Lee Kernaghan has always celebrated life on the land in song, but it has not been a case of success simply following success for the unofficial president of the ‘outback club’.

Story by Mary-Anne Dibbs Photos by Paul Green

It’s bump-out day at the show. It could be any show in any town anywhere in Australia, but it happens to be one of the biggest, the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Streets that, just the day before, had been streaming with children, animals, laughing clowns and parades are desolate, except for a couple of utes. The utes have been working at the latest party in the city, but they are dressed for show themselves displaying the now familiar adornments of fur and stickers with the traditional bugs and dust. Two Akubra-topped men approach each other, one wearing a wry smile. “Mate,” he says, “you’re to blame for that!” Lee Kernaghan responds with a bemused laugh.
“Utes were just utes till you started singing about baptising them, you’re to blame for Australia’s ute culture,” the bushie continues. “Should’ve seen my son and his mates this week – they marched in here looking like a line of mini Lee Kernaghans!” He stops and thinks a while. “You made those lads feel proud. Who else can they hang their hat on?”

This story excerpt is from Issue #47

Outback Magazine: June/July 2006