Rust in peace, a make-believe bomb.

A make-believe bomb.

Metal sculpture

Too much dieting?

Our recent road trip in central Australia included some weird, wonderful and unexpected treats. I’ve already introduced you to the mysterious Marree Man. Now it’s time for the brilliantly weird and creative Mutonia Sculpture Park.

Created by Robin Cooke, this artistic oasis is an amazing collection of industrial junk turned into clever sculptures. The largest and tallest is of a dog. Its body is a derelict water tank, while the head and tongue are an old Chrysler. I didn’t have enough time to walk up and get a close-up of the dog, but you get the idea. Cooke wanted to call it Dottie the Dingo, but the locals have tagged it the Big Dog.

The Big Dog in the Australia outback

The Big Dog, made of a water tank and an old Chrysler

Old planes on their tails

Two old planes and our van in the background

Before turning to art, Cooke spent 20 years as a mechanic in Victoria. In 1997, he downed those tools and came to the desert in remote South Australia to create his first sculpture. Apparently he returns every year to add another masterpiece. I’ve read that the original work was a bit of an anti-mine protest by indigenous landowners.

Musical sculpture

Musical sculpture

Giant wildflower sculpture

Giant wildflower sculpture

Time Tree sculpture

Time Tree sculpture

The park is located on the Oodnadatta Track. It’s near Alberrie Creek—population 2—and about a two-hour drive west of Marree. Once upon a time, the area was a railway siding for The Ghan, the famous train that does a 54-hour run between Adelaide and Darwin. About 40 years ago, the railway was moved west to avoid floodplains.

Here’s an entertaining five-minute video about the park and Cooke. It’s from a TV episode done by the ABC’s Stateline program in South Australia.

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