Engineering youth engagement

Nestled in the hills behind Margate in Tasmania’s south, two men are working to make a difference in young people’s lives. EVA CRIPPS tells us more.

​Every so often a community initiative comes along that has the perfect blend of uniqueness, passion and practicality. Antisocial Engineering is just that: specialists in motorcycle repairs and customisation, along with 'upcycling' junk into functional art, gadgets, knick-knacks, outdoor firepots, and more.


As the name suggests, it's a little wild, definitely original, and engineers a vast range of products for the lover of all things weird and wonderful. But that isn't all. It has a deeper and more important purpose. The brainchild of mechanic, former teacher and soldier Jim McCarthy, the venture began as a way to provide support and an alternative approach for young people who are at risk of becoming disaffected youth.


Joined by good friend Adrian Phillips, both men understand the pressures facing young people who don't quite fit in. Phillips, a highly skilled boat builder, and McCarthy both struggled with conventional schooling, yet excelled when given the opportunity to try something different.


Antisocial Engineering is designed to be that 'something different' to develop the confidence of a new generation of young people through constructive and meaningful projects.


Based just out of Margate, tucked away on the side of a hill and surrounded by rugged bush and pasture, the workshop is busy, messy, full of rusty frames, greasy, oil-stained crankcases and boxes of bolts, brackets and steel. Yet out of the cold, metal disorder rises life.


Wonderfully shiny and polished pipes lie nestled in cloth, tucked away out of sight while they wait for a motorcycle to call home. Intricate ornaments rise from the benchtop, glistening and glowing under the sparkling light from the aptly named 'Desklamp, umm, Octopus/Cthulu, Predator?' Fully fledged motorcycles grow from naked shells hoisted in the centre of the room.


It's evident from the time and care that both McCarthy and Phillips put into Antisocial Engineering that they are the real deal.


Covered in grease up to the elbows, McCarthy is warm yet gruff, with a genuine disposition that comes from a man with his fair share of life experience. Phillips commands attention with a toughness that is equally matched by infinite patience and generosity. The combined skills, talents and personalities of McCarthy and Phillips are perfectly matched to provide guidance, support and help to those wanting to tinker around in the workshop and make the most of what Antisocial Engineering has to offer.


And it has a lot to offer. The appeal crosses all boundaries. It is a welcoming place for young people to learn new skills for life, and a new craft, providing those who may not otherwise have the opportunity with a chance to get hands-on, dirty and fully involved in creating unique and interesting things.


It is a haven for those of all ages who are drawn to the raw beauty of the custom retro motorcycle. Passionate riders can rebuild their own machines, soaking in nostalgia and times gone by. New riders can fulfil their dreams of owning a bike, one they can be fully proud of as they have lovingly worked on it themselves. The collector, enthusiast and opportunist has a place to cart that old shed-find, covered in rust, barely recognisable as a motorcycle and restore it to its former glory with the help of McCarthy and Phillips.


And for those who have a fetish for the bold, the wild and the fancy, Antisocial Engineering has created a whole range of one-off must-haves, from Carbie Lights, Piston Desklamps, the strange yet mesmerising Octopus/Cthulu Lamp, Scorpion ornament and Spring Bee. Made to order and personalised, McCarthy and Phillips have limitless imagination for 'upcycle' projects.


Antisocial Engineering is also Tasmania's only mobile Motorcycle Inspection Station accredited to do Roadworthy Inspections.


For more information visit or find them on Facebook and Instagram.


This story first appeared in RACT Journeys magazine April/May 2017 issue. For more great stories visit