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Why Deni Ute Muster Should Be On Your Bucket List

23 September 2015 | 11:33 am | Upasana Chatterjee

If you don't know, now you know

Tucked into regional New South Wales is the small town of Deniliquin, home to 8,000 residents and the iconic Deni Ute Muster. Running strong since 1999, the two-day festival is a triumphant way to celebrate the rural, farming culture and the humble ute that has shaped the Deniliquin way of life.

Inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest parade of legally registered utes in the world (2,839 to be exact), the Deni Ute Muster has grown into a tourist attraction for nearly 25,000 people, who gather in town with their utes (or otherwise) to experience two nights of solid country and rock musos. With 2015's festival kicking off next Friday, we thought we'd take you through why this Aussie festival is as important an experience as the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Ocean Road or Uluru.

it's a celebration of australian cultural identity

Like a number of words we Aussies lovingly truncate (servo, barbie, rego...), Deni is a shrine to their favourite truncation of all — the ute. A resilient, practical vehicle for all those who lead the country and rural lifestyle, Deni has erected a Ute On A Pole in honour of the unassuming set of wheels that allow many a family to live an uncomplicated life. Ute-opia. Seeing nearly 10,000 utes traipse in through the swirling dirt will be a sight in itself and if it doesn't ignite a sense of community in you, then we don't know what will. Maybe it'll be the 4,000 people wearing blue shearer's singlets as a mark of unity and pride, setting a world record for the most attendees wearing a "bluey" at once.

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Photo courtesy of Ben Vella/DestinationNSW

the bands are killer 

The perfect insignia of Australiana, the almighty Cold Chisel will be headlining the event and will take to the stage on Friday, 2 October. Having played the Muster in 2010, the Chisel larrikins pulled the largest crowd ever recorded at Muster so there's no doubt they'll be pushing to beat that this year. On top of Chisel, you can catch ARIA-winning rockers Birds Of Tokyo, country legend Lee Kernaghan (who is a solid ute-lover, having sung She's My Ute, Baptise My Ute and Ute Me), the three rockin' ladies in The McClymonts, Adam Eckersley Band and much more, spaced out over two nights of heart-pounding tunes.

Photo courtesy of Ben Vella/DestinationNSW

but there's more than just bands…

The bands kick off from 6pm on the main stage each night, so in the day time you can catch the artists on the Ice Break Day Stage (our hot pick: the Deni Uke Muster, a huge non-profit organisation of ukelele players) or you can catch the slew of other things on offer, such as the Holden Barrel Race, the Holden Grunt Off, where five people face off against other teams to pull a Holden ute over 40m and the AWPA NSW Whipcracking Championships (too bad ordinary punters can't have a go). There's also a Bullride Spectacular, a sand sculptor and even an opportunity to watch the AFL Grand Final on Saturday arvo on the big arena screen. There's also the Milwaukee Tradie Challenge, where tradies try to build their own outdoor dunny and a new attraction, the Yamaha Supertank, where you can try catch your own dinner from a huge fishing tank. 

Photo courtesy of Ben Vella/DestinationNSW

the roadtrip there is something to look forward to in itself

Depending on where you're driving to Deni Ute Muster from, there are always a variety of pitstops to take to make the most out of your roadtrip. I'll be heading down to Deni from Sydney, so stopovers for me will include Katoomba, Orange for a couple of wine tastings, Canowindra stopping at the Age of Fishes Museum, Cowra, Junee, Wagga Wagga, Narrandera (where there's a Koala Park!) and finally Deniliquin. Driving through the countryside, taking in the sights and change in landscape, meeting locals along the way creates an unmatched experience and a bank of stories you won't forget. If you can do it in a classic car, even better.