Early last Friday the boys and I set out on an excellent (mini) adventure for the school holidays. Curiosity had finally got the better of me; I wanted to find out why thousands of people converge on Deniliquin every year for the Deni Ute Muster.
What began as an idea in 1999 to hold the world record for the largest parade of legally registered utes in one location has grown into a huge two-day event that injects a serious amount of money into the Deniliquin local economy.
We teamed up with experienced Deni Ute Muster attendees Leanne and Danny Gleeson and their family to camp at this year’s Muster. With our trusty Nissan packed to the hilt with swags, a couple of tents, eskys and other camping essentials, we convoyed over to Deniliquin.
The weather deteriorated as we approached the town and by the time we’d entered the family camping area at the Deni Ute Muster site the temperature had plummeted, the winds had become cyclonic and rain was forecast.
The boys had brought Henry’s new tent he’d been given for his birthday and I was looking forward to testing out my little Tarptent that I had recently purchased.
The Tarptent lived up to its reviews that suggested I could safely pitch it on the side of a mountain during a blizzard. Standing firm despite the gale force winds that were blowing… sadly we couldn’t say the same for the boys’ tent. Within a matter of moments it was reduced to a twisted mess of shattered fibreglass poles and ripped fabric. Luckily the forecasted rain didn’t eventuate and they all enjoyed sleeping out under the stars in their swags. (Henry hedged his bets by rolling out his swag under the Nissan.)
There was certainly no shortage of entertainment for our two days of camping at the Muster. The bands and singers included amongst others: The Living End, John Williamson, Lee Kernaghan, Daryl Braithwaite, McAlister Kemp, The McClymonts, Travis Collins, US country music star Joe Nichols and former American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson was the headline act.
Dust and nostalgia washed over me as we sat watching the Australian National Circle Work Championships and I thought fondly of my first vehicle; a 1979 HZ V8 Kingswood ute with its twin exhausts and extractors that I’d told my Dad were for fuel efficiency… (sigh) I loved that ute.
The overall winner and crowd favourite in both the circle work and ute barrel racing was a plain, little yellow Datsun 1200 ute. It seemed quite comical next to the B&S styled utes that were adorned with five post roo bars, numerous aerials, roll bars, spotlights and stickers.
Besides music and circle work, we also enjoyed watching the rodeo with its bull riding; ventured out into the ute section (known as the feral area) to watch the tractor pull; admired the spectacular aerobatics display by the ShowTime FMX motorcross bike riders; watched the ute barrel racing competition; enjoyed a glass of Don and Jo Hearn’s medal winning Semillon at the Restdown Wine Bar; Tom, Sam and Henry joined the blue singlet brigade for the official blue singlet count (1667 this year); watched the AFL Grand Final on the big screen near the huge main stage; Justin from Port Fairy bet Henry five dollars that he couldn’t ride the mechanical bull for the full eight seconds… Henry lasted for twelve seconds and collected his money; toasted marshmallows on the campfire after dinner each evening and generally had a great time.
The Deni Ute Muster’s biggest year to date was 2010 when Australian rock legends Cold Chisel were the headline act. That year the number of utes totalled 10,152 with over 25,000 people in attendance.
This year numbers were down and no doubt the weather kept some people away, still there was an impressive total of 5,015 utes gathered in the ute paddock and we along with 15,000 other people enjoyed a fantastic weekend.