2 February 2024

Passion for utes revs young Rye Park woman up to drive her own show

| Sally Hopman
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Girl in front of ute

Kiara Gibbs shows off her prized ute, a 2002 VU Commodore. Kiara is organising the 2024 Rye Park Ute Show on 17 February. Photo: Supplied.

Most young people are pretty thrilled when their parents give them their first car. For Kiara Gibbs, of Rye Park, not so much. A Mirage hatchback just didn’t move her.

“I had always wanted a ute,” the now-19-year-old said. “So I ended up selling the Mirage, and Mum put a post up on Facebook seeing if anyone had a ute.”

They did, and the rest is motoring history.

Kiara and her boyfriend Nathan Crane are the brains behind the Rye Park Ute Show scheduled for next month in the tiny hamlet just outside Yass – population 230.

“I love my ute, so I thought it would be good to get other people like me together so we could meet up,” Kiara said.

“We organised our first one last year, and we had about 20 to 30 people turn up – and everyone reckoned they had the best time and wanted to do it again.”

Kiara, originally from Queanbeyan but who has lived at Rye Park for most of her life, got her first ute two years ago. “It was the best decision I ever made.” It’s a 2002 VU Commodore with a V6 engine, painted “glittery blue”.

“When I got it, the previous owner had blown the engine up so we had to get a new motor, gearbox, aerial, bullbar – and lots of stickers, and repainted her.”

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Kiara said she couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t love utes. Working on them, driving them, showing them off. One of her favourite pastimes is to work in the shed with her father, Alan.

“I’ve always been a bit different … I’ve always felt more at home in the shed. I learned a lot from my dad,” she said. “Whenever I get a chance, I work with him.

“I don’t know what it is but I just love utes. I love the feeling when you see a little kid look at it. I also love the way it feels when you drive them.”

Kiara said although her boyfriend didn’t have a ute, there was no rivalry.

“He’s got a VX Commodore sedan,” she said. “He wants a ute, though. I let him drive mine, but not all the time, only when he’s good,” she joked. “I’m a bit weird about who drives my ute.”

Kiara said she would love to see more young women drive utes.

“I guess it was a bit hard when I started out … it took me a long while to get going and to get the ute I really wanted, but it was worth the wait.”

The only downside to organising the February event, Kiara said, was that she couldn’t enter. But she has her engine revved for the next event on the ute show circuit: Blayney in March.

Row of utes lined up

Some of the stars of last year’s ute show at Rye Park. This year’s event is on 17 February. Photo: Supplied.

And of course, the big one – Deniliquin in September this year.

“I’ve never been,” she said, “but I’m going to go this year.”

The 2024 Rye Park Ute Show is on Saturday, 17 February, from 9 am until 5 pm at the Rye Park Recreation Ground, about a 90-minute drive from Canberra.

Categories for this year’s event include: Best Chick’s Ute, Best Holden, Best Feral Ute, Best 4×4, Most Stickers, Best Bloke’s Ute, Best Ford, Best Local, Cleanest 4×4 and Most Travelled. There will also be a prize for the Best Valentine’s Theme.

Food and refreshments will be available, along with market stalls and camping facilities.

More information is available on the Rye Park Ute Show’s Facebook page.

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