When I wrote my first Australian novel, an English friend asked me what I meant by a ‘ute’. I was shocked. Utes are such an intrinsic part of life in Australia – particularly in the bush, that it never occurred to me that anyone would not know what a ute was.
Ute stands for utility – a utility vehicle and I doubt there’s a rural property anywhere in Australia that doesn’t have at least one… or possibly more than one.
Classic utes are generally white, and smaller than what the American’s call a ‘truck’. They go on forever – and it’s not at all uncommon to find a very old ute still in everyday use.
I think I drove my first ute when I was about 13. (On a sheep farm, of course. Not on a public road – that would have been illegal.) Utes are what all young men, and quite a few young women, drive in the bush – often with a working dog in the back.
Cars are a status symbol everywhere – and the Australian bush is no exception. Sometimes a ute becomes more than just a workhorse. This is where ute shows come into the picture. Often held with Bachelor and Spinster Balls, the shows give proud ute owners a chance to show off their prized possessions and compete for coveted trophies.
Not every ute is polished and perfect… take for example the feral ute…
… which must be covered with stickers from as many B&S balls as possible.
There is the chick’s ute class…
…and competitions for big shiny new utes.
The important thing about utes is that they never die. They just sit in a shed…
…and wait for someone to come along and love them.