Story By James Barclay

What better way to celebrate your 125th birthday than with a ute show? That’s how the town of Maidenwell in Queensland’s south-east went about things. Held late last year to mark 125 years since the town’s foundation, the big bash attracted a crowd of 600 and boasted the sort of events that only a small town can pull off really well including old-time blacksmithing and woodturning demos. And, of course, some seriously impressive bush utes.
There were nine categories, ranging from Best in Shire to Best Feral. Oldest ute was a hotly contested category with the beautiful 1936 Dodge Coupe owned by Ray Dell, of Nanango, Qld, competing against fellow Nanango resident Rick Bethke’s 1948 Chevy.
The day’s celebrations included the unearthing of the town’s time capsule that was buried some 25 years ago. For many it was the highlight of the day, but really the best-looking piece of vintage machinery was the 1948 fire engine displayed by Ted Tucker, also of Nanango. Before running water was installed in the town, this red beauty – restored to its former glory by the Nanango Historical Society – used to carry around 3150-litre water barrels to fight fires.
Judging wound up around noon, and the utes took to the streets. Alongside cars representing businesses in and around Maidenwell, the motorcade paraded through town to a cheering crowd.

This story excerpt is from Issue #57

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2008