Ute's In The Paddock

I had heard about this place but it was pretty hard to imagine, and when seeing it ‘in the flesh’, I found it difficult to believe my eyes.

Here in the central west of New South Wales, some 30 km east of Condobolin and 3 km off the main road along one of the dustiest roads you could imagine, there is a paddock lined with colourfully decorated and sculpted old Holden utes – almost two dozen of them!

Now these old relics are not just car bodies sitting there on display, they have been thoughtfully and carefully crafted and sculpted into the landscape, each with its own story on signboards showing its reason for being there and what it was that inspired its creation.

The story behind this incredible outback scene goes back to 2007 when Graham and Jana Pickles, owners of Burrawang West Sheep Station in western New South Wales, travelled Route 66 across the United States where they were quite stunned to see a most unusual attraction named ‘Cadillac Ranch’ in Texas. Here, right beside the road were 10 classic Cadillacs buried in the ground up to their windshields. The whole display here was open to the public as a graffiti spray painting canvas for anyone so inspired to leave their mark on what would otherwise become a bunch of rusting wrecks – a dynamic, colourful scene which has for a number of years, created plenty of interest.

Intrigued by the ranch’s popularity, Graham and Jana, as they continued their US travels, started to think about the concept and how they might be able to ‘do something’, perhaps even better, on their own property back in Australia.

Now, we all know the ‘love affair’-like relationship that folk in the bush have with their utes (in particular, Holden utes) and on their return from the US it seems the Pickles had immediate strong support from the local community for the whole concept.

By this stage in their thinking, the Pickles had developed the idea that each ute ‘sculpture’ must have a story or theme which was to depict some aspect of life in the country. Clearly this ambitious project was never going to be simply a line-up of old wrecks with graffiti spray! What was in fact developing , was a real piece of unique Aussie art and with a number of Australia’s most gifted outback artists volunteering to donate their time and talent to create, in their own individual way, what has turned out to be a splendid tribute to life in the Aussie bush … and what more ‘Aussie’ can you get than a battered old Holden ute?

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