Welcome to Ute-opia

There’s much more to Deniliquin than meets the eye.

Boots, bands, beer and blue singlets. Add a BIG convoy of utes and you’ve got one of Australia’s most iconic country festivals: the legendary Deni Ute Muster.

Since its commencement in 1999 the festival has developed a unique blend of activities and entertainment. It has two night-time concerts featuring Australia’s best country and rock musicians plus a variety of emerging music artists during the day. Not surprisingly there’s plenty of ute-themed competitions including – The Australian National Circle Work Championships, Ute Show’N’Shine award, Ute of the Year title plus a number of Ute driving competitions.

There’s also the annual Guinness World Record attempt for the blue singlet count, a Bull Ride Spectacular, trade stalls, catering sites, a Carnivale Corner with children’s activities and rides, a Ute museum, two licensed bars and a wine bar.

My partner in crime for this trip is my mate Hazy. This is his 5th consecutive muster.

“It’s a ripper weekend. The music’s great, the people are friendly and there’s plenty of cold beer”. “You’ve got to experience it at least once” He tells me a few weeks before the event. “But you’ve got to keep an open mind”.

I don’t need any more convincing. “Lock it in” I reply.

Upon arrival, we set up camp and then wander off to see what’s happening around the place.

I’m immediately impressed by the sheer number of utes parked side by side, row after row.

We stop every now and then to have a chat to the campers. There’s a good mix of people from all over the country. We meet a couple from South Australia, a group of lads from Queensland, some ‘first-timers’ from Melbourne and plenty of locals who regularly support the event.

I quickly learn that ute-owners love their bumper stickers. Some are amusing while others are too crude to publish. I reckon you can learn a lot about a person by the type of ute they drive and the style of bumper sticker they choose to display.

We pass one guy who sits on his giant bull-bar while drinking rum. It’s not surprising that his bumper sticker reads: “I come from a land down under…….. with a Bundy can and a big roo thumper”.

He raises his can as we pass and says “Rum…so much more than a breakfast drink”.

Further on I spot another sticker “You can go fast, but I can go anywhere”. This particular ute is decked out with safari snorkel, bushranger winch, super loom headlights and mud terrain tyres. The owner appears from behind the vehicle wearing khakis and an Akubra hat. I could have easily mistaken him for Les Hiddins – the bush tucker man. It really does look like he could drive anywhere!

The Ute Muster is obviously Deni’s claim to fame. But the area has SO much more on offer.

For those more interested in history and the arts, the Peppin Heritage Centre and the Visitors Information Centre offer a complete history of Deniliquin.

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