What is it about Rockabilly festivals that draws the crowds? Is it the vibrant colours of the 50s and 60s and the sound of rock and roll music mixed with the rumble of old school V8 exhaust systems reverberating throughout the show? Is it the ability to take you back to a time of apparent innocence before you were born or, if you were lucky enough to experience this time, is it the memories this atmosphere unlocks from the nether regions of your mind and come flooding back to you? What ever it is, the rockabilly era is still alive and well, strongly supported by those who refuse to live by today’s social rules and choose to do it their way. These rebels of today’s current social standings have fashioned a community dedicated to the preservation of this past time in all its artistic glory.
To fittingly showcase such a festival, one has to find a suitable backdrop in order for it to take on a life of its own and only in the preservation of country towns can such a backdrop be sourced. Camperdown, found along the Princes highway in South West Victoria, two and half hours out of Melbourne settled amongst lush green plains and extinct volcanoes is such a place. Having managed to fend off the encroaching arm of modern architecture and maintain a perfect time capsule of a bygone era, it lends itself perfectly to this style of celebration. With its historic buildings, wide tree laden streets and clock tower as the centerpiece, Camperdown maintains that indispensable layback atmosphere required for a weekend of cultural festivity seeing the locals embrace travelers from all across the country as they descend on the quiet little town.
The festival runs over a full weekend allowing punters to wholly absorb the street atmosphere, with its wide array of automotive art on display, from old school constructed hot rods to classic custom led sleds covered in period style paint jobs and pin striping while being complimented by a cacophony of other modified vehicles in all styles and marques. Trade stands a plenty run the length of the wide grassy center island which separates the main road from the side road giving old and new rockers an opportunity to update the rides or wardrobes.
As darkness descends on the country town, it comes alive with the sounds of rock and roll thanks to an assortment of rockabilly style bands skillfully keeping the cultural theme alive and kicking. They come from all corners of the country with some bands and singers coming from as far as Sweden and Spain! With names like The String Busters and Danny & the Cosmic Tremors, the rock and rollers were guaranteed to be kicking their heels up until well after the midnight hour! The weekend finishes up Sunday arvo with the obligatory thank yous and trophy presentation seeing one lucky entry get the privilege of having his or her car grace the next official advertising displays for the following year’s party.
A big congratulations needs to go out to Arthur and his team who proficiently organize and execute this event every year seeing it go off without a hitch…well, none that we see anyway. So, if you’re up for a taste of the rock and roll past, feel like submerging yourself into the fifties atmosphere, then pack up the teardrop caravan, hitch it to the back of your classic ride and mosey on down to Camperdown next year for a rockin’ good time!
Keep on cruzin’