As someone who usually has to travel hundreds of miles to go to a truck show, it’s quite a unique experience watching the lead-up to Wrong Turn Cruise, an annual minitruck and custom car show that my friends and I host in our hometown of Rockhampton, Queensland. We see all kinds of last-minute build photos scrolling across the social media feeds with the #wrongturnprep hashtag (which is still quite humbling to see). We get picture messages of late-night progress waking us up in the wee hours of the morning – but with every notification comes a little jolt of adrenaline and joy as these people are building creations to bring to “our party.” In the final weeks before the show, activity reaches fever-pitch in sheds and garages all up and down the east coast of Australia. Crazy ideas come to fruition, while others are scrapped in favor of “just getting it to the show” in one piece.
Photos: Glen Wright | Words: Archie Gee & WTC Crew
In the last week before show day, a strange calm descends as people pack up tools and begin their trek from both near and far. For many, the open road brings its own emotional roller-coaster. Pictures and stories abound of mechanical mishaps and encounters with highway patrol officers. Some end well, while others don’t. Photos of trucks laid out in front of familiar landmarks to the north and south start to trickle in as the Wrong Turn catchment begins to fill. An ever-increasing stretch of the eastern seaboard that covers over 1,600 miles from Cairns to Sydney provides the lifeblood of the show. Wrong Turn 2015 kicked off with the usual Friday night shenanigans as old friends rolled in and aired out with the best intentions of having a low key evening before show day. Trucks, tents and laughter filled the back blocks of the caravan park that’s provided a base camp for the punters over most of the show’s history. They put us up the back now, away from the retirees and camper vans that inhabit the rest of the park.
The next morning everyone’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for show day (well, almost everyone). A long line of vehicles snakes its way a short drive east from Rockhampton to the small seaside town of Emu Park. The show itself becomes better with each passing year. While it’s still smaller compared to some of the shows down south and tiny by American standards, the quality of vehicles in attendance keeps going up with each passing year. With our draconian transport regulations, seeing an air-bagged or heavily customized vehicle in this country is a pretty rare and special thing. To see a host of such unique machinery laid out among the Bunya Pines of Emu Park is incredibly rewarding, not just for us as organizers or the owners themselves, but also for the hundreds of members of the public who stroll through, pointing and snapping pictures with excited kids in tow.
It’s not just about the trucks though. Many of the people who attend year after year have become like family to us and each other, and show day is sort of like a family reunion. With all the usual trappings of a truck show; the bag toss, tug-o-war, and plenty of shady tables to chill out and catch up, it’s about spending quality time with the people we only get to see a few times a year. In the late afternoon everyone packs up and heads back to Rockhampton to scrub up and maybe have a power-nap before the presentation dinner. The vibe on the night is electric. People start filing into the venue and everyone circulates from table to table chatting it up. There’s no room for shyness or elitism at Wrong Turn, we’re all here for the same thing, and the down to earth feel of the weekend is what people keep coming back for.
The trophies and are presented over good food and drink to sweet tunes being spun by our resident DJ, who flies all the way from Melbourne each year for the show. This year we held a charity art auction, which was an absolute hit. The punters dug deep for sick kids and picked up some amazing limited edition pieces of custom car art, generously donated by household names such as Max Grundy and Pinstripe Chris, as well as some talented local artisans.
As the night progresses, the music gets louder and the party turns up. The Wrong Turn Dance-off finishes off the official part of the night and the die-hard party people hit the town. WTC has a unique and intangible magic that no one can quite put into words, but everyone who attends can surely feel. The younger set, many of whom have never been to another truck show, declare it to be the best weekend of the year. The O.G. guys look wistfully into the middle-distance and say it reminds them of how minitruckin used to be. It’s grown beyond our wildest dreams, yet it faithfully retains that down to earth vibe of its humble grass-roots beginnings. Wrong Turn Cruise is the only dedicated minitruck and customs show in Queensland, but I’d hazard a guess that there’s nothing else quite like it anywhere in the world, although we love to visit some of the “old school” shows in the states for inspiration. Thank you to everyone who supports this show and others like it, and to everyone who does their part to keep the scene alive and kicking – until next time!