The Australian landscape is prime for road trips: straight highways cleave the horizon, pointing to its soaring sky and total freedom. Peppered along our major highways and dusty back roads are sleepy roadside motels. Photographer Kate Berry reveres these gaudy time capsules. Her OK Motels Instagram account began as a sparse photo essay, celebrating these relics of ’70s architecture and their kitsch interiors.
“I do tend to just get into my car and drive, without knowing where I’m going,” says Berry. “That’s how I found Charlton.”
The small town is located around three hours northwest of Melbourne, about halfway to Mildura.
“The first thing you see is the roadhouse, and then the Charlton Motel,” Berry says. The latter’s restaurant became an obsession for her, and in August she’ll host OK Motels there – an event celebrating music, nostalgia and the great Aussie road trip.
A $135 ticket gets you a classic motel meal, shuttle bus tickets and entry to a gig featuring Tropical Fuck Storm (the latest venture from Gareth Liddiard of the Drones), Blake Scott, Cable Ties, Affordable Repayments, DJ Hot Wheels and, according to Berry, a “shitload of mirrorballs”.
“For dinner, we’re doing a classic bain-marie meal,” Berry says. “We wanted a nod to the old school, but … it still needed to be delicious.” The pans will be piled with roast pork and scalloped potatoes, veggie lasagne, curly pasta and fish curry. A ’70s-style midnight snack station will provide the nostalgia too, with garlic bread, Ritz biscuits and cabanossi. Thunder Road Brewing will be pouring the beers, and Melbourne Moonshine is taking care of cocktails.
Rooms at the motel are booked out, but there are camping options available along the nearby Avoca River. Hire a 4-person luxury tent from $230, or take the no-frills, BYO tent option for $10.
Before heading home on Sunday, guests will be able to grab breakfast in town courtesy of a few local shops and the Charlton Football Club.
“It means that they can make a bit of cash, and be part of the event as well,” Berry says. “It’s a lot nicer and a bit more fun than just mobbing into their town, putting on a gig and then pissing off again.”
OK Motels is at the Charlton Motel on Saturday 25 August and Sunday 26 August. Tickets and more information available here. You can also help build the Charlton Road Trip 2018 Spotify playlist, for the most collaborative road trip soundtrack of all time.