Aboriginal people always had the talent to come up with ingenious solutions to problems which could be fatal in the desert. This has not changed in modern day Australia. The four Bush Mechanics documentaries show how a group of Aboriginal men goes about resurrecting or fixing cars none of us would have thought could move another metre.
The four episodes approach this ingenuity in a humorous way. The repairs are never the only focus but form stunning highlights in each episode.
Motorcar Ngutju (Good Motorcar)
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Simeon Jupurrula Ross
Steven Jupurrula Morton
Errol Jupurrula Nelson
Junior Jupurrula Wilson
Randall Jupurrula Wilson
Jack Jakamarra Ross
Francis Jupurrula Kelly
Hugh Miller Morgan
Warren Japanganlea Williams
Harry Japangardi Jones
- Release dates
- 1998 - Australia, original documentary
2001 - Australia, TV series (4 episodes)
- Video/DVD release date
- PG - Parental guidance
Conversations in Bush Mechanics are in Warlpiri with English subtitles.
Co-director Francis Jupurrula Kelly is Indigenous, but David Batty is not.
Apparently the methods of the Bush Mechanics are sometimes not really serious, as some viewers comment that "a little licence is taken" or "it is tongue-in-cheek".
Bush Mechanics official homepage is at www.bushmechanics.com.
Watch now or find a DVD/BlueRay copy
Disclosure: I might get commissions for purchases made through some of the links.
Browse a list of Aboriginal film suppliers and distributors
Other films by Francis Jupurrurla Kelly & David Batty
Use the Aboriginal film timeline to discover films you never heard of.
Take the quiz: Are you an Aboriginal movie buff?