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National Museum of Australia

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Collection Explorer


Cattle Truck 1997

Object information

Physical description

Bush toy truck in two parts. The main part of the truck has a corrugated grey metal cab and a wire-caged wooden tray, which only has one pair of wheels attached to it at the rear axle. The front of the truck sits on top of one axle pair of two separate but linked pairs of wheels. The pair that the truck sits on forms its front axle. The other axle pair are on the bottom of a long metal handle that enables the truck to be pulled along. All of the wheels are made of plastic and carved foam. A screw on the bottom of the main part of the truck attaches the two parts.

Statement of significance

This collection contains sixty-eight bush toys commissioned for the Bush Toys exhibition and created from 1997 to 1999. The works were made by eleven emerging and established artists from three Eastern Arrente communities from Central Australia: Tristan Young, Calvin Smith, Christopher Wallace and Douglas Wallace, Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa Mission); David Wallace and Johnny Young from Titjikala (Maryvale Station); Lindsay James, Clifford Tilmouth, Davey Tilmouth, Maxi Wehr and Michael Wehr from Engawala (Alcoota Station). Prior to their acquisition by the Museum, these works were exhibited as Bush Toys at a number of venues in rural and remote Australia.

The objects are made from found and salvaged materials and are based on the toys that they either used or made as children and still make for their children or in Tristan Young's case still make and play with. Aboriginal communities have always produced toys for their children as teaching tools to prepare them for adulthood. Historically these were miniature versions of implements and utensils that were essential for daily survival such as toy spears, toy shields and toy boomerangs. Since the introduction of new materials like metal, plastic and glass, these toys have evolved to reflect the environment and lifestyle of the makers. Since the 1970s when many of the adults became involved in working on cattle stations, some of the toys modelled a horse and rider, some incorporated scenes of stockmen, stockyards and rodeos. Over time toys reflected changing technology in use on cattle stations. Trucks, motorbikes, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft were made.

Object information

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