Restoration Hopes for 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' Bus

Help Save the Queen! History Trust SA has kickstarted an ambitious campaign to fund the meticulous restoration of the legendary bus immortalised in the 1994 Australian cinematic gem, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."
FUSE  |  Australian News

Help Save the Queen! After vanishing from sight for nearly a quarter-century, the 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' bus resurfaced, nestled in a paddock on a property in Ewingar, New South Wales.

Fueled by nostalgia and a shared reverence for cultural heritage, efforts are now underway to restore the bus to its former glory and secure its place in Australian cinema history.

The History Trust of South Australia, under the stewardship of CEO Greg Mackie, has embarked on this monumental task, recognising the bus not just as a relic of South Australian heritage but as a symbol of Australia's vibrant film culture.

Mackie has told media outlets that restoration work has already commenced on the 1976 Japanese model Hino Freighter. 

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert bus was discovered in a paddock on a property in New South Wales in 2019.

The South Australian government has backed the campaign, allocating a generous $100,000 to the cause. Education Minister Blair Boyer hailed the bus as an integral part of Australian cinematic history, affirming its rightful place in a museum setting. Plans are afoot to house the fully restored bus at the National Motor Museum in Birdwood in the Adelaide Hills, where it will serve as a poignant reminder of a bygone era of Australian queer filmmaking.

Property owner Michael Mahon emerged as an unexpected custodian of this cultural artifact, stumbling upon the bus to his property. Mahon's serendipitous discovery came with a twist of fate, as the bus narrowly escaped destruction during a bushfire that ravaged the property. Mahon said he was determination to preserve this piece of history, viewing it as a testament to Australia's rich cultural tapestry.

The restoration effort will come at a hefty price. The South Australian State Government have pledged $100,000 to the project, with the remainder to be raised via support of corporate sponsors, partners and public donations to reach the target of $2.2 million.


While the restoration process is expected to span 18 months, with completion slated for 2026, hopes abound that the bus may possible return to the open road, serving as a mobile ambassador for Australian cinema.

The journey to reclaim the "Priscilla" bus reads like a chapter from a Hollywood script, replete with twists and turns worthy of the silver screen.

For years, the History Trust of South Australia scoured the country in search of the elusive bus; its whereabouts have been shrouded in mystery since its role in the film's production concluded in 1993. The revelation in 2019, courtesy of Mahon's timely intervention, brought closure to a decades-long saga, reaffirming the bus's status as a cultural icon.

As the restoration project gains momentum, anticipation builds for unveiling the fully restored "Priscilla" bus at the National Motor Museum. For Mackie and his team at the History Trust, this undertaking represents not just a labour of love but a testament to the enduring power of storytelling.

As they embark on this odyssey to breathe new life into a cherished relic of Australian cinema, they do so with a shared conviction that the spirit of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" will continue to captivate hearts and minds for generations to come.


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