Camperdown festival rocks

Sophie Nicol, of Warrnambool, is now dressing rockabilly style.
Sophie Nicol, of Warrnambool, is now dressing rockabilly style.

AN estimated 10,000 people cruised into Camperdown for a weekend feast of music, dancing and custom cars.

Fans came from as far as the UK and New Zealand for what has become one of Australia’s biggest annual rockabilly festivals.

Five years ago the Camperdown Cruise started with 15 cars and enthusiasts gathered around a sausage sizzle ­— on the weekend there were about 700 show cars, 1800 dancers, 16 bands and artists drawing fans and onlookers from across the nation.

“It’s officially an international event now,” said organiser Arthur Bruce, of Camperdown, as he reflected on the success of his bold vision.

“We’re already planning next year’s event which will feature a full-on burlesque production show in the theatre.

“Rumours have been circulating the Cruise will go elsewhere, but I can assure you it’s staying in Camperdown.

“It’s such a great setting, so why change.

“I’m so grateful for the assistance of the committee and shire.”

A few locals complained about having to pay $5 to enter the display and concert area, but district volunteer groups will benefit from proceeds.

The festival finished on a high note last night with a best-of-the-bands concert at the Commercial Hotel.

Rockabilly is becoming a mainstream music and fashion genre judging by the number of teens and young adults with slick-back hair and rockers outfits.

Warrnambool apprentice chef Sophie Nicol, 18, was a punk music fan with mohawk hairstyle three years ago.

Now she has a red rinse through her long locks and patterned skirts.

“It’s good fun. The events are great and you don’t get the fights that happen with other festivals,” she said.

“There aren’t many young fans in the Warrnambool district, but there’s lots in Melbourne. It’s huge in Brisbane.”

Although unable to afford a gleaming American custom car she hopes to spruce up her dad’s 1971 Volkswagen Beetle to fit the image.

Sydney fans Liz Saunders and Glen (Hairy) Boy have been following the festival scene around Australia and overseas for more than a decade.

“It’s gone from nostalgia to a vibrant scene in Australia,” they said.

Corangamite Shire councillor Steve Cumming who drove his 1959 Customline said the town offered a unique heritage setting for the festival.

He awarded the mayor’s choice prize to a 1956 Buick coupe owned by Ray Pearman of Healesville.