John Mack — 22 January 2016

In early September, an armada of 88 Bushtracker ‘land yachts’ sailed into Mullumbimby, NSW, for the 12th annual Bushtracker Muster. They arrived from all points of the compass – south from Cape York and the drought regions of central Queensland, east from the central deserts of the Northern Territory and South Australia, and north from the great southlands of Tassie and Victoria. When the fleet was safely anchored in the Mullumbimby Showgrounds, we even discovered a few locals and some blow-ins from Western Australia.

The muster occurs annually at different sites around the country and, while the primary purpose is to hold the Bushtracker Owners Group Annual General Meeting, they are designed to be informative and entertaining. It is a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and reminisce about interesting trips and destinations. For the ‘newbies’, there is also a wealth of information about remote area travel on offer from the more experienced owners.

Early arrivals started drifting in from September 9, with the official opening kicking off on September 12. Club president Pam Stanley opened the muster and welcomed the large turn-out of ‘Boggers’ – a collective term for owners in the Bushtracker Owners Group, or BOG for short. Byron Shire councillor and Mullumbimby Showgrounds Trust president Diane Woods welcomed the group to ‘Mullum’ and Bushtracker Caravans director Steve Gibbs sponsored a significant volume of excellent wines and champagnes that were enjoyed at the opening and at the spit roast dinner.

The ‘Wandering Minstrels’, Malcolm and Mary Gladstone, who live nearby Lismore, played their brand of easy listening music and, later, under the influence of great wines and good music, it was reported that some Boggers only had a hazy idea about the precise location of their vans among the many similar models.


Steve, along with senior staff from the Bushtracker factory, presented several informative sessions covering the company’s latest research and development projects, while other BOG sponsors made presentations on their equipment. Several informal groups gathered daily to discuss areas of common interest or assist new members on the intricacies of ‘bush mechanic fixes’ when out beyond the Black Stump.

The spit roast dinner, a highlight at these Musters, was a splendid evening. ‘Tassie Pete’ Nalder and his team did a huge job, slow-roasting 19 joints of pork and lamb on three rotating spits. That evening, entertainment came from the ‘Mullumbimby Bloke’ Ray Essery – one of the funniest recitals of yarns, poems and songs I have ever heard.

There was a host of other activities throughout the week, such as breakfast by the beach, morning walks, birdwatching, and reading the Muster Mumbles to see the list of upcoming events, who had won the previous day’s quiz and any other notorious happenings, such as the ‘Spit The Dummy Awards’ where the poor recipient had to wear the oversized baby’s dummy around his or her neck for the next 24 hours.

Some guests enjoyed a morning tea and craft workshop where the quilts were ‘aired’ and other crafty ideas were demonstrated. Later, the ‘Boggers Market’ sold a wide variety of goods ranging from gold nuggets to clever homemade greeting cards.

Will Vallentine, a local honey producer, came and ran an informative session on his special Medical Honey, which is reputed to be the strongest in the world. Honey is well-known as a healing agent and Will’s honey has been scientifically tested and has very high anti-fungal,  antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. I am currently running an extended test to see if it can help ‘Knackered Old Senior’s Syndrome’.

Golfers and non-golfers played an entertaining seven-hole Ambrose competition, where it was clear that good scorers could beat good players any day of the week. That evening, we had a bingo session and I always thought this was a dead boring game – until I won some cash!

The hotly-contested Camp Oven Cook-Off produced a range of excellent, and some enthusiastic but less-than-excellent, entries. However, after the judging, the results were laid out for all to enjoy. A photographic competition was held and there were some excellent images among the 76 entries.

Friday, September 18 was the final full day of official events. Despite very heavy rain storms in the morning, many braved the weather to visit the popular Farmers’ Market near the showgrounds.

That evening saw the final dinner and presentation night. This was catered by the CWA as, by that stage, we were all ready for great food without the hassle of cooking it. It was an entertaining night with a Blues Brothers theme. Presentations were made, equipment generously donated by our sponsors was raffled, and this was followed by an auction stocked with prizes from sponsors and donations from Boggers.

Always a popular final event, this only starts after the wallets have been sufficiently ‘loosened-up’ with good wine. Run by the ‘Dodgy Auctioneer’ vice pesident Noel Flavell, the auction raised much laughter and plenty of funds. Each year, the committee makes donations to one or more deserving charities, and another successful Muster was complete.


Bushtracker muster


John Mack