Spring, at last, the start of the Vintage and Rockabilly season in Victoria. One of the only overnight evens for me this season, the 3 hours drive through the Western Plains of Victoria is one my favourites. Leaving Bacchus Marsh and through Ballarat, it is like driving back through time and history. The saddest part is the drive to transform the natural bush and grasslands into capitalist ventures of broad-acre farming and grazing. But the best part is the little downs along the way which are snapshots of the early era of motoring. As you head out of Warrnambool, you can see the tall rows of Norfolk Island Pines on the horizon. Port Fairy has had bursts of growth over its history. The central part of the township is home to 150-year-old buildings and ties to its establishment. The surrounding area is filled with 1950 mid-century beach homes, and 1970 architecture files the spit between the river and the sea. So what a perfect place for a Vintage Weekend. The town is famous for its Folk Festival, so I was expecting a lot. A friend was in charge of organising the pin-up competition, so I was there to support her as well.
First thing Sunday, I checked out of the hotel early and packed the car. I drove the car a short distance to the other side of the township. As I was walking through the main street, it was evident that the town is set up for booming Summer trade. There were parking signs with time restrictions but only between December and April. I passed a few real estate agents with windows filled with holiday and rural properties on display. A man with his daughter, who was pulling at his hand to keep walking, browsed through the properties. Maybe he was dreaming of escaping the city and making a move for a well-earnt seachange; I know I was.
I rounded the corner at the end of the main street on a desperate hunt for coffee. Tables were huddled under the verandah on the street, red napkins moving in the gentle breeze — the smell of the sea mixing with fresh coffee, bacon and eggs. I went inside and order and retreated to an outside table. Passing by the crowds started to build. Herds of middle age men, bodies squeezed in bike shorts dismounted their bikes. Young couples looking fresh and energetic sat in the sun sipping their coffees nearby. Over the road was the village green where the rockabilly band was setting up and a group of men frantically installing a dance floor. As I sat and watched the people there for the Vintage weekend started to arrive. How I could I tell?
First was the rumble of the Chevvy Bel-Air V8 coming into two. It’s bright white, blue and chrome rumbled. Soon after a stream of cars from the 1950s and 60s started to arrive. Couples began to walk past dressed in amazing 1950 original and reproduction clothing. Hair and make-up were also done to match the era. The squawking of the saxophone across the street as the band started their sound checks marked the arrival of the rock-n-roll dancers: an interesting species and worth a storey of their own.