In a continent as vast and sparsely populated as this, the love affair between the Aussie and his or her four-wheeled animal is totally understandable. And because ranches, vineyards and other agricultural sites make up the life of many of us, the favourite is the utility vehicle, or “Ute” as it is lovingly referred to. “Muster”, the English word meaning a gathering of troops, has come to mean at different times in Australia a gathering of convicts, an assembly for census taking and a gathering of livestock to be branded. The Ute as folklore recounts, was made in 1933, because a farmer's wife wanted a vehicle good enough for work on weekends and to take her to church on Sundays. To showcase its love for this vehicle, Australians have created the Ute Muster. Held every year in many parts of Australia, it is part country fair, part car show, part festival, all with a fun-filled flavour that is uniquely Aussie.

At a Ute Muster, owners of hundreds of utility trucks gather to show off their vehicles and compete for prizes in different States like “best feral Ute”, “best rural Ute” or “best chick's Ute” comprising what is known as a Beaut Ute Competition. Lasting for several days, these events often feature agricultural shows, rodeos and music festivals. The Utes competing at these musters are painstakingly painted, decorated and personalized with lights, stickers and other add ons, creating a multi-million dollar retail business selling anything a Ute owner's heart could desire.

And, of course, whenever there's fun and laughter in Australia, there's country music. The Ute Muster in Deniliquin, New South Wales, often shortened to “Deni”, is the largest in the world with more than 10,000 Utes and a crowd of 25,000. In addition to the Ute competitions and bull riding events, it features live country music concerts where some of the most famous local country artists perform. The annual Caboolture Urban Muster in Queensland which stars country music icon Lee Kernaghan and a long list of country music artists and bands, is really a country music festival with a Beaut Ute competition.

Ute Muster organizers charge contestants a small fee, allowing them to participate in several competitive events. The Ute Muster is not only an economic boon for the region, but also a magnetic fund raiser for local communities and charities. In 2010, the Deni raised $13 million for the local economy and $18 million for the state of New South Wales.

Because many who attend the musters come from long distances, the larger events provide for camping and bar facilities which many people make use of and which contribute a significant part of the funds raised at the event.

Ute Musters are closely associated with B&S Balls since the latter are often organized by Ute lovers. The Deniliquin Ute Muster also features the Circle Work ChampionshipsTM where competing Utes are driven in tighter and tighter circles while going faster and faster. Bumper stickers, of which Ute enthusiasts are mad about, feature prominently in the event. At times, the most number of bumper stickers on a Ute may be the deciding factor in a Beaut Ute competition.

Deni Ute Muster