhilarating win against the Yuendumu Magpies, four Mt Allen football players become stranded when the team bus leaves without them. To get back home, they “borrow” the rival team coach’s car. An hilarious high-octane car chase ensues as the Bush Mechanics are enlisted to catch the culprits. The episode concludes with a spectacular act of revenge when the abandoned car is found.
Rainmakers, The With the country in the grip of severe drought, the Bush Mechanics are summoned by the rainmaker Jungala to go to Broome in search of rainmaking pearl shells. In the old days, Jungala would have traded bush tobacco for the valuable shells, but this time it’s an old Ford V8 he has painted with the Rain Dreaming. As Jungala sings them on their way to saltwater country, the Bush Mechanics are beset with dust storms, fires and unfamiliar landscapes.
A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Warlpiri Media Association Inc. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Producer: Jeni McMahon
Director: David Batty (Director); Francis Jupurrula Kelly (Co-Director)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Featured People: Steven Jupurrula Morton, Errol Jupurrula Nelson, Simeon Jupurrula Ross, Junior Jupurrula Wilson, Randall Jupurrula Wilson
Classification: PG. Consumer advice: adult themes, nudity.
Curriculum Links: Australian Studies, Aboriginal Studies, Indigenous Education, Design & Technology, English, Art, Business and Work, SOSE/HSIE, Cultural Studies, Media Studies. Levels: secondary, tertiary.